The Uneven Progress of Sanitation in India

This paper by Ghosh and Cairncross (2014), published in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, reviews India's progress on sanitation in the last decade. It uses India's 2001 and 2011 census returns to document the proportion of households with access to a latrine on their premises, in the different regions, states and districts of India. It finds that while some states have already achieved coverage of 90% or more, in others the proportion served is as low as 22%. Wide urban-rural disparities are revealed, with more than 81.4% of urban households, but only 30.7% of rural households having a latrine, and the difference varying widely across the country. It finds coverage has increased by 10.5% over the decade from 2001, but that this progress varied widely between states and between districts within each state; 6.3% of districts made negative progress during that period. This variation means that some have already achieved the sanitation MDG, while others, if they continue at the present rate, will not do so for many decades. The paper also looks at the causes of these differences, and finds a close association between district sanitation coverage and female literacy, suggesting an important role for education.

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