The number of people that are still practicing open defecation, that is not using a toilet, is over 51 million all around Indonesia; two thirds of whom them come from rural areas.
This well-established traditional behavior is ingrained through practice from early childhood. Other reasons cited for its persistence include poverty (the inability to afford toilets), landlessness, tenants in housing without toilets (usually urban), and deep rooted cultural and social norms that have established open defecation as an acceptable practice.
The effects are severe, and children – already vulnerable and marginalized – are the ones that pay the highest price in respect of their survival and development. Every hour between 15 and 22 children die in Indonesia – in most cases from preventable causes linked to diarrhea and pneumonia which can be drastically reduced by good sanitation and hygiene (from Levels & Trends in Child Mortality – 2014 Report. Estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation).
88% of diarrhea deaths are linked to incomplete water and sanitation service provision. (Source Fewtrell L, Prüss-Üstün A, Bos R, Gore F, Bartram 2007. Water, sanitation and hygiene: quantifying the health impact at national and local levels in countries with incomplete water supply and sanitation coverage). In addition, open defecation results in so much excreta in the environment that children's bodies are constantly fighting these and this toll takes its toll on their bodies resulting in many children bing affected by stunting, when they are too short for their age.
Poor sanitation also costs Indonesia at least 56 trillion rupiah per year or 2.3% of GDP, and more than half of it is associated with health costs. (Source: Economic impact of sanitation, WSP World Bank 2008).
We need to work together to fight open defecation with our knowledge and action. Learn about the impact of open defecation on Indonesia here. Act now to help make Indonesia free from open defecation!