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Data | Three government surveys debunk Swachh Bharat's 100% ODF claim

People walk to defecate in the open in the morning on the banks of the Ganga in Prayagraj on November 17, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

What is the share of the rural population in India that is not defecating in the open? The answer depends on which government survey is being referenced. On October 2, 2019, all the villages in the 36 States and U.T.s of India were declared open defecation-free (ODF), according to the data from The Swachh Bharat Mission: Gramin (SBM) portal. However, three government surveys/reports released since the declaration, including the latest NFHS-5, have not only disputed the ODF status of most States but also showed persisting levels of poor sanitation in many.

1. The NSO Survey

First, when the National Statistical Office (NSO) survey data from October 2018 were compared with the SBM data from the same month, there were discrepancies. For instance, in the SBM data, villages in M.P. and T.N. were declared 100% ODF by October 2018. However, according to NSO data, only 71% and 62.8% of rural households in M.P. and T.N., respectively, had access to some form of latrine (own, shared, public). Such discrepancies were found in many other States too.

NSO survey v SBM portal

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Also read: Discouraging numbers: On National Family Health Survey 2019-20

2. The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey

The second comparison is between the SBM data on individual household latrine (IHHL) coverage as of March 2019 and the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) data on rural households with access to their own toilets between Nov. 2019 and Feb. 2020. The SBM data claimed that in 24 States/U.T.s, over 99% of rural households had IHHL, whereas the NARSS data recorded six months later showed that in 24 States/U.T.s less than 90% of the rural households had access to their own toilets.

NARSS v SBM portal

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3. The National Family Health Survey

Discrepancies persist if the SBM data on IHHL % as of March 2019 are compared to the NFHS-5 data on the % of the population who lived in rural households that used their own toilets in 2019-20. For instance, according to SBM data, in Gujarat, 99.4% of rural households had individual latrines in March 2019. However, according to the NFHS data, in the second half of 2019, only 63.3% of the population living in rural households used individual toilets. So, if both data are accurate, about 36% of people in Gujarat have individual toilets but are not using it.

NFHS-5 v SBM portal

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Also read: Data | Progress on child nutrition derailed as wasting and stunting increases in several States

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 6:37:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-three-government-surveys-debunk-swachh-bharats-100-odf-claim/article33411977.ece

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