In India, a Toilet Shortage Drains the Economy

A boy walks to a latrine outside at a slum in Mumbai on Oct. 22, 2010 Photograph by Rafiq Maqbool/AP Images

As Zimbabwe’s Peter Morgan received the Stockholm Water Prize last week for inventing a revolutionary low-cost toilet, women in Mumbai faced another day of battling their urge to pee. They have little choice: In a city with 20 million people and notorious traffic jams, there’s practically nowhere to go. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corp. allocates about a third of its 10,381 public toilet seats for women, but those facilities typically charge women for entry while men can use urinals for free. Now the local government has pledged to spend about $100,000 to build the first of 25 women-only facilities, thanks to a Right to Pee campaign launched two years ago by a network of nonprofit groups.

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