Failure of Completely open defecation free states

Ques.“The official sanitation policy has been uniquely focussed on building toilets. But the connection between good health and using toilets has not yet been made”, While critically analysing the given statement describe the factors which resulted in the failure of accomplishment of “Completely open defecation free states”, a goal of the government. What measures should be taken to resolve the issue?

According to 2011 census, 70 per cent of rural households do not have a toilet, whereas a substantial portion of households with access to toilets are not using them. Sanitation Quality Use Access and Trends (SQUAT) survey in 13 districts of the five States of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar and found that a full 40 per cent of households in the sample that had a latrine had at least one person who was still defecating in the open. This number was the highest for Rajasthan (57 per cent) and the lowest for Haryana (35 per cent). In all over, a quarter of men with a toilet and 17 per cent of women with a toilet defecated in the open.


  • According to the survey, “pleasure, comfort, and convenience” are the reasons for 74% of those who has a toilet but defecates in the open.
  • Habit and tradition – 14 per cent of those who has a toilet but defecates in the open, It is because of “habit, tradition, and because they have always done so.
  • Improper implementation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan (NBA) scheme – India’s sanitation problem has been diagnosed as a lack of access to toilets.
  • Inadequate analysis of behaviour change among rural communities – Just building toilets without focussing on behaviour change is not going to be enough. Lack of money to build a toilet is not the only thing that is holding rural households back from building toilets, large parts of the population do not seem to have as yet made the association between good health and using toilets.
  • Households do not consider building a toilet a priority until they had built themselves a bigger and better house and taken care of other expenses. Less than half of all households in the survey which did not have a toilet believed that children would be a lot healthier in a village where no one defecated in the open.

Measures to be taken:

  • Proper implementation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan (NBA) scheme.
  • Complete analysis of behaviour change of rural community in context to sanitation and health.
  • Providing adequate knowledge and education to build up the connection between good health and using toilets among the people and the children.
  • Reducing poverty and providing adequate funds to poverty stricken to enable them to build a toilet in their houses.

Undoubtedly, the majority of people who defecate in the open are not doing it for pleasure; in the survey, of the persons defecating in the open, 86 per cent did not have toilets. However, the findings also show that just building toilets without focussing on behaviour change is not going to be enough, the researchers say.

People throughout India and around the world are watching optimistically to achieve the goal of eliminating open defecation, but to succeed the government will have to focus on behaviour change — not construction — and commit to learning and tinkering with new behavioural solutions.

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