Skip to content

r.i.c.e.

Policy memo on toilet technology & culture

Policy Outreach, Sanitation, Social Hierarchy1 min read

This notes asks why rural India has uniquely high rates of open defecation. It first explains that the “usual suspects” – GDP, poverty, education, water access – are not to blame for widespread open defecation in rural India.  Second, it discusses how the sanitation technology used in rural India differs from the rest of the developing world – in short, very few rural Indian households use latrines with inexpensive underground soak pits. 

Third, it presents qualitative and quantitative evidence that Hindu practices of purity and pollution, as well as India’s unique history and renegotiation of untouchability, complicate the adoption of the kinds of simple, inexpensive latrines that have been used to reduce open defecation in other developing countries. 

Finally, it ends with a brief comment on implications for Indian government policy. Download document

About

r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

501(c)(3) Status

Privacy Policy

Research Themes

Content by Category

© 2021 r.i.c.e.