as you read this sentence

       million Indians 

lack access to basic sanitation facilities like toilets and latrines

This means that 210 million Indians, a majority of whom live in rural towns and villages, struggle every single day simply to relieve themselves in a private and dignified manner.



world’s largest number


of open defecators leading to polluted drinking water sources, leached groundwater and contaminated water bodies

India is home to the


India loses


each year to diarrhoea, sepsis, malnutrition and stunting, all of which are directly linked to the lack of safe sanitation.



as you read this sentence

1 in 4 toilets

 in rural India’s schools are either broken or dysfunctional, contributing significantly to the illiteracy and harassment of women and girls at puberty.


But this doesn’t have to be India’s story of shame. 

Access to good sanitation can gift India’s rural communities:

Health: Safe sanitation reduces the spread of fatal diseases and cuts down the impact of malnutrition..

Education: Safe sanitation and sanitary facilities significantly boost school attendance, especially among girls.

Dignity: Safe sanitation promotes the dignity and safety of women and children who no longer need to relieve themselves in the open, vulnerable to assault.

Progress: Every dollar invested in sanitation saves $6-$8 in healthcare costs leading to much higher individual productivity and earning potential.

Living Water is writing a new story of progress for India’s rural communities by:

Image by Ron Hansen

1.  Identifying communities in need, surveying and studying their personalised requirements..


3. Driving behavioural change by training communities in using and maintaining latrines 

2. Equipping villages to build their own latrines.

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4. Creating awareness about safe hygiene practices through the ‘School-Led Total Sanitation’ program that focuses on handwashing, maintenance of water sources and disease prevention.


5. Conducting medical awareness and screening camps for students and their communities in rural schools alongside local partners.


From 1998, we have

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Built 275 community latrines

impacting over 2600 lives.



Conducted 2400 community sanitation & hygiene training programs reaching over 1,20,0000 rural Indians.


Organised 106 hygiene awareness programs in schools reaching over 10500 rural students.


Directed 10 medical camps in schools benefitting over 2000 rural students and their families.


“Our children are affected by the water they drink. We visit hospitals with them so frequently and we end up spending our earnings on their treatment.” - Tulabati, 35

Tulabati Beniya is a 35-year-old agricultural labourer in Pondas, a village in rural Odisha that has practiced open defecation for generations. The village homes are made of mud, straws and bamboo, and the community makes their living off the forests they are surrounded by, selling gathered firewood and charcoal to the towns nearby. Toilets were unheard of in the village until the last few years.

From 2014, India’s sanitation situation has been swept by the storm of the Government’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyan that aims to make the nation Open Defecation Free by offering Rs.12000 to every home that builds a toilet. For Tulabati’s community though, that means little because only about a third of them are literate and aware of modern sanitation facilities. Most of the village choose to relieve themselves near their homes.

As a result of open defecation, the community’s children suffer from a host of diseases. 90 percent of children under 10 are underweight, and most are infected with parasites and worms. The girls suffer from iron deficiency and every year, the community’s children lose their lives to water-borne diseases like dysentery and typhoid. Tulabati has story after story to tell of how their village has been ravaged by the consequences of poor water and sanitation.

In early 2019, Living Water visited the community to assess their understanding of sanitation and hygiene. We then went home to home inviting families to a Hygiene and Sanitation awareness program that focused on awareness about family health, information on how to  protect themselves from water-borne diseases and creating behavioural change in the community. Over 100 community members attended the program the next day, conducted by trained health workers. The community women were especially happy to learn of life-changing techniques that could save their children’s lives. 

Over the next few days, we helped numerous households built TippyTaps for their families - simple devices that aid handwashing. Seeing these, other families began building their own. Over the next few months,  five families chose to build toilets near their homes, and the community has even set up a committee to monitor the health problems they face. Living Water continues to uplift and empower this community even today so that women like Tulabati can watch their children grow healthy and thrive


The Future

By 2024, India’s Jal Jeevan Mission aims to equip every rural household with potable water and by 2030, the United Nations aims to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all the world. 


At Living Water, we stand in solidarity with these national and international organisations and join forces with them to achieve these goals, starting with the communities we serve