There are more than 620 million people (half of the population of India) who defecate in the open. Open defecation is a major environmental and health issue that contributes significantly to needless deaths due to diarrhoea and stunting in children. It is a risk to the safety of women and deprives them of basic dignity on a daily basis. In spite of the tragic consequences, there is a lack of support to eliminate this completely from the country.
Unicef India has initiated a digital campaign called 'Take Poo to the Loo" that focuses on eliminating open defecation and creating awareness of the same to the masses.The 3 month campaign initiative targets the urban youth largely so as to make them aware of the consequences of open defecation which then will help them to bring about a change in the existing situation and norms in the country.
Take Poo to the Loo is a digital campaign which is active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The idea is to reach to the large chunk of people especially the youth and create awareness.
Also the YouTube channel has a video called the Poo Dabba Dance which tries to spread awareness to even more people.
The Website of the campaign provides facts and statistics about open defecating. It also provides a space for people to pledge for the cause.
Not only is the campaign being promoted on social media; but Mr.Poo, the protagonist of this sordid tale of open defecation has been roaming the streets of Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad to make the issue of open defecation be known to most of the people in the country.
The Poo Man is going down on streets again on 20th December in Delhi at MGF Metropolitian mall, Gurgon and on 21st December in Mumbai at Nirmal Lifestyle mall, Mulund encouraging more people to pledge and take measures to eliminate it.
The campaign will see participation by youth advocates who will be roaming the streets and encouraging people to tweet from the locations themselves, thereby giving them power to put Poo in its rightful place – the toilet.
Sue Coates, Chief WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) says, “Open defecation is a widespread practice impacting all of us. Through the different campaign elements – including videos, posters, games, mobile applications and a soon-to-be-released anthem, we are encouraging young people to confront this fact. Being the lucky few to have toilets at home, at work and in the social venues where we meet, we are rarely inconvenienced and we don’t notice open defecation; but we are all affected," she says.
"Poo is all around us; it is a contamination threat to the safety of the food we eat, to the water we drink. UNICEF’s initiative is to show Poo bombarding everyday lives, so that people see the prevalence of open-defecation and collectively say ‘no more in India," adds Coates.
Caroline Den Dulk, Chief Advocacy and Communication, UNICEF India spoke about the twitter activity against open defecation: Armed with the power of Twitter, UNICEF will take digitally driven public engagement to another level – more the numbers of Tweets, more will Poo, the protagonist be compelled to move towards the nearest loo in the city.
Pictures of people supporting the campaign in different areas. Question is will this really help bring about change.