Features Monday, June 02, 2014 - 05:30
Rebecca Megson| The News Minute| May 29, 2014| 10.02 am IST It’s hard to believe that one billion people doing anything could be kept a secret. Or, that there are any subjects left that are considered too embarrassing to talk about. But public defecation – or pooing in the open – is one such topic. 1.2 billion people openly defecate worldwide. Of which 600 million Indians poo outside, making India the country with the highest number of people practising open defecation in the world. Not necessarily a statistic you’d want to shout about all that much perhaps. Yet our silence on the matter is deadly. According to UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, a child dies every 2 and a half minutes from diseases linked to open defecation. Which is why Eliasson has launched ‘Open defecation’ a global campaign to break the silence and get people talking about public defecation. UN Water Supply and Sanitation Programme Manager, Amanda Marlin, said: “There are so many groups and agencies involved in water and sanitation – UN, non-UN, state, federal and local governments, civil societies and the private sector. In some senses it could feel fragmented but the enormity of the issue means we need everybody involved.” “Today’s campaign is about rallying everyone together under one banner and getting people talking.” Raising awareness is one thing, raising funds is another. World Health Organisation Chief scientist, Dr Roberto Bertollini, said: “The challenge is that the donors don’t find it exciting to build toilets, it’s much harder to get sanitation funding. Country’s have to lead their own initiatives.” Marlin said: “Whilst there is still much more to be done, countries like India have had some great successes with community led projects. More needs to be known about these projects to ensure that pressure is kept up.” A WHO- UNICEF report titled ‘Progress on Drinking Water and sanitation 2014 update’ says a total of 597 million Indians defecate in the open when they have to go. The report which looked at developing regions and least developing regions says that India continues to be the country with the highest number of people (597 million) practising open defecation. Indonesia comes second to India with 54 million practising open defecation, closely followed by Pakistan at 41 million. In fact, 82% of the one billion people practising open defecation in the world live in just 10 countries. By 2025, the practice of open defecation must be totally eliminated, the United Nations has vowed.

Topic tags,

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.