Putting the Swachh in Swachh Bharat

Putting the Swachh in Swachh Bharat. Healthworld, May 12, 2017.

As per UNICEF & WHO estimates, about 10 million children under the age of 5 die due to improper sanitation, of these 2.4 million belong to India.

The 2015 edition of ‘The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Performance Index’ by the Water Institute at University of North Carolina, ranked India a poor 34th in sanitation access. The World Health Organization and figures from India’s own census show that almost 50 percent of the country (approximately 620 million people) defecates in the open. Acknowledging the issue back in 2014, the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech promised to change the situation. He announced the construction of over 80 lakh toilets under his ambitious Swachh Bharat mission and set a target of 2019 for eliminating open defecation and instilling a behavioral change towards cleanliness.

While the targets are impressive and the traction on-ground laudable, there is still a long way to go to achieve the desired outcomes. Building toilets requires the setting up of a robust sewage infrastructure that will handle waste efficiently and stop the spread of infectious diseases, illness and mortality amongst children. As per UNICEF & WHO estimates, about 10 million children under the age of 5 die due to improper sanitation, of these 2.4 million belong to India.

Read the complete article.

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