In DepthSanitation

For toilets, money matters

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Science  17 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6232, pp. 272
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6232.272

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About 1 billion people in the developing world still walk out to a field, the bushes, or an open waterway to defecate instead of using a latrine. That has contributed to high rates of diarrheal disease. The problem is particularly acute in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to build 111 million toilets as part of a plan to end open defecation by October 2019. But exactly how to get there is surprisingly controversial. Now, a large, controlled experiment, conducted in India's neighbor Bangladesh and published online this week in Science, finds that the key to getting people to build hygienic latrines is to subsidize the cost. Although other experts say these results are important, some caution that building toilets doesn't always mean people will use them or be healthier.