UN launches Mother London’s campaign to end Open Defecation

The United Nations Deputy Secretary General has launched a new global campaign to end Open Defecation.

The campaign, created by UK creative agency Mother London, aims to improve sanitation for 2.5 billion people, addressing the world’s most critical impediment to health and well-being.

On a global level, whether people are aware of the issue or not, Open Defecation is shrouded in silence.

Mother London’s campaign is about breaking that silence, allowing people to learn about the issue and discuss the subject openly.

At least 2.5 Billion people in the world – one third of humanity – still lack improved sanitation facilities. One billion people continue to practice Open Defecation – a behaviour acknowledged as a key indicator of poverty and a major factor in the spread of disease.

The campaign’s call to action is not to give money, but to give time.

Opendefecation.org draws attention to silence as a personal act of reflection and asks people to donate time to show their support for change, or use silence as an act of protest. The donated time is designed to honour all those, especially children, who die silently, without the world’s attention, because of the diseases that result from Open Defecation.

Mother London has created a toolkit for use by governments, NGOs and local campaigning groups. The kit enables campaigners to execute simple ideas that address the main issues around Open Defecation – personal hygiene, private sanitation for women, the adoption of modern toilets.

The campaign will create greater awareness on sanitation as a health issue and as a human right, stressing the gravity of the problem, but also recognizing the significant progress being made in many countries. The campaign will run globally in English but is adaptable to specific local needs (languages, etc.) to enable as many local partners as possible to support the call to action.

Opendefecation.org is a unique campaign tool because a users’ time spent on the site directly translates into an act of solidarity with the UN campaign. Addressing the key issues of ignorance and the taboo of speaking about the topic, a simple clock accrues the time spent by each viewer and turns that into a cumulative number with which the UN can lobby governments around the world. The aim is to reach 1 million hours of increased awareness.

Supporters can also show they back the campaign by adopting the two-stripe symbol: a simple, powerful graphic worn as a bold stamp on the back of the hand.

“The UN were looking for an agency with global capacity, an understanding of public service campaigns and a breakthrough idea,” said Mother Global Creative Partner Carlos Bayala. “From the outset we knew the concept had to be simple and adaptable to enable the greatest local impact. As we roll out the campaign in partnership with the WSSCC and UNMC, we hope we can help facilitate the rapid progress required by the Millennium Development Goals.”