ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revisiting Open Defecation

Since October 2014, the Government of India has worked towards the goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019 through the Swachh Bharat Mission. In June 2014, the results of a survey of rural sanitation behaviour in North India were first reported. The results from a late 2018 survey that revisited households from the 2014 survey in four states—Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh—are presented. Although rural latrine ownership increased considerably over this period, open defecation remains very common in these four states. There is substantial heterogeneity across states in what the sbm did and how. These outcomes suggest the need for a transparent, fact-based public dialogue about the sbm, its costs and benefits, and its accomplishments and means.

The Real Status of Rural Sanitation

A response to the article “Open Defecation in Rural India, 2015–16: Levels and Trends in NFHS–4” (EPW, 3 March 2018) points out that the NFHS–4 data on open defecation in rural India is neither the “best” nor is it “new.” Rural India is well on its way to becoming open defecation free before the proposed deadline of 2 October 2019.

Open Defecation in Rural India, 2015–16

The Government of India’s NFHS–4 offers the best new data on open defecation in rural India to be eleased in over a decade. Although open defecation has become less common than it was 10 years ago, it is still highly prevalent, with more than half of rural households reporting open defecation. On average, change has been slow, even during the period of the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Raising a Stink

Open defecation will continue until we link water with sanitation.

On Open Defecation

Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey are appreciated for their holistic analysis of the issue of “Open Defecation in India” (EPW, 6 December 2014). However, there are certain issues which need further debate and scrutiny. The authors are aware of the issue of Western bias, when they state, “Is this not...

Open Defecation in India

This study identifies 11 issues that have inhibited the spread of a comprehensive sanitation programme. It emphasises the complexity of issues and helps avoid the facile targeting of the poor as deficient citizens, whose latrine practices are viewed as a "primitive" source of social disorder and disease. Recognition that many factors are involved and interrelated might also serve as a warning against patchwork policies that disregard local context in their haste to proclaim another district an "open defecation free zone".

Why Open Defecation

This refers to the article by Diane Coffey et al ("Revealed Preference for Open Defecation: Evidence from a New Survey in Rural North India", EPW, 20 September 2014). I believe the reasons why latrine use is not favoured by many should be understood sensitively by those who administer the scheme...
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