Life without toilets: the photographer tackling a global taboo

Life without toilets: the photographer tackling a global taboo. The Guardian, March 19, 2018.

Andrea Bruce’s prize-winning images from India, Haiti and Vietnam document the deeply sensitive issue of open defecation, which affects 1.1 billion of the world’s poorest people

One of the biggest issues at the intersection of sanitation, poverty and global health, open defecation has also long been one of the hardest to represent visually.

toilet

Phham Thi Lan, 31, and her son, Vinh, four, at Vinh Xuyen village, Tinh Biên district, Vietnam. Outdoor toilets are often sited over fish farms in the south of the country

For photographer Andrea Bruce, however, the challenge meant she did not have to think too long before agreeing to the year-long project documenting an issue both deeply sensitive and hugely important. The resulting photo essay, commissioned by National Geographic, has been selected for a first prize in the prestigious Pictures of the Year awards.

The US photographer, who has covered wars, and depicted the lives of sex workers in Baghdad after the US invasion in 2003, recalls: “To be honest, when they approached me and said, ‘We want you to do a story on open defecation,’ a million things went through my head.”

Bruce’s images – taken in India, Haiti and Vietnam – tell a compelling and dignified story about a global problem affecting 1.1 billion of the world’s poorest people.

Read the complete article.

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