Open defecation: A poopy problem!

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There’s a new Hindi movie out that is called Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. This movie is trying to educate people about a big problem in India – a lack of toilets.

More than half of India’s population – that means around 600 million people – go outside to relieve themselves. They defecate in fields, on pavements, on train tracks, river banks, beaches, in any open space they can find. This is called open defecation and it is a big problem for India.

So, why do people do this? First of all, because India simply does not have enough toilets. Secondly, sometimes, people prefer to go in the fields because they have been used to doing that for many years. It’s an old habit that they find hard to break.

However, there are many problems associated with open defecation. It is extremely unhygienic. It contaminates water and leads to the spread of deadly diseases. It is also dangerous for women and girls. When they go outside their homes to do their business, they become easy targets for people who may want to attack them.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well aware of this challenge and he has made sanitation a priority. In 2014, he launched the Swach Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission. It’s goal is to clean up India and stop open defecation within 5 years, by 2019. That year will mark 150 years of Gandhiji’s birth. Modi wants every school and every home to have a toilet by then.

People may build more toilets by then. What really needs to change though is people’s attitudes. Unless they realize how bad it is for the environment and for their health to defecate outside, unless they start using toilets, India is unlikely to become cleaner.

 

This article was written by Mallika Kapur, a journalist and a mom!

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