More than 620 million people (over 44% of the population) practice open defecation in India, causing close to 65,000 tons of excrement to freely enter the environment daily. This subsequently leads to water contamination and diarrheal diseases which is number one cause of death in children under five globally. Child survivors are vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, infections, and experience a limited learning capacity. Furthermore, as women’s dignity is at risk during open defecation, many wait until the cover of night to relieve themselves for privacy; however, they face a greater risk of snake bites and physical attacks. Toilet building is the key solution for sanitation management. In Gujarat, researchers designed methods for toilet building, installation, and maintenance directly involving village women and providing them with the necessary skills. They were trained in basic numeracy and construction using Legos. Village women enthusiastically learned to build toilets for their families and communities.
Scale-Up: Toilet Building
Sanitation awareness programs accompany the toilet building project as it expands to more villages, drawing connections between open defecation and health related illnesses. The project expands with a comprehensive approach to eliminating open defecation.
Amrita Department: AMMACHI Labs
Foreign Partner: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland