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Clean Water, Sanitation and Health

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Published: 5th Nov, 2020

Clean Water, Sanitation and Health

An adequate quantity of good quality water is essential for health as is access to sanitation facilities with appropriate disposal of sewage. Coupled with good hygiene practices, these two elements play a crucial role in reducing morbidity and mortality.

  • The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable ailments are water-borne.
  • Diarrhea is among the biggest killers of children under the age of 5, in addition to neonatal complications, pneumonia and sepsis.
  • Neglected tropical diseases, polio and malaria also have a strong association with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Inadequate water and sanitation-related facilities in health care institutions is severely detrimental for mothers and newborns as it leads to the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Poor mechanisms for managing menstrual hygiene management in educational institutions not only pose serious health concerns for girls but also impact their attendance and academic performance

Expanding Sanitation Coverage

India has made tremendous strides in the area of sanitation over the last few years. This transformation has been made possible through a combination of factors:

  • Strong political will has ensured personal commitment towards ensuring the success of Mission.
  • Strong emphasis on behavior change. SBM has followed a demand driven approach as opposed to being supply-driven along with measuring success in terms of “Open Defecation Free" (ODF) villages and districts, instead of mere toilet construction.
  • Focus on decentralized monitoring through the extensive use of modern technology.
  • All components of the Mission - construction, payment of incentives, ODF declaration, verification, and even active personnel in every village are reported on a realtime basis by states, districts, Gram Panchayats and villages.
  • Every toilet constructed under the Mission was mandatorily geo-tagged so as to ensure that the process is completely transparent.

Way Forward 

  • Behaviour change campaigns need to be implemented on a regular basis.
  • Incentives and benefits need to be designed for promoting the use of Infrastructure.
  • Targeted behavior change communication campaigns can also be designed specifically for panchayats and cities where reversals in ODF status are observed.
  • Involving panchayats and local communities by training them on water quality contamination and management is also critical.
  • Technologies that have been successfully piloted in different parts of India or in other country need to be scaled-up, following the necessary adaptation.
  • The focus must shift towards ensuring safe containment, transportation and disposal of faecal sludge and septage from toilets.
  • Lastly but perhaps most crucially, all efforts should be made to ensure the safety and dignity of sanitation workers through the provision of protective gear and mechanized equipment.

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