On September 11 this year a team from Feedback Foundation, a Yatra partner, came to the village and began to work with the villagers to change behavior. Their tools were basic social emotions: disgust, shame and pride. First the villagers were asked to draw a map of the village and to point out where each householder went to defecate. The amount of excrement lying around was totted up—it always adds up to metric tons. And then the realization came: flies fly from this excrement to food, and everyone was eating poop. As long as one family continued to defecate outside, everyone could be contaminated. That is the disgust and the shame. Those are the triggers. They entice behavior modification just as children are enticed through the doors of the Yatra by glow germs and poo minefields. Immediately, although villagers had defecated outside since time began, toilets began to be built. They cost anything from nothing to very little. Some were just dry pits with a simple grass superstructure, but they are a beginning.
The sarpanch—village leader—leads me round the village with great pride. He introduces the village monitoring team, young lads who get up daily at 3:30 A.M. to patrol the streets for open defecators and try to persuade them verbally: "It's easy to build a toilet, so why don't you? You are spending more on medical bills than a toilet would cost." In other villages children do this patrolling, banging pans when they find a defecating sinner, or giving them shame garlands of leaves. The methods differ but the truth they are based on does not: Open defecation becomes a community sin.
Three months on 95 percent of households have toilets, and they are clean and fly-free. At the end of the visit the sarpanch addresses a group of schoolchildren. He says, "Look at these visitors from abroad who have come to see us because of what we have stopped doing. What have we stopped doing?"
The children chorus: "Eating poop!"
They have also stopped dying from it. Six months ago—before the latest visitors came—the villagers Kalawti Devi and Sadina Khatan died of cholera. The sarpanch writes down "10 small sons" when I ask him for the names of villagers who have died from diarrhea. Ten other small sons will no longer die of filth. On World Toilet Day, that is something to celebrate.