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Open defecation is the practice of people defecating outside and not into a designated toilet. The term is widely used in literature about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues in developing countries. Open defecation causes public health problems in areas where people defecate in fields, urban parks, rivers, and open trenches in close proximity to the living space of others.
Eliminating open defecation is the main aim of improving access to sanitation worldwide and is a proposed indicator for sustainable development goals. Even if toilets are available, people still need to be convinced to refrain from open defecation and use toilets. Therefore, the need for behavioural change is critical in addition to the provision of toilets. A preference for open defecation may be due to traditional cultural practices or lack of access to toilets, or both.
Extreme poverty and lack of sanitation are statistically linked. Eliminating open defecation is said to be an important part of development efforts. High levels of open defecation in a country are usually correlated with a high child mortality, as well as high levels of undernutrition, high levels of poverty, and large disparities between rich and poor
About one billion people, or 15 percent of the global population, practice open defecation.(page v) India has the highest number of people practicing open defecation, around 490 million people, or nearly a third of the population. Most of it occurs in rural areas, where the prevalence is estimated at 52 percent of the population, as opposed to urban areas, where prevalence is estimated at 7.5 percent. The other countries with the highest number of people openly defecating are Indonesia (54 million), followed by Pakistan (41 million), Nigeria (39 million), Ethiopia (34 million) and Sudan