Curing Ignorance Through the Lens
Meet the “PoopGuy” bringing sanitation to the urban poor in India.
When Swapnil Chaturvedi returned home to India from the U.S. in 2007, he was appalled by the lack of dignity and sanitation afforded by the country’s dirty, under-ventilated toilets. According to Chaturvedi, 60 percent of Indians defecate in the open due to a lack of sanitary toilets or latrines. This realization prompted him to abandon his engineering job and dedicate himself to creating a sanitation movement that would allow women like his young daughter to comfortably use public toilets. “We can live without Facebook, we can live without our smartphones, but we cannot live without relieving ourselves,” he said.
In 2011, Chaturvedi, who is also known as “PoopGuy,” founded Samagra Sanitation with a grant from the Gates Foundation. He is the “Chief Toilet Cleaner” and President of the company, which aims to provide “awesome sanitation services to the urban poor” in Pune, India. His focus is not only on the technology of sanitation, but the psychology; his LooRewards program aims to educate locals and motivate them to change their hygiene habits by offering incentives for using the toilets. Samagra recently started an Indiegogo campaign which hopes to raise $50,000 to bring clean toilets to 50,000 people.
Photo by the Gates Foundation.