1B Around World Defecate in Public, Warns UN
It's a huge health risk, says new study
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2014 2:50 PM CDT
Indian migrant laborers await their turn to bathe at a public tube well in New Delhi, India.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

(Newser) – A new UN report warns of an under-the-radar health risk: It estimates that 1 billion impoverished people around the world still have no access to toilets, reports Reuters. While that number is down from 1.3 billion in 1990, it still leaves far too many who "defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy," says the study. The practice puts them at risk for a wide range of health problems, including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid, and it's especially dangerous for young children.

India is the worst offender, with an estimated 600 million public defecators, but the report also singles out sub-Saharan Africa because it has 26 nations where the practice is increasing. In Nigeria, for instance, the UN estimates 39 million public defecators, up from 23 million in 1990. The report says a big part of the problem is that people don't understand the health risks, as evidenced by unused latrines put into place by UNICEF in various poor nations. Along those lines, India's UNICEF recently unveiled an animated character named "Mr. Poo" to spread the word, reports the Wall Street Journal. There's even a song.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
1B Around World Defecate in Public, Warns UN is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 44 comments
May 9, 2014 10:46 AM CDT
i am guessing this number doesn't include the million man/woman monkeys who do the same here in the US, while sipping their 40's in a paper bag and squirting out little welfare bundles......install toilets big enough to flush the bodies too, and label the toilet paper as CRACK....and we will begin to eliminate this very DARK problem here in the US
Arthur Vandelay
May 9, 2014 10:33 AM CDT
My son worked in the middle east with a French oil service company. My son said the guys would lift up their costumes and just defecate in public.
May 9, 2014 4:22 AM CDT
Why doesn't Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defecation League do something about this?? Also, Mr. Poo is a blatant rip-off of Mr. Hanky.