Nearly 25 million people in Indonesia don’t use toilets. They defecate instead in fields, bushes, forests, ditches, streets, canals or other open spaces. Open defecation is not only an affront to dignity, it also poses huge risks to child and community health.
Open defecation and untreated wastewater contaminate water supply and facilitate the spread of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera. A quarter of all children under 5 in Indonesia suffer from diarrhoea, which is the leading cause of child mortality in the country.
Water quality is poor regardless of socio-economic conditions. A 2017 survey of drinking water in Yogyakarta, a well-off urban centre in Java, found that 89 per cent of water sources and 67 per cent of household drinking water were contaminated by fecal bacteria. Moreover, only 7 per cent of wastewater in Indonesia is treated.