STORY Aug 09, 2018

Globally, more than 1 in 10 people defecate in the open

Open defecation is a serious threat to the environment and to health.  In 2015 an estimated 895 million people (12 percent of the global population) defecated outside in street gutters, behind bushes or in to open bodies of water, contaminating sources of drinking water and spreading deadly diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery.

In both low-income and lower middle-income countries, nearly a quarter of the population practice open defecation, while in upper middle income countries less than 2 percent do so. This practice is more common in rural areas where there is a greater need for sanitary facilities.  For example, in Niger, 84 percent of people in rural areas defecate in open, compared with 13 percent of those in urban areas.