Sanitation status: Centre flags likely respondent bias in NSO survey

A sanitation worker cleaning a drain behind the PWD quarters in Shivpuri. Special arrangement

A sanitation worker cleaning a drain behind the PWD quarters in Shivpuri. Special arrangement  


Ministry mum on The Hindu queries over degree of discrepancies .

Citing the National Statistical Office’s caveat on the possibility of respondent bias on the issue of access to toilets due to the order of questions asked in its latest survey on sanitation, the Centre has said it is “inappropriate to use the results of this report to draw conclusions on the sanitation status in India”.

Respondents were initially asked whether they had received benefits from the government schemes and may have given a negative reply in the hope of getting additional benefits, said a joint statement by the Jal Shakti Ministry which administers the flagship sanitation scheme, Swachh Bharat, along with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, which oversees the NSO. “This bias may have led to significant under reporting of sanitation coverage. Such biases are often observed in households when canvassing information on items and issues where government funded beneficiary schemes are under implementation,” said the statement issued on Monday.

The NSO report, based on a survey carried out between June and December 2018, shows that only 71% of rural households reported having access to toilets at a time when the Centre’s Swachh Bharat scheme was claiming 95% access.


The Hindu’s report on the survey, published on Monday, included the NSO’s caveat on possible respondent bias. The Jal Shakti Ministry failed to respond to queries from The Hindu on when the issue had been raised with the NSO, and whether the Ministry believes that the possibility of respondent bias accounts for the entire discrepancy between NSO data and Swachh Bharat claims.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 8:05:44 PM |

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