The Central government has recently rolled out Swachh Bharat Mission 2 after an unprecedented success of the first phase. After achieving the goal of 100% open defecation free (ODF) rural India the second phase aims at making Indian cities garbage free.
After the unveiling of the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014, India witnessed a revived focus on hygiene and cleanliness. The programme aggressively focused on extensive sanitation coverage in rural areas by offering funds for building toilets. In the first phase of Swachh Bharat Mission over 11 crore toilets were built in rural India in five years from 2014-2019. Around Six lakh villages across 699 districts of the country have now become open defecation free.
Today when the country has been declared free from open defecation, challenges like non-functioning toilets, inadequate drainage and sewerage systems, shortage of water and inefficient management of faecal sludge continue to remain as major concerns regarding toilet usage across India.
Despite the significant achievement of 100% ODF status under the Swachh Bharat Mission, a few surveys suggest to the contrary. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5, 2019-20) data shows that only 57% of rural households in the country have access to toilets and only five states had 100% toilet access in rural areas.
A survey titled “Drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions in India” conducted by the National Statistical Office in November 2019 revealed that 28.7% of rural households had no access to toilets and about 3.5% of households continued to practice open defecation despite having a toilet at home.
A village, ward, panchayat, urban local body or a district gets the ODF status when its inhabitants are considered to have access to a toilet and use the toilet consistently, abandoning the practice of open defecation.
One of the major challenges among the failures to maintain ODF status is the lack of water supply for toilets and poor maintenance. According to the water resources ministry, every household requires a total of 40 litres of water every day. For sanitation purposes, about 15 to 20 litres of water is needed daily. However, in most parts of the country availability of water even for basic needs is a major concern.
While the first phase of Swachh Bharat Mission has been a huge success in creating a widespread infrastructure for access to safe sanitation, toilet usage is another big problem. Availability of toilets does not ensure usage. Due to social and cultural biases, gender norms and reluctance to quit old habits of open defecation among others people often abandon toilets.
The second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission rightly focuses on ODF sustainability along with solid and liquid waste management. Along with this an intensive awareness, education and communication campaign should also be designed and implemented for persuading people to use toilets.
Mission Paani, an initiative by News 18 and Harpic India, aims to accomplish the objective of safe sanitation and hygiene along with access to clean water for every Indian. The campaign has been playing a remarkable role in creating awareness towards water conservation, safe sanitation and hygiene. The campaign aims to amplify the efforts towards access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
You can be part of this campaign too and join the Mission Paani initiative.