Swachh Bharat: Key Challenges in Rural & Urban Sanitation

Discussion in Progress
Sanitation is not only about hygiene but it significant for the health and overall well-being of a person. According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, December 2013, nearly 60 percent of the rural India defecates in the open. Even urban India has not been able to eliminate the scourge of open defecation.  Whereas in comparison, our neighbor country Bangladesh which has a per capita income only half of India’s, only 5 percent defecate in the open.

Various analysis by the experts have pointed towards the fact the lack of access to toilets is not the only big issue. Building toilets is not the end to the problem but there is also an underlying problem of social behavior, culture and awareness towards sanitation.

With the present government’s Swachh Bharat Campaign, sanitation has gained tremendous impetus and political attention over the past few months. This mission to provide improved sanitation to the vast numbers of people who lack this basic human amenity can lead to vast improvements in national health indicators, and in turn raise quality of life.

To discuss this and to get a brief overview of the general sanitation situation in rural & urban India today and the overarching challenges faced in meeting the target for a Swachh Bharat in the next 4 years, the Governance & Public Policy Initiative – Centre for Policy Research (GPPI-CPR) organised an interactive discussion with the Members of Parliament on August 11, 2015.

This included presentations by Mr. Neeraj Jain, Country Director Water Aid International, on Rural Sanitation and by Dr. Srinivas Chary Vedala, Director, Urban Governance, Infrastructure, Environment and Energy, Administrative Staff College of India, on urban sanitation.

A multi-party group of 27 prominent Members of Parliament participated in the discussion which was chaired by Dr. Sanjay Jasiwal, MP, BJP from Bihar.