Tag Archives: open defecation

Discovering sanitation realities through rural immersions

Discovering sanitation realities through rural immersions. by Jamie Myers, CLTS, March 2017.

At the end of last year the CLTS Knowledge Hub heard that the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Government of Madhya Pradesh, were sending 630 of their first year management students to spend a week living in 157 open defecation free (ODF) villages. clts

The villages cut across 13 districts in the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Students were asked to verify ODF status of villages through a household survey and early morning and evening inspections of open defecation sites. They were also tasked with collecting data on school and Anganwadi (child and mother care) centres sanitation and handwashing facilities.

The sheer number of people involved was impressive in itself as was the level of detail that could be collected in the length of time they were able to spend there. Furthermore, the fact that they would be staying overnight meant that they would be in the villages at the times when open defecation was most common, early in the morning and later in the evening. Needless to say we were excited to hear not only about their findings but also the process and methodology.

Read the complete article.

Duncan Mara – The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionals

The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionalsJournal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, February 2017. 1.cover-source

In 2015 there were 965 million people in the world forced to practise open defecation (OD). The adverse health effects of OD are many: acute effects include infectious intestinal diseases, including diarrheal diseases which are exacerbated by poor water supplies, sanitation and hygiene; adverse pregnancy outcomes; and life-threatening violence against women and girls.

Chronic effects include soil-transmitted helminthiases, increased anaemia, giardiasis, environmental enteropathy and small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and stunting and long-term impaired cognition. If OD elimination by 2030 is to be accelerated, then a clear understanding is needed of what prevents and what drives the transition from OD to using a latrine.

Sanitation marketing, behaviour change communication, and ‘enhanced’ community-led total sanitation (‘CLTSþ ’), supplemented by ‘nudging’, are the three most likely joint strategies to enable communities, both rural and periurban, to become completely OD-free and remain so.

It will be a major Sanitation Challenge to achieve the elimination of OD by 2030, but helping the poorest currently plagued by OD and its serious adverse health effects should be our principal task as we seek to achieve the sanitation target of the Sustainable Development Goals – indeed it is a moral imperative for all governments and development professionals.

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits. Economic & Political Weekly, January 7, 2017.

Authors: Diane Coffey, Aashish Gupta, Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, Nikhil Srivastav, Sangita Vyas

India has far higher open defecation rates than other developing regions where people are poorer, literacy rates are lower, and water is relatively more scarce. In practice, government programmes in rural India have paid little attention in understanding why so many rural Indians defecate in the open rather than use affordable pit latrines.

Drawing on new data, a study points out that widespread open defecation in rural India is on account of beliefs, values, and norms about purity, pollution, caste, and untouchability that cause people to reject affordable latrines.

Future rural sanitation programmes must address villagers’ ideas about pollution, pit-emptying, and untouchability, and should do so in ways that accelerate progress towards social equality for Dalits rather than delay it.

Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India

Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India. World Development, January 2017. Authors: Kathleen O’Reilly, Richa Dhanju, Abhineety Goel.


  • Remote places are different than rural places due to physical and social distance.
  • Remoteness significantly contributes to practices of open defecation.
  • Structural inequalities produce conditions that impede sanitation uptake.
  • Addressing infrastructural causes of remoteness is key to reducing open defecation.
  • Reducing multi-scalar, socio-spatial inequalities can lead to latrine adoption.

Open defecation is a major global health problem. The number of open defecators in India dwarfs that of other states, and most live in rural places. Open defecation is often approached as a problem scaled at the site of the individual, who makes a choice not to build and/or use a toilet.

Attempts to end rural open defecation by targeting individuals, like social marketing or behavior change approaches, often ignore the structural inequalities that shape rural residents’ everyday lives. Our study explores the question, “What is the role of remoteness in sustaining open defecation in rural India?” We deploy the concept of remoteness as an analytical tool that can capture everyday practices of open defecation as a function of physical and social distance.

Using ethnographic methods, we interviewed and observed 70 participants in four villages in Uttarakhand, India over a three-month period in 2013. We find that remoteness in general, and its lived nuances, form a context for prevalent open defecation. Structural inequalities across space will need to be addressed to make latrine building and usage viable in remote places.


Progress on CLTSH – Findings from a national review of rural sanitation in Ethiopia – UNICEF

Progress on CLTSH – Findings from a national review of rural sanitation in Ethiopia: WASH Learning Note. December 2016.


  • Rural sanitation coverage in Ethiopia continues to improve. The survey found on average 68% latrine usage, similar to the 2015 JMP estimate
  • The majority (89%) of household toilets are unimproved
  • There are strong regional disparities in coverage. 5 regions have over 50%, whilst in 3 regions open defecation is still dominant
  • CLTSH is not always implemented as intended. There are regional variations and some aspects of the triggering and follow-up are omitted
  • The Post-ODF follow-up of the CLTSH approach is limited. Very few communites are recorded as having reached ’level 2’ of ODF
  • Handwashing Rates are low. Only 19% of respondents were found to wash hands at all critical times, and only 45% after using the toilet


Ending open defecation: The drive must go beyond mascots, jingles – even toilets

Ending open defecation: The drive must go beyond mascots, jingles – even toilets. Scroll.In, January 3, 2017.


Image credit: NDMC handout

Even as Mumbai enlists the star power of Salman Khan to end open defecation and Delhi has its turbaned Swachh Sewak mascots patrolling the streets, whistling at and fining the guilty, the underlying lacunae that make people defecate in the open see little discussion and go almost completely unaddressed. A problem that should not take more than a year to be solved nationally, if addressed in mission mode, drags on through one scheme after the other.

The populist efforts are driven more by the aim of safeguarding the sensibilities of the privileged than out of a feeling of empathy for those who must go through the indignity of open defecation. A sincere desire to solve the problem is wanting. The Swachh Bharat Mission makes the right noises but lacks in empowering municipal officials adequately. Nice videos and musical jingles can only take you so far. The real difference comes from silent work carried out by a taskforce staffed with deeply committed and talented people.

In the urban context, especially, the issue becomes more complex. Land is scarce and has higher economic value, and urban planning and equitable housing policies have been neglected for a very long time. Open defecation arises from a neglect of these fundamental issues rather than just from the absence of adequate toilets. While we decide what we want to do with planning and governing our cities better, in the interim, it should not be difficult to construct a high number of high quality toilets, which become a natural attraction for those defecating in the open.

Read the complete article.

Higher incidents of rape in India linked to open defecation

Higher incidents of rape in India linked to open defecation: Study. Indian Express, December 15, 2016.

According to the study, women who use open defecation sites are twice as likely to get raped compared to women using a home toilet. 


The researchers looked at the latest Indian National Family Health Survey data and analysed a nationally representative sample of 75,000 women to answer questions about access to a home toilet and their exposure to different types of violence.

Women in India who use open defecation are prone to sexual violence and infrastructure improvements can provide them with some level of protection, a US university researcher has said. “Open defecation places women at uniquely higher risk of one type of sexual violence: non-partner,” says Approva Jadhav from the University of Michigan in a research paper published in the latest issue of Bio-Med Central Journal.

“Women who use open defecation sites like open fields or the side of a railway track are twice as likely to get raped when compared with women using a home toilet,” the study says. The research results, which suggest that women who use open defecation have twice the odds of non-partner sexual violence (NPSV) than women who use household toilets, indicate that infrastructure improvements can provide women with some level of protection against NPSV, it says.

“Our findings provide further rationale for NGOs and the Indian government to expand sanitation programmes, and raise new questions about the potentially protective role of sanitation facilities in other contexts beyond India,” the paper says.

Read the complete article.