Open defecation free

Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate. The practice is rampant in India and the country is home to the world’s largest population of people who defecate in the open and excrete close to 65,000 tonnes of faeces into the environment each day.

Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children in India. The practice is the main reason India reports the highest number of diarrhoeal deaths among children under-five in the world.

Every year, diarrhoea kills 1,17,285 children under five in India. Children weakened by frequent diarrhoea episodes are more vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, and opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.

Diarrhoea and worm infection are two major health conditions that affect school-age children impacting their learning abilities. Open defecation also puts at risk the dignity of women in India. Women feel constrained to relieve themselves only under the cover of dark for reasons of privacy to protect their dignity.

Open defecation exposes women to the danger of physical attacks and encounters such as snake bites. Poor sanitation also cripples national development: workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less, and are less able to send their children to school.

What is Open defecation free?

ODF is the termination of faecal-oral transmission, defined by a) no visible faeces found in the environment/village; and b) every household as well as public/community institutions using [a] safe technology option for disposal of faeces.

{A] safe technology option means no contamination of surface soil, ground water or surface water; excreta inaccessible to flies or animals; no handling of fresh excreta; and freedom from odour and unsightly condition.

Open defecation free states are: Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Haryana, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh.

WASH in Health Centres

UNICEF in India is working in collaboration with the Health ministry to map WASH compliance in health facilities in the most deprived districts and is making recommendations to address non-compliance.
The WASH section works with state governments to identify where institutions need capacity-building. For example, it is helping reform State Water and Sanitation Missions to become responsive when they are in mission mode.

Practice question:

1. Which of the following North-Eastern State has been declared Open Defecation Free State?
1. Arunachal Pradesh
2. Tripura
3. Sikkim
4. Assam


a) 1 and 3

b) 1 and 2

c) 2 and 3

d) 2, 3 and 4

Ans: a