‘11.5 % toilet coverage in rural Odisha’

Despite implementation of Total Sanitation Programme to eradicate the practice of open defecation in Odisha for more than a decade, the coverage of individual household with toilets has been found to be abysmally low in the State’s rural areas.

According to latest baseline survey furnished by Rural Development department in the State Assembly here on Tuesday, Odisha has over 90.20 lakh (90,20,100) rural households and only 10.38 lakh (10,38,127) households have toilet facilities. It constitutes meagre 11.50 per cent of toilet coverage.

Southern Odisha district of Koraput has total 3,948 out of over 2.79 lakh (2,79,709) households in villages have toilets comprising 1.41 per cent coverage – the lowest in the State.

Keonjhar, perhaps the richest district of the country as far as mineral wealth is concerned, has only 1.48 per cent of total households having latrines. The district has 3.77 lakh (3,77,325) households enumerated in the survey. However, only 5,599 households have toilets in rural pockets. It is not known as to how many households use toilets.

Malkanagiri, the district where development is said to have been given a priority as part of holistic approach to deal with Naxalism, has only 2,833 out of 1.34 lakh (1,34,412) households in villages covered with latrines showing 2.10 per cent coverage.

Other districts where toilet coverage has not touched 10,000-mark in rural areas include Deogarh (1,878), Boudh (6,083), Kandhamal (7,919), Nabarangpur (7,486) and Subarnapur (6,004).

The baseline survey reveals Odisha has a whopping 79.81 lakh (79,81,973) households without toilets. “When the target was to cover all households with latrines under Total Sanitation Campaign by 2017, it is impossible to cover remaining 88.5 per cent households in rural areas in next two years,” said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiative of Odisha, who works on sanitation issues.

Mr. Panda said: “Apart from covering households with toilets, the next big challenge before the State government is to enable and convince people to use toilets. In absence of water availability near toilets in most villages, the objective of ending the practice of open defecation appears very difficult to be achieved.”