Nearly a Billion People Still Defecate Outdoors. Here’s Why. Nat Geo Magazine, August 2017.
The problem isn’t just a lack of toilets—it’s a lack of toilets that people want to use. The result: millions of deaths and disease-stunted lives.
At 65, Moolchand, bandy-legged and white-haired, has no problem rising for his predawn hunts. In fact he revels in them.
“I hide along the lane with my flashlight,” he says in a low, excited voice, gesturing down the main road of Gaji Khedi village, in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. “And I look for people walking with a lota.”
A lota is a water container, traditionally made of brass but these days more often of plastic. Spied outdoors in the early morning, it all but screams that its owner is headed for a field or roadside to move his or her bowels—the water is for rinsing.
“I give chase,” Moolchand continues. “I blow my whistle, and I dump out their lota. Sometimes I take it away and burn it.” Moolchand sees himself as defending a hard-won honor: The district has declared his village “open defecation free.”
“People get angry and shout at me when I stop them,” he says. “But the government has given villagers lots of help to construct a toilet, so there is no excuse.”
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