Rural Sanitation

The Central Rural Sanitation Programme, which was started in 1986, was one of India’s first efforts to provide safe sanitation in rural areas. This programme focussed mainly on providing subsidies to people to construct sanitation facilities. However, a study done by the government in 1996-97 showed that it was more important to raise awareness about sanitation as a whole rather than to just provide subsidies for construction. This understanding marked the first shift in the programme. In 1999, a restructured Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was initiated to create supply-led sanitation by promoting local sanitary marts and a range of technological options.

The rural sanitation campaign has the following as its objectives:

  • Accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas.
  • Generate a push from the people to get facilities rather than expect the Government to do it (demand-led promotion).
  • Focus on intensive education and awareness campaigns to ensure that people understand the need for safe sanitation.
  • Take the scheme beyond rural households to rural schools and nursery schools. Here again, the emphasis was placed on promoting good hygiene practices.
  • Promote cost-effective and appropriate technologies.
  • Through all the above, improve the health and quality of life in rural areas.

The last modification of the scheme happened in 2012. It was restructured and renamed as the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. With an intent to transform India to "Nirmal Bharat", the scheme's revised target for reaching total sanitation was changed from 2012 to 2022. 

Understanding rural sanitation dataState of rural sanitation in India - Progress and performance - Data visualisation tool by Arghyam

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation publishes data related to the rural sanitation scheme on its website. The State of Sanitation Project is an effort to create simple tools that will demystify large datasets and also compare it to other relevant datasets.

View the State of sanitation in India - Data visualisation tool.

From outlays to outcomes: understanding the status of rural sanitation data

The census 2011 data on rural sanitation coverage was a reality check to the existing understanding that the government’s efforts at rural sanitation were moving rapidly towards achieving universal coverage. 

Below are some key lessons that emerged:

  • A difference in the total number of rural households as counted by the census 2011 and the government scheme – while in 2001, the difference was 0.14 lakhs, in 2011, the difference had grown to 884.03 lakhs.
  • A huge difference in the number of rural households with toilets. According to census 2011 data, only 30.7% of rural households had access to toilets in 2011. According to rural sanitation scheme data the number was considerably larger at 79.9%.

Some of these differences can be accounted for by the fact that the sanitation scheme achievement number was calculated on household numbers that were lesser than the 2011 household number. When corrected for this, the total achievement fell to 65.7 percent, which was still significantly higher than the number reported by the census 2011.

Based on these calculations India will have to spend anywhere between 9 – 19 times of its expenditure up to 2011 (Rs. 6140 crore) in order to achieve universal coverage of household toilets – which is just one component of the government scheme.

Download and read the entire study: From outlays to outcomes - The state of rural sanitation data in India - A report by Accountability Initiative and Arghyam (2013).

Download rural sanitation fact sheets for all states of India.

Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research carried out the research for the State of Sanitation Project. Arghyam supported the effort.

About the State of Sanitation Project

The goal of the State of Sanitation project is to understand the success of the government’s rural sanitation scheme from the lenses of coverage, equity, accountability, efficiency and health.State of Sanitation

Open defecation in rural India remains a problem that perplexes policy makers and civil society alike. India has the largest number of people who practice open defecation (626 million) and the most number of child deaths due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions compared to the rest of the world.

While access to toilets is by itself an important aspect that needs to be understood, it is not enough to reach the goal of total sanitation. Indeed, India’s rural sanitation scheme which was devised in 1986 and restructured in 2012 as the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) acknowledges this. Its goal is not only universal toilet coverage by 2022, but also improving health and providing privacy and dignity to women, with the overall goal of improving the quality of life of people living in rural areas.

Aims of the State of Sanitation project: Multiple agencies have assessed the status of the rural sanitation programme and have quantified its benefits over time. However, there have been few attempts to provide an online, concurrent monitoring mechanism to track the status of both the implementation of the scheme and the larger benefits from the scheme.

To this end, the project will:The State of Sanitation Project is supported and run by Arghyam

  • Design monitoring tools – this will include:
      • Online tools that help demystify government data and provide overlays between multiple data sets relevant to sanitation. These tools will be opened up to civil society and provide context to the large data sets.
      • Participatory assessment tools that will attempt to qualify how the scheme is working and issues in implementation, usage and achievement of the rural sanitation scheme’s goals.
  • Identify best practices and gaps in implementation – this will include:
      • Ground verification of best practices and issues.
      • Focussed efforts to document good practices and problems.

For more queries or feedback, please contact us.

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Many gaps in the various WASH programmes need to be fixed to ensure the ultimate goal of sustainable access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The current set of government programmes such as Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) have gone a long way in improving access to water and sanitation services in India.

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A hard-hitting documentary film ‘Kakkoos’ looks at the politics behind the banned practice of manual scavenging and how the civil society connives to keep it alive.

Kakkoos, a compelling documentary film on manual scavenging in Tamil Nadu is all about showing the practice as it is without any filter. The pictures are shocking and watching them is easier said than done -- toilets teeming with shit, sanitary napkins lying scattered, people collecting faeces with their uncovered hands, cleaning hazardous medical waste, handling maggot-ridden corpses and much more.

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Despite having many water sources nearby, Chavadiyur hamlet in the Attappadi region is facing a drought-like situation, thanks to institutional failure.

In a tribal settlement called Chavadiyur in the Attappadi region in Kerala, the summer has begun. It is already facing severe water shortage. The scarcity of water in the region has been exacerbated by the significant decrease in rainfall during both the southwest and the northeast monsoons. The Chavadiyur settlement in Sholayur panchayat in the Attappadi region lacks even sufficient drinking water. 

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Toilet remains a luxury for most women in the developing world.

“Ikde Aa. Mi Tula Dakhavato.”

“Come here. I will show you” ‘Ajji’ (grandma) grabbed my hand firmly as she led me towards her humble dwelling. Her house was in shambles and a ghost of a toilet superstructure adjoined it.

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Regions

The land of gems will have a new government soon. We look at what leading political parties have to say about issues related to natural resources.

The key issue in the Manipur Assembly election is the ongoing economic blockade in the state, which, in turn, is attributed to the present government’s decision to bifurcate districts.

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Regions

Budget 2017-18: Which social sector schemes and ministries got major shares of the pie? An analysis.

The much-anticipated budget this year treads largely on the path set last year with the rural sector receiving more allocation than its urban counterpart. On the surface, the budget indicates an increase in rural spending under the rural employment guarantee, sanitation, water resources and agriculture sectors and an unchanged outlay in drinking water despite its significance.

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Sangrun village near Pune sets an example to all upstream villages by keeping its rivers pollution free.

Located about 27 km from the city of Pune, Sangrun in Haveli taluka is a unique village. Situated in the rocky terrains of the Sahaydri hills, the village is at the confluence of three rivers--Mose, Ambi and Mutha--often referred to by the villagers as the Triveni Sangam or a place where three rivers unite.

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Regions

The water and sanitation sector in India is in urgent need for funds to show results. The budget 2017-2018 should look into it.

According to a report by WaterAid, a water and sanitation nonprofit, released in 2016, India has the highest number (75.8 million) of people in the world without access to safe water. The report titled Water: At what cost?

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Policies that address the WASH need to acknowledge the presence of a glass curtain that curtails access to its appropriate gender and age-related services.

As night falls, women in Chempakaraman beach on the Pulluvila coastal belt in Thiruvananthapuram step out of their safe abode and leave for the open fields. The barking of stray dogs send a chill down their spine but still, these women brave the odds and venture into the darkness as it is an urgency. Yes, they are out to answer the call of nature and they know very well the dangers that lurk in the darkness.

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A study finds increased risk of sexual violence among women who defecate in the open due to lack of proper sanitation facilities.

While nearly half of the world’s population (42 percent) lacks access to improved sanitation conditions, India is the worst performer in sanitation coverage, even below those countries with half of the households (53 percent) not having access to toilets. At 49.8 percent, India has the highest number of people practising open defecation in the world.

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