The August issue of National Geographic magazine explores how open air defecation practices are becoming increasingly hazardous to public health in our rapidly urbanizing world.

Open defecation is on the decline worldwide, but nearly 950 million people still practise it—often leading to widespread disease and increased death rates.

“Defecating in the open is as old as humankind. As long as population densities were low and the earth could safely absorb human wastes, it caused few problems. But as more people gathered in towns and cities, we gradually learned the link between hygiene and health and, in particular, the importance of avoiding contact with feces. Today open defecation is on the decline worldwide, but nearly 950 million people still routinely practice it. Some 569 million of them live in India. Walk along its train tracks or rural roads, and you will readily encounter the evidence.”

 

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