'I truly love toilets' – Jane Healy visits WaterAid’s work in India

2 min read
Image: WaterAid/Eliza Powell

As Sanitation Manager at Glastonbury festival, Jane Healy knows how vital a decent toilet is – but millions of people in India are still living without access to one.

I’m no stranger to thinking about toilets on a truly huge scale, but even the 5,000 loos I look after at the world’s largest greenfield festival seem small compared to the numbers needed at the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in India.

A mass pilgrimage of faith, the event is held every 12 years. In 2016, it attracted more than 50 million people to Uijain in Madhya Pradesh.

When I visited the site, I saw it was impossible to provide enough toilets for the amount of people that will attend this event.

They’re trying – they have over 30,000 toilets which is an amazing amount – but for the number of people it’s always going to be a struggle to have enough.

'This is every day. There is no let up.'

It’s not just visitors to the festival that struggle with a lack of access to a toilet.

On the outskirts of Uijain, Babita and her family are forced to relieve themselves in an open wasteland, overlooked by a busy road, because they don’t have access to a safe, private toilet.

Babita often waits until it gets dark so people won’t see her, putting her safety at risk.

We provide plenty of toilets at Glastonbury, but for five days people are exposed to that feeling of vulnerability because they don’t have one in their own tent.

Jane (centre) stands with Babita (far right) and members of Babita's family outside their home in Uijain, India.
Jane (centre) stands with Babita (far right) and members of Babita's family outside their home in Uijain, India.
Image: WaterAid/Eliza Powell

Babita doesn’t have the luxury of going home after five days and having her own toilet. This is every day, there’s no let up.

Sadly, Babita isn't alone. 774 million people don’t have access to a toilet in India – more than the entire population of Europe.

Meanwhile 44% of the population still defecate in the open, making diseases spread fast. More than 140,000 children under five die each year from diarrhoea.

Join The Water Fight

At this year’s Glastonbury, WaterAid’s sanitation superheroes, the Loo Crew, will be back – doing an amazing job keeping the long drops spick and span, so you always have somewhere nice and fresh to go to the loo.

But our volunteers won’t just be helping to keep the festival's toilets clean. They’ll also be asking visitors to Worthy Farm to join The Water Fight – the global movement to reach children everywhere with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

Sign the petition >