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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 16:18 GMT
In pictures: India's sanitation struggle

People washing in a Tamil Nadu river

A summit in Delhi has highlighted statistics compiled by WaterAid in India which show that just 15% of rural people have access to a toilet. (Photos:WaterAid)

Woman cleaning her teeth in the state of Orissa

Many people are still forced to go to the toilet on the side of a road or by water which will then be used for cooking, cleaning and washing.

Boy with a rat in communal washing area of Tamil Nadu

In India alone, more than 700 million people have no access to toilets with proper waste disposal systems.

A village in Madhya Pradesh

Because open defecation is widely practised in India, WaterAid along with government agencies and other NGOs are embarking on a comprehensive latrine building programme.

Gwalior village, Madhya Pradesh

But to do this, difficult cultural barriers have to be overcome. Illiterate rural people need to be educated as to why they need to use latrines, and the importance of hygiene.

Child friendly latrine in Orissa

Progress has been made. WaterAid and other NGOs have developed methods to ensure more and more rural people are gaining access to safe, sustainable and affordable latrines.

Girls cleaning a latrine in the state of Uttar Pradesh

Sanitation committees comprising local people have been formed across the country to ensure that once the latrines have been constructed, they remain clean and hygienic.

Fulbati from Sasaipura Village in the Sheopur district of Uttar Pradesh

"No one was hygienic or clean before," says Fulbati. "We were all living in unclean conditions. Malaria, diarrhoea, fever, vomiting; they were common. Now it's not so bad."

Suresh and his son Sonu outside a new latrine

"I can now go to the toilet on my own," says eight-year-old Sonu. "Before when I needed to go in the night I had to wake my father up to come with me as I was scared."

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