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Sanitation coverage in India UPSC NOTE

 Progress and challenges related to sanitation coverage in India over the past decade.

  • According to information by the Government of India, sanitation coverage in the country improved from 39% in 2014 to 100% in 2019.

  • Encouraged by the achievements under the SBM, the government launched Phase II of the SBM-G. 

  • The focus here was on the sustainability of initial achievements by promoting solid and liquid waste management and covering those households left out earlier. 

  • The government aims to transform India from ODF to ODF Plus by 2024-25

  • Around 85% of villages in India have become ODF Plus, according to government data.

  • This impressive performance also needs to be viewed from the perspective of behavioural change, which will usher in sustainability in a true sense.

  • The construction of toilets does not automatically lead to their use

  • A National Sample Survey Office survey (69th round), showed that in 2012, when 59% of rural households had no access to a toilet, 4% of individuals who had access reported not using the facility. 

  • The primary reasons for not using one were: 

  1. Not having any superstructure (21%).

  2. The facility malfunctioning (22%); 

  3. The facility being unhygienic/unclean (20%), 

  4. Personal reasons (23%).

  • A survey conducted by us in 2018, covering the best and worst covered districts and blocks of three States, showed that 59% of households in Bihar, 66% in Gujarat and 76% in Telangana had toilet access. 

  • Among those having access, 38% of households in Bihar, 50% in Gujarat and 14% in Telangana had at least one member who did not use it. 

  • A higher non-use of toilets in Gujarat was due to a lack of access to water in Dahod district, one of the two districts selected from the State.

  • In another study by us in 2020, we observed that 27% of households in survey villages in Gujarat and 61% in West Bengal did not have their own toilets. 

  • Moreover, around 3% of households did not use their own toilets in either State

  • One-fourth of non-user households in Gujarat did not cite any specific reason for not using it.

  • Social norms of purity may have dissuaded them from using the toilet

  • In Gujarat, 17% of those not using toilets reported that the sub-structure had collapsed, and 50% reported that the pits were full. 

  • One-third of non-users in West Bengal reported that the superstructure had collapsed, and another one third reported the pit being full.

  • Toilets not used for defecation are used as storerooms

  • If social norms prevent toilet use on the premises, the facility is used for bathing and washing clothes.

  • The variations across surveys of the percentage of households having access to toilets and their use are due to the selection of different districts. 

  • The more comprehensive National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS)- Round-3 (2019-20), conducted by the Ministry, shows that 95% of the rural population had toilet access in India.

  • Access to owned, shared, and public toilets was available to 79%, 14% and 1% of households, respectively. 

  • It was also reported that 96% of toilets were functional, and almost all had access to water.

  • However, the same report suggests that only 85% of the rural population used safe, functional, and hygienic toilets. 

Government Initiatives

  • In the past decade, improving sanitation coverage has been one of the key public policy miracles in India. 

  • Access to water and sanitation is Goal 6 in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals envisaged by the United Nations. 

  • Public sanitation programmes have a long history in the country, beginning with the launch of the highly subsidised Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) in 1986

  • The Total Sanitation Campaign in 1999 marked a shift from a high subsidy regime to a low subsidy one and a demand-driven approach. 

  • The public sanitation programme evolved as a mission in 2014 under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G) to make India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2019.

Achievements and Challenges

  • Our econometric models show that along with economic conditions and education, toilet use depends on household size. 

  • The higher the household size, the greater the chances of not using the toilet

  • Overcrowding and social norms prevent all household members from using the same toilet.

  • Our survey of 2020 shows that only 3%-4% of households have more than one toilet

  • Further, the chances of using a toilet are reduced if access to water is difficult

  • Toilet use is found to be very high in remote and backward villages if households have doorstep access to water. 

  • The chances of toilet use are also reduced if a household has a detached bathroom.

  • Phase II of the programme does not have any criteria mandating multiple toilets for households larger than a certain size. 

  • Neither does it have any provision for building an attached bathroom

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission programme was launched to provide tap water to each household by 2024

  • No relation has been observed between per capita central expenses made on the JJM and the percentage of villages declared ODF Plus across States. 

  • Neither is there any relation between the percentage of ODF Plus villages in a State and households having tap connections.

  • Social norms that act through social networks play a significant role in toilet construction and use.

  • Examining the networks through which others influence people for their sanitation behavior.

  • We observed that the size and characteristics of these networks can be different in various parts of the country. 

  • In one of the upper caste-dominated villages, lower castes were found to have high brokerage (ability to connect others) to make social norms acceptable and enforceable. 

  • Many networks pass through high brokerage nodes, making associated individuals highly connected. 

  • Hence, sanitation decisions are less likely to be taken independently. 

  • On the contrary, sanitation networks in upper caste villages are more cohesive, smaller and diverse.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Sanitation coverage in India UPSC NOTE
Sanitation coverage in India UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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