India's Mr. Poo Health Campaign
Do you see the a connection between a toilet and poor health? Well, in India, this connection seems to have never been connected. Actually, the 620 million there who defecate outside in semi-public areas or the 70% of rural indians who do not use a toilet to go poo in, or, if you prefer, No.2, never were connected. But that is not all that is most disturbing to what we think India is, a modern society, some 29 million school children that attend schools have absolutely no place to do it when nature calls. Many schools there have no restrooms! OMG. What does the school do then? I guess the kids just find a place to take the dump or pee.
According to Unicef, whether it is urban or rural, poo is everywhere in India-playgrounds, outside offices. "Look before you step" applies in this country. To change this custom and just gross bad health habit, Unicef has launched the Mr. Poo campaign. Since more than 50% of all Indians do not use a toilet, it becomes a smelly thing to sell. While the campaign encourages the use of a toilet (duh!), there is a data side to it as well. Apps for cell phones allow for a person to tell the location of where feces exist on an overlaid map of many cities. This is so you will not step into it. I am not kidding.
Some agencies in India claim the campaign is demeaning for the poor. But, the campaign is complete with youtube videos and a catchy jingle to encourage Indians to use a toilet instead of watering plants or providing natural fertilizer. Open defecation is a health hazard to such diseases as polio, giardiasis, hepatitus A, and infectious diarrhea. A quarter of all children who died in 2012 world-wide were kids in India. Germs from defecation can stunt growth.
In 1990, about 75% of Indians still did not use a toilet to defecate in. I know, this is astounding in a modern world. Bangladesh has nearly completed the campaign and only 10% still do not use a toilet. Although, India has many seemingly modern cities, there is a serious lack of restrooms for one to use. To help change a long custom of pooing outside, many ads appeal to Indians about how their monuments should be kept clean, appealing to national pride.
Whether Unicef's Poo campaign will change the customs and habits used by Indians for eons is a question mark. But as the lyrics state, "We've got to take the poo to the loo, if that's what you got to do".
Okay, time to cross India off my list to visit.