Poo2Loo is a new campaign from UNICEF aimed at increasing awareness in India about proper sanitation. According to the organization, more people in India defecate in the open than anywhere else in the world — about 620 million people who either don't have access to toilets or don't use them. This can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as malnutrition, especially amongst children. And it's a particular problem for women and girls, who often have to wait until it's dark to relieve themselves and who miss school due to lack of sanitation facilities.
Almost 70 per cent of people in rural India don't have access to a toilet. Even for those who do have access, using them isn't universal — there's a lack of education that prevents people from doing so.
The Poo2Loo campaign is an attempt to increase proper sanitation in India, by making people aware of the necessity for proper toilets and, ultimately, to lobby the Indian government to make sanitation a priority. You can watch their surprisingly entertaining animated PSA video above.
Of course, India isn't the only country with a poor sanitation record, and UNICEF isn't the only organization working toward better sanitation practices worldwide. Here are a few other good (toilet) news stories you should know about:
While many parts of Africa lack access to clean toilets, rural Kenya isn't one of them. According to Forbes, that's partly because of David Kuria, the person behind the company Ecotact and its popular Ikotoilet. The toilets can be found across the country, housed in buildings that are beautifully designed (Kuria is an architect by training) and painted fun colours. They cost five schillings (less than one Canadian cent) to use. And they're surrounded by other businesses that rent space from Ecotact, like barber shops, shoe shiners and people selling cold drinks. It's all part of a pretty smart business model created by Kuria, which uses the rent money, admission fees and advertising to keep the toilets clean and sanitary. Ikotoilets are now widely used, and have been a good way to break down stigmas about sanitation that permeated the country. Miss Kenya has even made an appearance, as has Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and the famous Kenyan comedian Makhola Keya. “We have got people talking about toilets,” Kuria told Forbes.
In 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offered a reward for a redesigned toilet that could be produced cheaply and installed anywhere in the world. The winning team was a group of researchers from the California Institute of Technology, who proposed a solar-powered toilet that converted human waste into fertilizer and treated the water used in each flush so it could be reused again and again. Earlier this year, a prototype version of that toilet was brought to India for practical trials. You can read more about it in our story from earlier this year.
Here's a good news story with a Canadian twist that we told you about a couple of years ago. Cordell Jacks and Tamara Baker were the recipients of the Dubai International Award for Best Practices for their work running the sanitation and hygiene program for the Winnipeg-based non-profit International Development Enterprises. Jacks and Baker's work helps poor families in Cambodia gain access to low cost, easy-to-install toilets. The EZ Latrine, as it's called, costs just $25 and can be installed in just a few hours. And it's made a big impact in a place where, as of 2010, more people had cell phones than access to a clean toilet. You can read all about their work here.