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Open Defecation

Map No.



Open defecation refers to the practise of defecating in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water or other open spaces. The highest rate of population practicing open defecation live in Ethiopia, more than 75% of the population. Overall there are still six countries where more than half of the population practices open defecation due to a lack of sanitation infrastructure, all of them Sub-Saharan countries.

The highest total number of people live in India, followed by Nigeria and Indonesia. The highest rate of open defecation among urban population has Sao Tome and Principe, with more than 40%, among the rural population Eritrea is leading with almost 90%.

The elimination of open defecation is recognised as a top priority for improving health, nutrition and productivity of developing country populations and is explicitly mentioned in SDG target 6.2.

From the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries. 


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For any commercial use (including in publishing) a map use license needs to be obtained.

Technical Notes

Territories are proportional to the estimated number of people who still practice open defecation there in 2015.

Data sources
This map uses data by World Health Organization (last accessed March 2018). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

All modification to the original data source are noted in our data sheets. Data for this map will soon be available as a download.

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