The sanitation coverage in rural India has risen to 85 per cent under Swachh Bharat Mission, the largest cleanliness drive in the world.
A recent survey conducted by an Independent Verification Agency across 90,000 households in over 6000 villages found that the usage of toilets in rural India had risen to 93.4%. Two independent surveys conducted in the past by the Quality Council of India in 2017 and National Sample Survey Organization in 2016 also recorded the usage of toilets in rural India to be around 91 per cent and 95 per cent respectively.
Through mobilisation of rural communities, around 7.4 crore toilets have been built across rural India, and as an outcome, over 3.8 lakh villages and 391 districts have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
The development is significant because under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), sanitation coverage increased to more than double the coverage at the time of the launch of the Mission.
The success has reportedly been achieved due to the difference in approach to sanitation adopted by the Swachh Bharat Mission in comparison to the previous sanitation programmes in the country.
The campaign, which was launched on October 2, 2014, is India’s largest cleanliness drive and it aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, smaller towns and rural areas.
The mission’s objectives include:
• Eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing an accountable mechanism for monitoring toilet use.
• Achieving an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019, on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 90 million toilets in rural India.
• Helping India reach Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 (SDG 6).
The mission is the first sanitation programme in the country to measure outcomes (ODF) instead of output (toilets) alone.
The mission’s emphasis on behavior change in rural sanitation at the grassroots has lead to rigorous verification and sustainability of the benefits accrued to rural communities under the progress made.
Since its launch, the mission has evolved into a people's movement and it is the participation of the people that has led to its current success.