India, where 600,000 people die of water related illness each year (world total is 1.7 million), and where 1/4 of girls don’t attend school because there is no proper toilet facilities, headway is being made in improved sanitation and risk education, according to Bill Gates, who blogged about the improvement this month.
The problem costs India an estimated $106b per year.
Two things cause most of the problem: access to proper toilet with waste treatment (to remove the pathogens that cause illness) in a country where most public spaces are used for defecation, and education about the necessity of using sanitary toilets, according to Gates.
In India, it is not feasible to build sewer systems and treatment facilities. For most toilets, one way or another water has to be carried to the toilet regularly. India is testing new toilet technology to find other ways of preventing disease.
As evidence of the progress Gates lauds, he points towards Clean India, the Indian government’s campaign to clean up the country, which includes ambassadors and toilet-use monitoring, and the statistic the organisation reports that 63% of citizens now have access to proper sanitation, up from 42% in 2014, and that 30% of villages have been declared free of open defecation, up from 5% in 2015.