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August 2008

2.6 billion people around the world don’t have a WC or any other kind of decent toilet. Because ‘faecal perils’ land up on hands, feet and lips, two million of them – mostly children – die of diarrhoeal disease every year. The toll in indignity and distress, especially among women, is less measurable but arguably far worse. Out on the excretory frontier, toilet pioneers are strutting their stuff with goose-necks and waterseals, sanplats and the ecological approach. But they won’t get far unless people – rich and famous, poor and deprived – can be persuaded to confront the unmentionable and call a spade a spade. This issue of New Internationalist looks at who and what are carrying the sanitary flame in the 21st century.

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