Published on Data Blog

Open defecation nearly halved since 2000 but is still practiced by 670 million

Open defecation is the practice of people defecating outside, such as in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water. Between 2000 and 2017, the world nearly halved the number of people practicing open defecation from 1.3 billion to around 670 million (9% of the global population). In India, the number of people practicing open defecation decreased by 55% from 767 million to 344 million between 2000 and 2017, but India still had the largest number of people practicing open defecation in 2017, followed by Nigeria and Indonesia. 

Open defecation contaminates sources of drinking water and spreads diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. The World Health Organization estimates that inadequate sanitation causes 432,000 diarrheal deaths annually. Frequent diarrhea increases the risk of malnutrition among children. Open defecation also harms human dignity and safety. Women and girls who practice open defecation are vulnerable to sexual violence.


Haruna Kashiwase

Consultant, Development Data Group, World Bank

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