Tag Archives: open defecation

What numbers tell us about Open Defecation in India

What numbers tell us about Open Defecation in India | Source: The Hindu, Oct 2 2016 |

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open. 


Behaviour change is a key priority of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as sanitation is a behavioural issue. Photo: Special Arrangement

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open.

Eliminating Open Defecation in India by 2nd October 2019 – the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – is one of the key aims of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago on Gandhi Jayanti.

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open —a major public health and sanitation problem.

How does India compare with other countries?

India fares poorly. According to data compiled by r.i.c.e, Sub-Saharan Africa, which had 65 per cent of the GDP per capita of India, had only about half of the rural open defecation compared to India.

In Bangladesh, only 5 per cent of rural people defecate in the open, significantly lower than that in India.

Read the complete article.

Penn project aims to stop open defecation by changing social norms

Penn project aims to stop open defecation by changing social norms | Source: Penn Current, July 21 2016 |

Cristina Bicchieri’s work is not for the faint of heart.

The Penn professor of philosophy, legal studies, and psychology looks at how social norms affect community behaviors. Recently, she has been studying open defecation and trying to shift what is acceptable in developing countries.


Cristina Bicchieri, the S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics in the School of Arts & Sciences.

This fall, through a new three-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, her work will take her to India, a country where 48 percent of the population engages in this practice, according to UNICEF.

Open defecation is a well-established traditional practice in India, deeply ingrained from early childhood, UNICEF reports. This is partly because it is socially taboo to discuss sanitation, so few people do, and also because poverty means other life necessities get prioritized over toilets.

“It’s very unsanitary; it spreads diseases,” says Bicchieri, the S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics in the School of Arts & Sciences.

Despite attempts by the Indian government to curb the problem with incentives to build latrines, the practice continues, polluting water and food. To better understand why, Bicchieri will conduct research in villages and cities in the states of Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

Continue reading

Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science

Nudging and Habit Change for Open Defecation: New Tactics from Behavioral Science, March 2016. 

Authors: David Neal, Ph.D. (Catalyst), Jelena Vujcic, M.P.H. (Catalyst), Rachel Burns Ph.D. (Catalyst), Wendy Wood, Ph.D. (University of Southern California) and Jacqueline Devine, MBA (World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program)

In this working paper, we draw on basic scientifc fndings from psychology, cognitive science, and behavioral economics to propose a framework of 8 System 1 Principles to support the initiation and maintenance of OD behavior change.

In doing so, we build from the general framework advanced in the World Bank Group’s (2015) World Development Report: Mind, Society, and Behavior, which emphasized three core insights from behavioral science, namely that people think (a) automatically, (b) socially and (c) using mental models that channel their decision-making.


Sanitation in Bangladesh: Revolution, Evolution, and New Challenges

Sanitation in Bangladesh: Revolution, Evolution, and New Challenges, 2016. CLTS Knowledge Hub Learning Paper.

Author: Dr Suzanne Hanchett.

Our 2015 discussions with people at all levels of Bangladesh society reveal both pride in sanitation achievements and concern about meeting future challenges. A combination of approaches – subsidies, non-subsidies, micro-credit, sanitation market improvements, programming at various scales, motivating of individuals and groups – has resulted in a majority of households’ using latrines rather than defecating openly.

Policy documents have created frameworks to guide activities in diverse areas. Issues such as quality, faecal sludge removal, and appropriate subsidies for very poor households remain, however. Hard-to-reach geographical areas lag behind the rest of the country. As Professor Mujibur Rahman’s 2009 overview pointed out, failing to address these challenges will threaten the sustainability of achievements.

Unique characteristics of the Bangladesh sanitation situation include the focus on its local government institution (the union), its long history of NGO-sponsored community mobilisation, and its high population density. Donor involvement has been a regular feature of the sanitation scene for more than three decades. It is a relatively small country, the size of only one of India’s states. All of these special conditions and characteristics have supported its achievements to date.

Continue reading

A Community Approach to Better Public Health in Rural Liberia

A Community Approach to Better Public Health in Rural Liberia. Global Waters, June 2016

Liberia is no stranger to difficult times, having weathered a devastating Ebola outbreak and now struggling through a slow economic recovery. Lost amid the headlines from these events is the story of Liberia’s quiet public health victories.


Residents of Lofa County’s Vahun district in Liberia gather to discuss strategy for sustaining recent local sanitation improvements. Photo Credit: Global Communities

Half of Liberia’s 4.5 million people live in the countryside and roughly the same amount practice open defecation.

This practice has jeopardized public health by facilitating the spread of diseases that cause diarrhea, Liberia’s sixth leading cause of death and the primary cause of childhood morbidity and mortality.

However, thanks to two programs that championed community-led sanitation improvements, USAID has now helped 1,500 Liberian communities achieve open defecation-free (ODF) status — fueling optimism about continued public health improvements in the near term

Read the complete article.

Can collective action strategies motivate behavior change to reduce open defecation in rural India?

Can collective action strategies motivate behavior change to reduce open defecation in rural India? Waterlines, April 2016.

Authors: Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, Diane Coffey. RICE Institute.

The world’s remaining open defecation is increasingly concentrated in rural India. The Indian government’s efforts to reduce open defecation by providing subsidies for latrine construction have been largely unsuccessful in addressing the problem. It is now clear that behavior change must be the priority if progress on ending open defecation is to be made.

While community-led strategies have proven effective in various developing country contexts, there are serious reasons to question whether similar methods can work in rural India.  Through both quantitative and qualitative analyses, we find that strict social hierarchies that continue to govern daily interactions in rural life today obstruct the spirit of cooperation upon which such methods rely.

Additionally, caste-based notions of purity and pollution make the simple latrines used all over the developing world unattractive to rural Indians.  In a context where people identify most closely with their caste and religious groups rather than their geographical villages, our findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of the idea of “community” is required.  More experimentation, both with community-led and other strategies, is needed in order to effectively move from open defecation to latrine use in rural India.

If These Kids From MP Find Someone Defecating In Open, There’s A Funny Way They Tackle It – WaterAid India

Published on Apr 5, 2016

An inspiring story of a group of children from Sehore in Madhya Pradesh who set off at the crack of dawn to prevent people from defecating in the open using a unique method. See how these young crusaders in the fight against open defecation are inspiring their communities to stop open defecation.