UNICEF’s novel campaign invites you to learn the Poo Party song and find ways to take the poo to the loo, writes Subha J. Rao

A man is in the middle of a nightmare. Unpleasant noises and visuals upset him and wake him up. “First thing in the morning, what do I see…” thus begins a song that is meant to wake up a nation to tackle its biggest problem — open defecation.

The poo song was released by UNICEF a couple of months ago, and it went viral. The song was infectious… So was the recurring line — take the poo to the loo.

Another video recently hit the Net — the making of the poo song. It shows how the team created the catchy tune with accompanying background music — the sound of water being flushed, a series of farts, and more!

Spirited music

Indo-Jazz composer Shrikanth Sriram (Shri) of Life of Pi fame, instructs the team to visualise the flush concluding in a drum kit, and the five farts melding into the horn section. Laughs abound as the team creates whacky music. In a way, that exemplifies the spirit of the project — getting a dialogue going on a smelly issue.

According to UN statistics, more than 620 million people — half of India’s population, including 13 per cent of the urban populace — defecate in the open. Children are the worst affected — almost a quarter of all children under five who died of diarrhoea in 2012, were Indian.

The numbers are shocking, but what do we do about it? We hold our breath, cover our noses and ignore the eyesore everywhere. UNICEF wants us to do a little extra and spread awareness about the ill-effects of open defecation.

Attitude change

“Building a toilet is not enough; people must first want to use a toilet — they must want to stop open defecation,” says a UNICEF document. For that, there must be a change in behaviour. And, the Poo2Loo campaign is doing just that.

The Poo Party song celebrates noises we all pretend to ignore, and raises a pertinent question — “Are you taking the poo to the loo?” Says Shri in a press release: “Ah Shit! The smell that brings me home very quickly with a thud! I would rather have the smell of Pav Baji bring me home. Anyone trying to do anything about public defecation needs to be supported fully.”

Laced with humour

The best part about the song is that it does not preach; it states facts humorously. Says Maria Fernandez Ruiz de Larrinaga, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India: “We did not want the song and visuals to disgust, but rather initiate a dialogue on a very important issue.”

The first phase of the campaign is coming to an end. Next up is to take Mr. Poo and the campaign message (in translated versions) to schools in tier 2 and 3 cities, she adds.

The video shows a tomorrow where poo invades your space and follows you everywhere. So, what will you do? Take it lying down or show the poo its rightful space — The loo?

Vision document

The shared vision of UNICEF and World Health Organisation for water, sanitation and hygiene post-2015 includes a world where everyone has access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home and school, where any inequality in access is eliminated and there is no open defecation.

Hygiene first

Watch the song at http://youtu.be/_Pj4L7C2twI

Visit www.poo2loo.com and sign a pledge. Over 1,13,000 people have already done so. The final target is to get the signed pledge to the President of India and demand an open defecation-free India.