Eliminate Open Defecation


Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate.
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.

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.


Big Picture

Did you know?
One GRAM of faeces contains:
     • 10,000,000 viruses
     • 1,000,000 bacteria
     • 1,000 parasite cysts
Child faeces contain more germs than adults’.

Women and girls face shame and a loss of personal dignity and risk their safety if there is no toilet at home. They have to wait for nightfall to relieve themselves in privacy.

UNICEF In Action

The Government of India with help of partners like UNICEF is looking at the challenge of Open Defecation very seriously. The government has a target to make India “Open Defecation Free” by 2019 and UNICEF India is a key partner in its flagship programme to achieve this target through the Swatchh Bharat Mission (SBM). 
SBM emphasizes generating awareness, sharing information and creating behaviour change to bridge the gap between building toilets and their proper use.
UNICEF developed the national sanitation and hygiene, advocacy and communication strategy for the Government of India and is working with state governments to develop and implement state sanitation and hygiene, advocacy and communication strategies.

UNICEF is also working with governments to establish state open defecation elimination plans which aim to create an enabling environment that will support and improve the efficiency of the roll-out of the government’s sanitation programme SBM.
UNICEF is also working with other departments of the government of India such as the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to improve the situation of WASH in schools and in health centres. UNICEF works through UNICEF’s network of field offices in India to provide technical support to state governments.
CATS Pilots: UNICEF in India has introduced pilots of Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) in six states, to demonstrate how grassroots methods can be harnessed to deliver open defecation free (ODF) communities quickly and with quality. UNICEF is also working on building local capacity to implement quality CATS programmes and training master trainers to widen the pool of trained workers to perform CATS triggering.
WASH in Health Centres

UNICEF in India is working in collaboration with the Health ministry to map WASH compliance in health facilities in the most deprived districts and is making recommendations to address non-compliance.
Institution Strengthening

The WASH section works with state governments to identify where institutions need capacity-building. For example, it is helping reform State Water and Sanitation Missions to become responsive when they are in mission mode.

Efforts are also underway to address mechanisms to ensure that supply chains can be activated as demand for toilets within communities increases. It also works to identify toilet technologies suited to different climatic and geographic zones and is supporting efforts to improve the skills of masons to build better quality toilets. In West Bengal, there is a pilot under way to create a model institutional and delivery structure to make districts open defecation free.
Communication support
In terms of communication campaigns, the WASH section provided technical support to the Government of India to develop the national Sanitation and Hygiene, Advocacy and Communication Strategy (SHACS).

This strategy has been contextualised by all states that have a UNICEF presence and district implementation plans have been developed in all states ready for rollout. UNICEF is also providing technical inputs to the India chapter of the Global Inter-faith WASH Alliance (GIWA), to plan its programme of strategies including outreach to create demand for toilets.  
Advocacy support
Jointly, UNICEF’s WASH, and Advocacy and Communication sections developed the Poo2Loo campaign. This unique campaign deliberately chooses to address the population of young Indians who have a toilet at home, in order to sensitize them to the plight of those who do not have toilets, and create a youth social movement to stand up and advocate for the need for everyone to have a toilet. The campaign launched in the largest cities of India and in its second phase, is being spread to state capitals and smaller cities.