Stories: Sanitation

  • In Rural India, MIT Grads Aim to Improve Access to Sanitary Pads for Women

    DUMANDIH, India — Anita Kumari was scared and apprehensive when, at age 13, she first started her period. Though she'd learned about menstruation at her school in rural eastern India, she didn't fully understand what was happening to her body. But her mother calmed her nerves and gave her a cloth to use to absorb the blood. Like the...

  • When Temporary Toilets Become a Fixture in Poor Communities

    KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: After disasters like Hurricane Sandy, one of the things that government does is bring in temporary toilets, those big blue or green plastic ones you see at festivals or on construction sites. But there are parts of the world where that temporary toilet has become a permanent solution for poor and refugee communities. NPR's Robert Smith...

  • Reinvent the Toilet, Save the World? Ecuador Is Betting on It.

    The composting toilet is adorable; all cheery plastic curves in a bright Smurf blue. It seems to belong in a playhouse. Outside, roosters strut and crow, pigs snort and snuffle in their cinderblock pens, and a gaggle of children race around the countryside east of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city. The late afternoon is swollen with heat, but the...

  • Talking Toilets in Ecuador

    Drive north out of the gritty port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the traffic-clogged streets widen to broad highways lined with spiffy new shopping malls, American fast food restaurants… and gated community after gated community. Guayaquil reminds me of the few other South American cities I’ve visited in the sense that the income disparities here are vast...

  • To Get People to Build Toilets, Turn to Subsidies

    The one public bathroom in Ponkrum collapsed a few years ago. An effort to build a new one yielded a large pit that is used for trash, not defecation. For the people living in the small village near the Ghanian coast, there is no other option than going out in the open. They are a part of the 15 percent...

  • A Lack of Clean Water and Sanitation in the Philippines Kills 55 People Every Day

    Last September, Suzette Flores knew something was wrong when her toddler, Rob Ezequiel Garcia, vomited five times in a single day. It was the first time her 19-month-old son had ever been so sick, she said.  When he developed a fever, she rushed him to the hospital. "Five hours later he died," the 31-year-old said of her only child. ...

  • WaterAid: Providing Safe Water and Sanitation in Ethiopia

    Water is essential to life. Without water, humans and our world would not survive. Yet, 11% of the world’s population –  783 million people –  do not have access to safe water. Although many people living in the western world including myself often take water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as “WASH”) for granted, there are...

  • The Site of Several 2016 Olympic Aquatic Events Has 195 Times the Safe Amount of Sewage in the Water

    Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes … “Ew, what’s that smell?” At Ipanema beach in January, the organization Meu Rio staged a protest in an attempt to make it known that thousands of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the ocean off Rio’s coast...

  • Liberation Ecology: Poo to Compost to Nutrition and Sustainable Living

    World Toilet Day [on 19th November] reports that 40% of the world’s population do not have access to toilets, which is about 1 in 3 people. Sanitation and waste disposal is a human right, but like most rights it exists only on paper and in echo chambers of election promises, UN organizations, and NGOs. The consequences of this...

  • Sanitation Over HIV Fixation

    We are fifteen minutes late for an appointment with the Chief Macha of Choma, leader of the Tonga speaking people in southern Zambia. Our troop of journalists arrive with some embarrassment, but are welcomed into his home with a graciousness that confirms our tardiness - which we could blame on 'African time' - is far surpassed by hospitality on...