Open Defecation Reporting

Short description 

Open defecation affects a third of Africa. Knowing where open defecation occurs is important for it’s education and eradication.

Crisis statement 

Many countries across the globe are being labeled as ‘vast toilets’. It is estimated that more than a third of Africans practice open defecation. The effects of open defecation are serious; with urgent concerns of ground water resource pollution, contamination of agricultural produce. Consequently open defecation is a major contributing factor to a multiplicity of water and sanitation related diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.

Not only is open defecation (and lack of improved sanitation facilities) detrimental to human health but also to economic and social development, e.g., the productive activities of impoverished populations, such as schooling, are severely restricted by ill health from contaminated water. Goals such as the Millennium Development Goals which aim at halving the percentage of the population that did not have improved sanitation in 1990 by 2015 seems to be unlikely at the current state.

Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation. At the heart of CLTS lies communities’ own appraisal, analysis of open defecation, internalization of need for behaviour change and their own action to become open defecation free.

Needs statement 

A solution to improve and accelerate community led total sanitation could be to design an application that provide information about open defecation. This would act as a voice of the community, allowing for them to ‘shout out’ let their voices be heard.

This would provide the community members that have internalized a need for behavior change and acknowledge the need for support (a turning point) with an open platform to express need for support triggering exercises. At the moment of ‘ignition’ members of the community can either send an sms with the name of the area (village) with excessively prevalent or observed open defecation, or make a call to a hot-line that captures the area’s GPS location to be mapped on an interactive map grid; thus allowing easier pin-pointing of open defecation areas and further on open defecation free areas.

The more sms/calls made from distinct mobile numbers creates a hot-spot that indicates an urgency for support. This would create a shift from subjective descriptions made on OD areas to a more objective layout of the situation for better decision and planning on specific locations for interventions (also for easier mobilization of teams to evaluate the situation). With accumulated number of sms/calls a community would demonstrate a consensus to raise the issue directly to the donor/supply (and responsible government agencies).

A hot-spot, depending on the number of sms/calls made should be distinguished by color (color of urgency), e.g., a minimum (agreed upon standard) could be represented by a yellow spot, and an increase of sms/calls made would shift the hot-spot color to orange and then red, confirming urgency.

This application should also be used by persons travelling across the country that happen to observe or witness open defecation, as well as, an alternative perspective (option) that can allow a person to still send the sms/call when they chance on a sanitation facility in such poor condition that would make them prefer to OD than to use it.

If an area that indicates an urgency/emergency is left unaddressed, the system should allow a time mechanism that would mark the hot-spot with the delay in the intervention, or triggering exercise

Promotional campaigns to inform people of this platform can be done through radio, and visual material such as posters (most preferably placed in local kiosks).

Monitoring of the area after it has been declared “Open Defecation Free” can be done through communicating with the persons who initially raised the alarm, who would be the best person to ask and receive feedback of the current real-time on ground situation.

Impact statement 

The user of this tool would be the government of Tanzania, specifically the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the Prime Minister’s Office for Local Government (PMO RALG) for use within the National Sanitation Campaign and beyond.  There is backing for this tool from development partners such as the World Bank, WSP, UNICEF, WaterAid, and Care

In addition to possible Hackathon prizes, there could be further incubation, testing and rollout support for high-potential solutions as part of the implementation of Tanzania’s National Sanitation Campaign.


Anyitike Mwakitalima, Head of the of the Division of Water, Food and Sanitation in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare,

Wataru Teramae



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