While the country has made great strides in improving sanitation in the last few years, many in India still practice open defecation. One Hindu spiritual leader, known as Amma, made a $15 million donation to the Indian government to help build toilets and provide sanitation education to the poor along the banks of the Ganges river. In Hindu spirituality, the Ganges is the holiest body of water on Earth – a source of healing and purification.
However, it has become so polluted with sewage and factory waste that the millions who bathe and drink from it are more at risk of disease than healing. It is hoped that with access to toilet facilities and education about the dangers of open defecation will help to protect both the river and the people.