Open Defecation in India
Nearly 600 million Indians defecate outside every day, straining the health, economy, and society of India. The practice of open defecation is linked to illness, sexual violence against girls and women, spread of parasitic infections, and stunting the growth of children. Yet the problem is little understood by the global public. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019 with his “My Clean India” campaign, but evidence shows that the problem is more complex than simple access to toilets, and it remains to be seen what will be done with the political will.
My goal is to explore attitudes toward defecating outside, barriers to using toilets where they are available, and the relationship between government and individual opinions of ending open defecation. In doing so, I hope to increase awareness and understanding of the important problem of open defecation and thereby impact the health and well-being of millions of people.