Efforts Encouraging Toilet Use Might Be As Important As Improving Access To Sanitation Facilities

Washington Post: It’s World Toilet Day. Why do so many people lack adequate sanitation facilities?
YuJung Julia Lee, assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at Colorado State University

“…No. 6 on the list of U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is to achieve universal access to adequate sanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2030, recognizing the dangers of waterborne disease. But 61 percent of the global population still lacked safely managed sanitation services in 2015. Why has progress toward this goal been so hard to achieve? Rural Africa and South Asia are where the sanitation problems are concentrated — and India has one of the worst sanitation records. More than half of the rural population still practices open defecation. Here are three things my research on India’s sanitation progress suggests: 1. The answer is not just constructing more toilets. … 2. Having more women in leadership roles helps improve sanitation. … 3. Promoting latrine use is key. … If the goal is to improve global public health through sanitation, [our] research findings suggest looking not just at achieving universal toilet access but also paying more attention and resources to efforts to encourage their use” (11/19).