THE BAD NEWS
n English villages around the year 1400, sanitation consisted at best of a latrine trench or merely retreating “a bowshot from the house.” Many peasant houses had only one room, and materials were flimsy enough that “house breaking” by burglars was often undertaken literally—by breaking through the wall. Wells provided the usual water source, and wood or dung the main cooking fuels.1
In India in 1993, the poorest 40 percent of the population had an average income of around $733. Out of this population, 96 percent used dung, wood, or coal as their primary cooking fuel. Fewer than 5 percent had a pit latrine or toilet. They lived in houses with an average of just two rooms, overwhelmingly constructed ...