September 9, 2015 | Category: Blog | Author:

Weekly roundup: Video series on toilets in India

#GIVEASHIT: Half of India’s 1.2 billion people defecate outside every day, which causes serious health, social and economic problems for the country. A group called Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI) is fighting alongside communities to end open defecation — for them, ending the practice is part of a larger struggle for health equity and social and economic justice.

A series of five short documentaries about the group’s work rolls out starting  today, with a new video released weekly in September and into October. The title: “#GiveAShit.” The first film in the series is a story about storytelling — how a puppet theater works with SHRI to help educate and organize people around the issue.

I love SHRI. They say the problem is not that people who poop outside don’t know any better. If that were the case, a simple educational campaign would do the trick. Instead, they say, the problem is structural. Many people don’t have access to toilets. And even those people who are within walking distance of a toilet, it may be impractical or dangerous to go — especially at night and if there’s no outdoor lighting. And people who try to take advantage of government funding for toilets face bureaucracy and corruption. SHRI takes a community-organizing approach.