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Raising awareness on open defecation in Indonesia

Indonesia has a massive problem of open defecation. The WHO/UNICEF JMP reports estimates that there are around 55 million people practicing open defecation in the country, or one quarter approximately of the population. This is the second highest country total, after India. Open defecation is mostly by the poorest populations and they bear the heaviest burden. Children – already vulnerable and marginalized - pay the highest price in respect of their survival and development. This well-established traditional behaviour is deeply ingrained through practice from early childhood.

Ten arguments for why gender should be a central focus for universal health coverage advocates

To make universal health coverage (UHC) truly universal we need an approach which places gender and power at the centre of our analysis. This means we need a discussion about who is included, how health is defined, what coverage entails and whether equity is ensured. To celebrate Universal Health Coverage Day RinGs has put together a list of ten arguments for why gender should be a central focus within UHC.

Need to clean our biases first, then our streets

The country is ostensibly in the throes of a great social movement for sanitation. Gandhi’s name is evoked, Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads from the front, ministers lift brooms for cameras, and officers, college and school children take oaths against littering and to clean their surroundings. Earlier the PM pledges in his Independence Day speech toilets for girls and boys in all schools.

What to do with infant poo? The blind spot of the blind spot

After a few years researching and working on sanitation, I feel (felt) that I have a good knowledge about the topic, or at least good knowledge of most of it and a clear picture of the areas I should learn more about. Moreover as a shit-worker I –and probably most of us in the sector– have developed a sort of pride or even vanity about being a herald of a neglected cause...

We have a lot to learn...

Last week’s Water and Health Conference held at the University of North Carolina’s Water Institute had an array of different workshops, side events and oral and poster presentations focusing on sanitation. After only a day into the week-long event two important messages started to emerge. Firstly, the sanitation problem is endemic in certain parts of the world, especially India, and unfortunately we do not know a lot and have an awful lot to learn.

Modi's Clean India Campaign: Don’t Waste the Opportunity

Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister (PM) of India, launched a Swach Bharat (Clean India) campaign on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  Senior government officials, politicians and Bollywood actors were seen holding brooms in their hands cleaning neighbourhoods and getting photographed. The twitterati was abuzz with excitement. The campaign was filled with images and messages. The PM aims to have a Clean India by the time of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019. The campaign is timely but will it be effective.

Action Learning: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s missing master key

The number and nature of the many forces that intertwine to trap rural Indians in filth and infections are still not fully recognised. Widespread preference for open defecation (OD), subsidised toilets, corruption, caste and divided communities, concepts of purity, population increase and density, faecally-transmitted infections (FTIs) causing undernutrition (‘shit stunts’), diminishing cognitive ability and damaging immune systems, and the multiple physical and social harms inflicted on women and girls – these are among the forces that interlock as a syndrome - a net, a trap, a prison - escape from which is fiendishly difficult.

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