Eliminating Open Defecation in India

The Government of India with the assistance of international partners like UNICEF is looking forward to mitigating the issue of Open Defecation with all urgency.

What is Open Defecation?

Open defecation refers to the age-old practice in which people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces to defecate.

Why is it dangerous?

  • Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children in India.
  • Open defecation exposes women to the danger of physical attacks and encounters such as snake bites. Poor sanitation also cripples national development: workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less, and are less able to send their children to school.

What needs to done?

Awareness campaigns, media exposure, and pressure from school-age children, are some of the drivers of increased awareness towards behaviour change. Further, with a growing population and increasing agricultural cultivation and urbanization, the number of spaces available for open defecation continues to reduce.

The Indian government has a target to make India Open Defecation Free by 2019. UNICEF India is a key partner in the flagship program to achieve this target through the Swatchh Bharat Mission (SBM).

The SBM aims to emphasize generating awareness, sharing information and creating behavior change to bridge the gap between building toilets and their proper use.


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