Six Charts Show That India Is Not Yet Open Defecation Free

According to government data, several households in villages that had been declared ODF did not have access to toilets.

New Delhi: Even though all of the nearly six lakh villages in India have declared themselves ‘open defecation free (ODF)’, first-level verification has not been carried out in about 10% these villages. Several states have verified, according to the database, 100% of their villages. But some states such as Bihar and Odisha remain laggards.

It is important to bear in mind that in several cases, as The Wire has reported earlier, the process of verification mentioned in the Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines is not followed.

According to the SBM guidelines, second-level of verification should be carried out within six months of first-level verification. This is key to ensure that villages do not fall out of ODF status. But only 24% of villages in India have undergone second-level verification. There are 10 states where not a single village has performed the second-level of verification.

Also read: Government Data Proves We Shouldn’t Believe India Is ‘Open Defecation Free’

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation conducts the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NAARS). According to the latest NAARS, which was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019, several households in villages that had been declared ODF did not have access to toilets.

The NAARS 2018-19 also found that several households continued to have unhygienic toilets in villages that had been declared ODF.

The survey also found almost 24% of households in the surveyed villages – which had been declared ODF ­­– did not use safe methods to dispose of child faeces. That is, they were neither burying it nor putting it in a toilet.

The survey found visible faeces in areas that had been used for open defecation in the ‘past’ in 7% of the ODF villages it surveyed.

#Grit is an initiative of The Wire dedicated to the coverage of manual scavenging and sanitation and their linkages with caste, gender, policy and apathy.