You may have missed this timely statistic, but India has the highest ‘open defecation’ rate in the world. As the British Telegraph reports, “With 620 million people creating 65 million kilograms of open waste each day. Only half of its population use toilets at all.” To answer that challenge, UNICEF has launched a new campaign called “Let’s Take the Poo to the Loo” – or more formally, the “Poo To Loo Initiative.” As the Telegraph describes it:
“Meet Mr Poo – the unlikely star of Unicef’s public health campaign in India, aimed at encouraging children to use the lavatory. Mr Poo features in a short educational video as part of the Poo2Loo initiative, chasing a man down the street until the townspeople construct a giant lavatory to flush public defecation away. The video is accompanied by a song, whose lyrics include:“first thing in the morning, what do I see/a pile of s— staring at me.’’
Bold? Probably if you live in the West. But in a culture where there are more mobile phones than toilets, “open defecation” is a real problem. The government felt something needed to be done, and how do you reach young people in India? Social media, music videos, and TV – with a little Bollywood style dancing tossed in for good measure.
And using the latest technology, there’s a mobile phone app that allows you to report cases of public defecation, and log it on a city map using GPS.
It may not be a problem in suburban Dallas, but in a country like India? I can personally report that it is. I’ll be curious to see if the campaign makes an impact.
What do you think? Is it a smart approach to use media to solve an international social issue like this?