Data on sanitation: NFHS data offers a reality check for claims of Swachh Bharat success

News: Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation released the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) Round-3 (2019-20). But NARSS data shows some discrepancies with the NFHS 5 data.

What are the findings of NARSS data on sanitation?

NARSS is aligned with the SBM and is implemented through private agencies. It measures the performance of each state with respect to the DLIs (Disbursement Linked Indicators). The survey components include a household sample survey and a village survey.

DLI 1: It focuses on the reduction in the prevalence of open defecation. The indicator is based on the rural population having access to sanitation facilities, the functionality of the toilet, safe disposal mechanism of human excreta etc.

DLI 2: It measures the rural population of ODF villages showing a sustained ODF status. This is calculated based on households having access and use of a toilet, and the absence of visible faeces in village surroundings and places historically used for open defecation.

What is the difference between various data on sanitation?

The NSSO had conducted a survey during July-December 2018 covering drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, etc. It had reported 71.3% of households have access to a latrine, far lower than the NARSS 2018-19 figure of 93.3%. Also, only a few detailed state reports are available from NFHS.

Why stakeholders should rely on NFHS data on sanitation?

Although NFHS data is available partially, it clearly indicates the need for reinforcing the behavioural change the government plans to sustain during Phase II of SBM.

Source: This post is based on the article “The many problems of online anonymity” published in Indian Express on 20th January 2022.

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