Unicef India has launched ‘Take Poo to the Loo’, an innovative digital campaign focusing on putting an end to open defecation. The three month initiative aims to create awareness on the issue.

The Indian Institute of Technology is to 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.

The idea is to reach young people and create an active layer of advocates who can speak out against open defecation. Through interactive social media components and initial on ground activations across Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune, Unicef’s campaign aims to create the much needed buzz and noise against open defecation.

Crafted in the language of young people, it is quirky, informative and inspiring. The campaign aims to promote youth participation and gives different tools such us games and mobile applications to ‘put poo in its right place’, the toilet.

Users will also have the opportunity to participate in interactive activities through a website as well as a Facebook page, and can go to Twitter and Youtube to show their commitment to end open defecation by signing a pledge to the President of India.

Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out to the fields to defecate rather than using a toilet that ensures no direct contact with faeces. Where open defecation is practiced, excreta left exposed and untreated pose a significant public health hazard.

50% lack facility

India has made tremendous progress in the provision and use of toilets in the last 20 years, reducing the practice of open defecation from 75 per cent of the population in 1990, to 51 per cent in 2010. However, it is still home to the world’s largest population of people who defecate in the open.

“In India, more than 620 million people defecate in the open. This represents half the population. The other half have become blind to the practice, it is a socially accepted norm,” notes Sue Coates, Chief Wash at Unicef India.

By creating a buzz, the aim is to put pressure on different section of society who need to act to make change happen, she added.

To help youngsters open their eyes to the issue of open defecation, Poo, the campaign protagonist, is to break loose on them. He will be creating havoc in different cities, on ground activation, and online assets. In addition, to amplify the impact of the campaign, a series of videos will have Poo caught in different situations.

Partnerships are crucial to amplify the impact of the campaign. Unicef India is working with different organisations, corporates, institutions and key influencers to spread the word about open defecation. For example, non-government organisation Protsahan is organising workshops for children on the topic, using different forms of art to engage them in the discussion.