Making the world open defecation free: Possibility or dream?

Shyama Ramani et al., UNU-MERIT et al.

A UNU-MERIT web-based event in collaboration with Friend In Need India

Academic Research Pitches on World Toilet Day

Sanitation feeds into nearly all the other Sustainable Development Goals through improving heath, reducing child mortality and school absenteeism and promoting gender empowerment. Ensuring access to safe sanitation promotes human equality and dignity that in turn will drive the participation of the poor to eliminate poverty. Thus, the achievement of this seemingly simple goal could hold the key to others as well. Yet, there are still a number of challenges.

There are still 2 billion people without access to a functioning toilet (World Health Organization, 2019). Governments, public agencies, firms and charities are working hard to build toilets for the poor. However, the dominant model of the low-cost toilet, the two-pit latrine model is not suitable for many regions such as coastal areas. Increase in sanitation coverage does not automatically guarantee usage or maintenance of toilets and many toilets lie unused. Problems of partially constructed toilets, lack of running water inside toilets, non-provision of hand washing facilities, defective construction of toilets and non-maintenance of toilets are common problems noted in sanitation interventions. Indeed, because of such defects, in some instances, there has even been an increase in the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases after the construction of toilets. So, how are these challenges to be addressed? What have we learnt from the sanitation coverage drives of the past 20 years?

Come and listen to researchers pitching their ideas to address the big necessity on World Toilet Day! Register for the event here:

Each researcher will have 8 minutes to pitch her/his ideas. Audience will have 7 minutes to ask questions. There will be 4 speakers in all. And the audience will vote on the feasibility of their propositions and provide feedback after each pitch.

Researchers who are working on sanitation around the world: Pitch us your ideas based on your research that can contribute to efficient sanitation coverage and usage to eliminate open defecation. Send your abstract (between 200 and 800 words based on your present/past research) by email to as soon as possible – deadline being 5 November. Authors of the final four selected abstracts will be informed by 10 November. All will be invited to the webinar. If you have any questions about the event, please write to:

Venue: Zoom

Date: 19 November 2020

Time: 10:30  CEST