The World Bank has approved a US$1.5 billion loan for a state-led sanitation program in India, where millions of people have no access to toilets, the bank said today.

The Bank says the loan, to be disbursed over a five-year period, will be used to support government efforts to provide toilets in villages and end the practice of open defecation by 2019.

More than 500 million Indians, especially in rural areas, continue to defecate in the open, despite decades-long efforts to encourage people to change their habits.

“One in every 10 deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation,” said Onno Ruhl, the World Bank country director for India.

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