Broken Toilets is an online magazine about global development and culture. Our mission is to bring more thoughtful perspectives to issues in social and environmental justice, equality, political change, human rights and openness. We do this by featuring independently reported stories and views by narrative journalists, citizen journalists, researchers and practitioners, that explore the processes behind development and aid, the implications of this work for those affected by it the most, and ideas of progress along with the compromises they demand. We publish thematic issues focused on a critical topic and a running blog that examines broader questions in the field. We hope these stories strike a chord with our colleagues who work in, study, and fund projects in developing communities around the world. We also aim to make Broken Toilets a destination that broader audiences look to in order to become more informed, engaged, and empowered global citizens.

Broken Toilets magazine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Co-Founding Editors


Emily Madsen
Emily Madsen is a researcher and consultant based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her work spans a wide spectrum of global health issues, including women’s health, gender-based violence, HIV, and water and sanitation in India, but is always rooted in the promotion of equality, access, and education. She began her career managing child psychology research studies at the National Institutes of Health and New York University. Emily received her BA with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Masters in Public Health from UNC-Greensboro, where she studied refugee mental health and documentary film production.


Samyuktha Varma

Samyuktha Varma is a writer and researcher based in Bangalore, India. Her work in global development has primarily been in South Asia and included projects in social protection, natural resource management and agriculture, and waste and its reuse. Samyuktha has a deep-rooted interest in how challenging topics are communicated to broader audiences. She co-authored Out of Water – From Abundance to Scarcity and How to Solve the World’s Water Problems, published by the Financial Times Press in 2010. She has a Masters in Gender and Social Policy from the London School of Economics.

Shuttleworth Funded