It is widely accepted that India’s “Total Sanitation Campaign has been a failure”.
In 2001 rural sanitation coverage was 22%. In 2011, ten years of Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) later, the Government of India claimed that coverage was 68%. But recent Census data revealed that real coverage was only 31%. This means that less than one in five toilets reportedly constructed is in place.
A more detailed analysis of the data also shows that progress during the TSC decade has been two points slower than in the previous decade. Also, that population growth has outpaced the coverage increase; the total number of households without latrine has increased in 83 lakhs (8.300.000).
|Number of HHs in rural India [A]||138.271.559||167.826.730|
|Percentage of rural HHs with latrine [B]||21.9%||30.7%|
|HHs without latrine [C=(100-B)·A]||107.990.088||116.303.924|
|Increase in HHs without latrine [D=C2011-C2001]|
These figures have been generally missing in recent analysis on the failure of the TSC, despite the importance of a thorough examination of Census data. This includes also going to lower levels and analysing what happens at the states or even districts, identifying success stories as well as regions lagging behind. The animated graph (which can be accessed here or by clicking on the still picture below) – tries to contribute to this, illustrating the situation, progress and over-reporting state by state.
What does the graph tell?
For example, on the right we have the Indian states that have progressed most. Himachal Pradesh stands out as the best performing state. Others, like Punjab, Haryana or Uttarkhand have done relatively well, too.
However, states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha (Orissa) and Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand, are stuck in the bottom (low coverage) left (low progress) of the graph. They also have high rates of over-reporting (reddish colours). And due to their large populations (bubble size) their situation represents a tremendous challenge for India as a whole.
Insights like these, along with those gained from exploring district level data, can help shape future research trying to shed light on what has worked (or not) where and why. This kind of research has the potential to inform Indian sanitation policy making, which has not shown much reflexivity to date, for instance when the sanitation campaign was redesigned without a previous thorough evaluation.
Author: Andrés Hueso
Affiliation: Group of Studies in Development, Cooperation and Ethics - Universitat Politècnica de València