Data

Is rural India 100% open defecation-free like Swachh Bharat data concludes?

A significant share of rural households in States and UTs, which were declared 100% ODF by SBM in March 2018, lacked access to any type of latrines according to NSO data released six month later. File

A significant share of rural households in States and UTs, which were declared 100% ODF by SBM in March 2018, lacked access to any type of latrines according to NSO data released six month later. File   | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

While data released by the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) showed that all the villages in many States were open defecation-free, data from a recent survey by the National Statistical Office debunk this claim

On October 2, 2019, all the villages in the 36 States and Union Territories of India were declared open defecation-free (ODF). The India map in the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) website, which was keeping track of the progress, turned green in entirety indicating the achievement of the policy’s objective.

However, a survey released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in November 2019, titled “Drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions in India”, claimed that about 28.7% of rural households across India still lacked access to any form of latrines. Moreover, 3.5% of those who have access to latrines, don't use it.

Here's how the Swachh Bharat data and the NSO data contradict each other.

Data discrepancy

In order to keep the time-frames similar, two comparisons were made. Firstly, the NSO survey data (October, 2018) was compared with SBM data released on March 2018 (six months earlier). The graph below plots these two parameters.

image/svg+xml % villages ODF as of March 2018 (SBM) 100 90 80 70 60 50 0 20 40 60 80 100 % rural houses with latrine access as of Oct. ‘18 (NSO) Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Gujarat M.P. Chhattisgarh Haryana Tripura Odisha U.P. Bihar Mahrashtra 0102030405060708090100 ODF Status (%) 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 Households with access to latrine
 

A significant share of rural households in States and UTs which were declared 100% ODF by SBM in March 2018, lacked access to any type of latrines according to NSO data released six month later.

For instance, villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were reported to be 100% ODF at the end of March 2018 by the SBM. But NSO data from October 2018 claimed that only 75.8% rural households in Gujarat, 78% in Maharashtra and 65.8% in Rajasthan had access to any type of latrine (such as exclusive latrine use of household; common latrine use of households in the building; public/community use of latrines without payment; public/community use of latrines with payment)

Variation persists

Secondly, when the October 2018 NSO data was compared with ODF data of SBM of the same month, still discrepancies existed.  The graph below plots these two parameters.

image/svg+xml % villages ODF as of Oct. 2018 (SBM) % rural houses with latrine access as of Oct. ‘18 (NSO) 0102030405060708090100 ODF villages 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 % of Households with latrine 100 90 80 70 60 0 20 40 60 80 100 Rajasthan Gujarat Maharashtra M.P. Haryana Tamil Nadu Chhattisgarh Odisha U.P. Bihar Goa
 

For instance, while villages in Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were declared 100% ODF by October 2018 by the SBM data, NSO data from the same month shows that this was not the case. According to the NSO data, only 62.8% rural households in Tamil Nadu and 71% in Madhya Pradesh had access to any form of latrines.

In fact, the data from the two government sources, whose reference period were the same (October 2018), differed greatly across at least 30 States and U.T.s.

Usage issues

Moreover, according to the NSO data, despite having access to latrines, 3.5% of the respondents in India’s rural regions did not use them. From Sikkim (0.5% - the lowest in the country), to Jharkhand (9.6% - highest in the country), every State and U.T. had a share of such population.

The graph below shows the State-wise split of the % share of people who did not use latrines despite having access to them.

image/svg+xml 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Persons who never used latrine despite having access to them (%) Jharkhand (9.6%) Rajasthan(5.1%) Odisha (9.5%) Gujarat (2.9%) All-India (3.5%) Sikkim(0.5%)
 

One of the key necessities for a State to be declared 100% ODF is 100% usage of latrines by entire population in all villages (click to view checklist)

Note: In the NSO data, there may be a bias in the reporting of access to latrines as the question on benefits received by the households from government schemes was asked prior to the question on household access to latrines.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:28:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-mismatch-is-rural-india-100-open-defecation-free-like-swachh-bharat-data-concludes/article30460909.ece

Next Story