The Curse of Open Defecation

Over 600 million people in India defecate in the open. The result is a host of diseases and problems, including diarrhea, stunting of children’s growth, high infant mortality and assaults on women who go out to defecate after dark.

Yet if toilets are  constructed  without bringing about the required attitudinal change to sanitation,  they remain largely unused or maintained in a filthy manner.

Amarampedu Project

The Rotary Club of Madras embarked on an ambitious pilot project to create an open defecation free community in Amarampedu village in Gummidipoondi.

The  project uses a variant of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) method which does not rely on education but instead relies on “triggers” such as disgust and shame to make communities change their behaviour.  Toilet construction thereafter is with the full participation of the community.  Professional consultants were hired to bring about the attitudinal change.


The Project was spectacularly successful.  All 109 households in the village now have toilets, up from just one when the project started and the village is near open defecation free.

The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is doing a case study on it.  Past President of Rotary International and Trustee of the Rotary Foundation, Kalyan Banerjee made a special visit to Amarampedu on June 24.  He praised the efforts of SN Srikanth, President of the Rotary Club of Madras and his team and  has called for extending the model to the whole districts and then to the whole of India.

In the recently held Rotary meeting, Mr. Banerjee talked about the International Acclamation of Rotary club of Madras’ initiatives,  “Flame for Polio Eradication” and “Open Defacation Free” at the World Rotary Convention held at Sao Paulo, Brazil.