WASH Report


    In News

    According to a WASH report, India is responsible for the largest drop in open defecation since 2015.


    • The report is released by Wash Institute, a global non-profit organisation.
    • The report emphasised on universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to achieve the United Nations-mandated SDG 6 in achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.

    Key Findings

    • Open Defecation
      • India saw the largest drop in open defecation since 2015.
      • In 2006, the third round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) found open defecation to be practised by less than 10 per cent of the population in four states and the Union Territory of Delhi, but by more than half the population in 11 states.
      • By 2016, when the fourth round of the NFHS was conducted, open defecation had decreased in all states, with the largest drops seen in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
      • Progress in curbing open defecation in sub-Saharan Africa was slow.
    • Sustainable Development Goal 6
      • SDG 6 is about ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
        • Water sources ‘accessible on premises’: If the point of water collection is within the dwelling, compound, yard or plot, or is supplied to the household through piped supply or tanks.
        • Water ‘available when needed’: If households report having ‘sufficient water. 
        • For the purposes of global monitoring, drinking water is considered ‘free from contamination’ if the water is free and safe from contamination of bacteria like E Coli.
      • Between 2016 and 2020, the global population with access to safely managed drinking water at home increased to 74 per cent, from 70 per cent.
      • An improvement is seen in at-source water resources including piped water, boreholes or tubewells, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater and packaged or delivered water.
    • Onsite sanitation system: 
      • It is a system in which excreta and wastewater are collected, stored and/or treated on the plot where they are generated.
      • Globally, access to safely managed sanitation services increased over the 2000-2020 period by an average of 1.27 percentage points per year.


    • WASH is an acronym that stands for “water, sanitation and hygiene”. 
    • Universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH is a key public health issue within international development.
    • It is the focus of the first two targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
    • Over 700 children under age 5 die every day of diarrhoeal diseases due to lack of appropriate WASH services. 

    Open Defecation

    • Open defecation is when people defecate in the open – for example, in fields, forests, bushes, lakes and rivers – rather than using a toilet. 
    • Globally, the practice is decreasing steadily, however, its elimination by 2030, one of the targets of the SDGs, requires a substantial acceleration in toilet use particularly in Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.


    • Fewer Diseases: Reduced chances of catching diseases.
    • Human Right: Having access to a toilet and being able to use it is a human right which is being better provided with all these developments
    • Safety: Women are safe from the physical attacks that they face when defecating in the open. They are prone to Snake Bites etc.
    • Hygiene: people will be better inculcated with Hygiene qualities which is beneficial in the long run.
    • Covid 19: These habits of hand wash and defecating in closed space has, to an extent, helped. Only 3 out of 10 people were not able to wash their hands due to a lack of water resources.
    • Decreasing Health burden: Reduced health burden on the state and Central Government.


    • Funding: To ensure the long-term sustainability of both centralised and decentralised sanitation, proper funding and investment was required.
    • Lack of resources: 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water at home during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a lack of water resources.
    • Survival cost: Children—already vulnerable and marginalized—pay the highest price in respect of their survival and development.
    • Change Management: deep-rooted cultural and social norms that have established open defecation as an acceptable practice.
    • Malnourishment: India is already suffering from issues of malnourishment like stunting, underweight etc among children. Such children are bound to get affected with diarrheal diseases which generally are the result of lacking hygiene.

    Way Forward

    • In June 2020, the World Health Organization and Unicef jointly launched the ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ initiative, which aims to improve access to handwashing infrastructure as well as stimulating changes in handwashing practices where facilities are available.
    • Handwashing facilities with soap and water increased to 71 per cent, from 67 per cent.

    Source: DTE