afaqs!

UNICEF fights against open defecation

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | November 13, 2013
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UNICEF India has tied up with many partners like Protsahan (an NGO), Domex (a toilet cleaner brand) and IIT (India's leading technical education institution), amongst others, to spread awareness.

Let's 'Take Poo To The Loo' is the next cry from UNICEF India. The organisation has launched a digital-led campaign to fight against open defection in India. The three-month campaign will be extended to on-ground activations across Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

Mr Poo - the protagonist of the campaign

Take Poo To The Loo

Snapshot of the website www.poo2loo.com

Twitter page of the campaign

Caroline den Dulk

The official communication from UNICEF mentions, "The idea is to reach young people and create an active layer of advocates who can speak out against open defecation, further disseminate the message and influence their communities, families and peers to do the same. Collectively, this voice will help to stimulate the creation of a new social norm, one where everyone, always uses a toilet."

The campaign will be spread across the social media components and on the dedicated website, www.poo2loo.com. The campaign aims to promote youth participation, giving different tools such as games and mobile applications to 'Put Poo in its right place' - the toilet. There will be a game released on Facebook, wherein 'Poo' will be seen creating havoc in the city (markets, colleges and other places) and the player has to pick it up (with the cursor) and put it in the toilet.

The mobile app will enable people to place a sign board on any street. The organisation observes that there are many signposts like 'go slow', 'speed breaker', 'no horn' and 'hospital ahead', amongst others. But there aren't many for public toilets. Thus, the mobile app will enable users to put up signboards wherever they see open defecation.

People can also sign a pledge, which will then be sent to the President of India, to show their commitment to end open defecation. Mr Poo is the campaign's protagonist and will be visible on all the communication being made around the campaign. To amplify the impact, a series of videos featuring Mr Poo caught in different situations will be released, accompanied by a song. Cut outs of Mr Poo will be placed at different places in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad and people can get themselves clicked with him.

In an official statement, Sue Coates, chief WASH, UNICEF India, says, "In India, more than 620 million people defecate in the open; this represents half the population. Human excreta in the environment represents a risk to all of us, and, therefore, we have a duty to raise our voice, view our duty as citizens differently and support efforts to end this practice. The best way to start is to spread the word that this is not acceptable in the India we all want to live in. By creating buzz, we aspire to put pressure on all different actors in society who need to act to make change happen."

UNICEF India has tied up with many partners like Protsahan (an NGO), Domex (a toilet cleaner brand) and IIT (India's leading technical education institution) amongst others to spread awareness about campaign. Protsahan is organising workshops for children on this topic using different forms of art to engage them in the discussion.

The Indian Institute of Technology will contribute to the initiative by mobilising students in the campus in Delhi against open defecation and organising an event on sanitation technology options to stop open defecation.

Domex, through its partnership, will implement a campaign on open defecation which includes the development of a website, among other assets, and will contribute part proceeds on the purchase of every bottle in India from October to December. The funds will be used by UNICEF on programmes to improve sanitation for children and communities.

The organisation is looking forward to more partnerships. "Open defecation is a pressing public health issue and no sector can address it on its own. Civil society organisations, private sector, youth organisations, government, academia, decision makers, UN agencies and individuals have to work together on this," suggests Caroline den Dulk, chief, advocacy and communication, UNICEF India.

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