India census: more people have a mobile phone than a household toilet

Nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home, but more people own a mobile phone, according to the latest census data.

Only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have lavatories while 49.8% defecate in the open. The remaining 3.2% use public toilets.

Census of India 2011 – Availability and Type of Latrine Facility: 2001-2011

Census 2011 data on houses, household amenities and assets reveal that 63.2% of homes have a telephone. More than half the population – 53.2% – have a mobile phone.

About 77% of homes in the eastern state of Jharkhand have no toilet facilities, while the figure is 76.6% for Orissa and 75.8% in Bihar. All three are among India’s poorest states with huge populations which live on less than a dollar a day. In Jammu & Kashmir 8.9% of households still have their latrines emptied by manual scavengers.

“Open defecation continues to be a big concern for the country as almost half of the population do it,” Registrar General and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli said while releasing the latest data.

“Cultural and traditional reasons and a lack of education are the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice. We have to do a lot in these fronts,” he said.

Anita Narre addressing villagers

A union minister had recently said women in rural areas demand mobile phones, not toilets. This was vigorously denied by a 20-year-old tribal woman from Madhya Pradesh Anita Narre. “A toilet is more significant in the life of a woman than a mobile because the former gives them dignity”, she said. Anita Narre grabbed the international headlines at the beginning of the year when she was awarded for leading a “sanitation revolution”. Two days after her marriage in 2011 she left her in-laws house and refused to return until  they had built a toilet.

The full set of statistics on the Availability and Type of Latrine Facility: 2001-2011 can be downloaded as an Excel file with related visualisations or as a PDF file.


  • BBC, 14 Mar 2012
  • IANS, ‘For women, toilets more important than mobiles’, Mid-Day, 08 Mar 2012

5 responses to “India census: more people have a mobile phone than a household toilet

  1. Pingback: Les toilettes , les portables, les femmes et l’Inde - Un article de Le Blog d’Albert Amgar

  2. Pingback: In India, more homes have cell phones than toilets | Humanosphere

  3. Pingback: Sanitation and dignity according to 20-year-old tribal woman Anita Narre – Madhya Pradesh | Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation

  4. Pingback: In India, more homes have cell phones than toilets | Humanosphere

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