Let’s Talk About Toilets

Fifty-five percent of the global population lacks access to safe sanitation, a deadly global health disparity that rarely finds its way into the spotlight. In this episode, we examine the scope of the problem, and the cultural challenges that have made it surprisingly difficult to fix.

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Podcast Host and Producer

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Tom Slaymaker
    Senior Statistics and Monitoring Specialist, WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)
  • Sangita Vyas
    Associate Director, Research Institute for Compassionate Economics
  • Brooke Yamakoshi
    WASH Specialist, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Show Notes

More than four billion people on Earth do not have access to safe sanitation, a public health necessity that prevents disease, death, and loss of human potential. The issue is especially prevalent in India, a country that accounts for over half of the world’s open defecation. In this episode, three experts examine toilet access as an essential human need and explain the cultural and economic barriers that have made the problem so intransigent.


From CFR


A Toilet for All: Strengthening Health Outcomes


From Sangita Vyas


The Surprising Truth of Open Defecation in India,” Tedx Talks


From Tom Slaymaker

5 Things You Need to Know About Sanitation & Drinking Water,” UNICEF


Read More


World Toilet Day, United Nations


Flushed and Forgotten: Sanitation and Wastewater in Rural Communities in the United States,” Institute for the Study of Human Rights


Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene,” UNICEF


Global WASH Fast Facts,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Poor Sanitation’s Threat to Public Health,” World Health Organization (WHO)


Plan to End Open Defecation by 2030 [PDF],” UNICEF


About Swachh Bharat Mission,” India Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation


Cleaning Human Waste,” Human Rights Watch


Watch or Listen


India's 'Untouchables' Are Still Being Forced to Collect Human Waste by Hand,” TIME 


Unblocking India’s Sewers...by Hand,” BBC News



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