(Devex Op-ed): How to eliminate open defecation by 2030

By Junaid Ahmad. Originally published on Devex

Residents in Mymensingh, Bangladesh participate in a mobile sanitation project. Photo by: Ashley Wheaton / SuSanA Secretariat / CC BY

Residents in Mymensingh, Bangladesh participate in a mobile sanitation project. Photo by: Ashley Wheaton / SuSanA Secretariat / CC BY

I have enormous pride in what my own country, Bangladesh, has been able to achieve in virtually eliminating open defecation over the last two decades, and often ask myself why other countries haven’t achieved the same. Even today, 1 billion people still practice open defecation around the world.

The challenge to eliminate this practice by 2030 is not trivial. The good news is we now know what it takes and that’s why I’m optimistic this goal is feasible.

Political will

Over half of the people practicing open defecation live in India, and while there have been marginal reductions over the last 10 years there, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration is now prioritizing this issue and elevating cleanliness and sanitation as a national development priority. Such political will at the highest level is absolutely fundamental, as demonstrated by other countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Once political will is harnessed, the path to eradicating open defecation falls within the line of sight. Continue reading

Sanitation highlighted at Global Citizen Festival

Originally posted on WSSCC

The Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on September 28th, 2014 brought the call against poverty and injustice in the developing world out of the meeting rooms of the United Nations General Assembly, to a massive show of youth support.

The jubilation of 60,000 screaming fans followed the political equivalent of a rock star performance by Jim Kim, the President of the World Bank, speaking about peace, youth and the future. He was joined by Prime Minister Modi who has been vocal about tackling the issue of sanitation in India since taking office earlier this year.

World leaders shared the stage with Raya, the Sanitation Muppet created by Sesame Street and endorsed by the UN Deputy Secretary General to carry forward his “Call to Action on Sanitation.” Their interaction brought home the fact that ending open defecation is now a truly global movement.

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