Open defecation refers to the practise of defecating in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water, or other open spaces. Defecating in the open is an affront to dignity and risk to children’s nutrition and to community health. The elimination of open defecation is recognized as a top priority for improving health, nutrition, and productivity of developing country populations and is explicitly mentioned in SDG target 6.2.
Open defecation rates have been decreasing steadily. Open defecation rates have been decreasing steadily. Between 2000 and 2022, the number of people practising open defecation declined from 1,3 million to 419 million, reducing by more than two thirds. In 2022, there were still 36 countries with open defecation rates between 5% and 25%. In 13 countries, more than one in four people still practice open defecation.