The
Congress party made certain claims disputing the BJP government’s declaration
that India is 100% ODF. How true are these claims? Here is a detailed
fact-check.

On 02 October
2019, Congress party posted the following two infographics
on its social media handles with the caption, ‘Why is the BJP govt
determined to diminish Gandhiji’s ideology of Satya. The only thing honest
about this statement is that India must continue to work on this mission
because we are not Open Defecation Free’.

This post was
uploaded following BJP’s
tweet
on 01 October 2019, stating that on
Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the incredible task of
making India Open Defecation Free has been achieved. In this story, we fact
check Indian National Congress’s claims by verifying both the infographics
separately.

Open Defecation Free_BJP tweet

Are 7% of the Urban households without water for use in Toilet?

Open Defecation Free_Urban households without water for use in Toilet

Claim: Lack of water in urban households for toilet purposes has forced more people to defecate in the open. 7% of Urban households are without water for use in toilet. In Uttar Pradesh, this is at 11% and 19% in Jharkhand. 
Fact: The data used in the infographic by Congress is from the NSSO report released in October 2018. However, the latest data on urban households without water facility for toilets is not available (for the year 2019). Secondly, the NSSO reports are sample surveys and for the 75th round, the sample size was 14300 villages. Thus, the claim made by Congress remains UNVERIFIED.

The first
infographic on urban households claims that 7% of the urban households’ lack
water for use in toilets. In Uttar Pradesh 11% of the urban households do not
have water to be used in toilets while in Jharkhand, the same is at 19%. The
lack of access to water in toilets leads to unclean toilets thereby resulting
in open defecation.

The numbers used
by Congress have been taken from the ‘Swachhta Status in India’ report released
by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in October 2018. This survey was undertaken
by NSSO
between July to December, 2017 along with other surveys and released in October
2018. As per this report, 18% in Odisha, 17% in Tripura and 16% in West Bengal
also lack water in toilets.

It can also be
seen that, as compared to the 72nd round of NSS conducted between
July 2014 and June 2015, the percentage of urban households without water in
toilets has dropped from 12% to 7% in 2018. Similarly, in each of these states,
there has been a reduction in the percentage of urban households without water
in toilets except in West Bengal and Odisha, where this number either increased
or remained the same.

Open Defecation Free_percentage of Urban households without water for use in Toilet

In spite of lack
of water as noted above, 99% of the urban population in India who have toilets,
avail the facility according to the same report. As per this report, 4% of urban
population in India were not using any kind of toilets during the period of
survey. The same proportion was 8% in 2014-15. Thus, a fall in the proportion
of urban population not using toilets has reduced by 4% in 2 years. Water
availability in toilets increased from 88% of households in 2014-15 to 93% in
2017.

However, the
latest data on urban households without water facility for toilets is not
available (for the year 2019). Secondly, the NSSO reports are sample surveys
and for the 75th round, the survey covered 7134 units (4043 villages
and 3091 urban blocks) and 71205 households (40338 in rural areas and 30867 in
urban areas) at an All-India level. Thus, the claim made by Congress remains UNVERIFIED.

Is
it true that 33% of Rural Indians do not use any type of toilet?

Open Defecation Free_Congress Image about ODF India

Claim: India is not open defecation free since 33% of rural Indians still do not use any type of toilet.
Fact: Congress party used 2017-18 data from NSSO while the NARSS report released this year shows better numbers. At the same time, there have been independent sample surveys which dispute the government’s 100% ODF figures. Thus, it can be concluded that the Congress party’s claim is MISLEADING.

The data used by
the Congress in the second infographic is also based on the ‘Swachhta Status in
India’ report released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in October
2018. According to this report, 33% of rural Indians did not use any type of
toilet, be it household or community toilet. Uttar Pradesh had the largest
proportion of such rural population, about 58%, who didn’t use toilets. The
percentages in Bihar and Jharkhand were 53% and 49% respectively. In Odisha,
47% of rural population did not use toilets.

However, as
compared to the 72nd NSSO round of 2015, the percentage of rural
population that did not use toilets has come down from 52% to 33%. Even in
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the percentage has dropped by 8%, 17% and
32% respectively. The highest decrease in proportion of rural proportion not
using toilets was witnessed in Chhattisgarh, by 53%. Hence, the possibility of
further decrease in the numbers in second half of 2019 cannot be ruled out.  

Open Defecation Free_percentage of Rural households not using in Toilet

National
Annual Rural Sanitation Survey
 (NARSS) conducted between November 2018 and
February 2019 by an independent verification agency revealed that 93.3% of
rural population had access to toilets while 96.5% of the rural people who had
access to toilets, used them. The survey was conducted across 6136 villages in
India with a sample of 92,040 households.

According to the
survey, 82.7% of the rural population in India used safe, functional and
hygienic toilets. In Bihar, 60.1% of the rural population used toilets and
83.4% in Uttar Pradesh used toilets. In Jharkhand, 64% of people in rural areas
used toilets. Since the data presented by NARSS is that of 2018-19, it is more
recent unlike NSSO data which was compiled in 2017-18. As of 2019, 100% of
rural population has access to toilet as per government’s Swachh Bharat website.
Every household using safe technology for disposal of faeces or in other words,
100% usage of toilets is one
of the criteria
for a village/Gram Sabha
to declare ODF.

At the same time,
there have been some independent
sample surveys
which dispute the
government figures of 100% ODF.

To conclude, the
Congress party used 2017-18 data from NSSO while the NARSS report released this
year shows better numbers.  At the same
time, there have been independent sample surveys which dispute the government’s
100% ODF figures. Thus, it can be concluded that the Congress party’s claim is MISLEADING.

What
is ODF (Open Defecation Free)?

The Swachh
Bharat Mission
(SBM) website shows that
the individual household latrine coverage in India has reached 100%. As per the
data on the website, more than 10 crore toilets were built in India since 2014.
Moreover, in the span of five years, the number of districts which had declared
themselves to be free of Open Defecation increased from mere 5 districts in
2015-16 to 699 districts in 2019 as per the SBM website. Sanitation, being a
state subject, the responsibility for implementing the mission also lies with
the State governments.

The definition
adopted by the government
in June 2015 for ODF is ‘the termination of oral- faecal transmission’ defined
by the following two criteria.

  1. No
    visible faeces found in the environment/village
  2. Every
    household as well as public/community institution is using safe technology
    option for disposal of faeces.’

Being ODF does not
end in gaining the title. The government
has also come up with guidelines for ensuring that the practice/trend sustains
by monitoring the villages.

However, it is a
matter of debate as noted above whether or not the country is actually free of
open defecation since it is a behavioural change that takes time to manifest
and cannot be concluded with mere numbers which can be easily manipulated. Some
independent
sample surveys
disputed the
government’s numbers.

Number of toilets
constructed is not always a true reflection of usage. Accessibility to water
for toilet purposes, maintenance of hygiene and disposal of waste should also
be considered. The statement that India needs to work on the mission is without
doubt, true!

The post Fact Check: How true are Congress party’s claims about ODF? appeared first on FACTLY.

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