Progress of the Swacch Bharat Mission

The Swacch Bharat Mission was launched on October 2, 2014 by the Indian government. Among its ambitious goals was ridding India of open defecation by 2019 by building millions of toilets across the country. This week's chart examines the progress made thus far.

As you can see from the map, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Sikkim have 100% household toilet coverage. The average across the country still stands at a dismal 56%. This is however an impressive improvement from less than 42% in October 2014. States that have been laggards include Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, and Odisha with less than 35% coverage. Odisha however has seen a 23% jump in coverage second only to Gujarat's 26% improvement. Andhra Pradesh and Manipur too saw over 20% improvement in coverage. Among the larger states, Kerala was the best performer.

Despite the impressive gains, the program has come under criticism from several fronts. The World Bank which has provided $1.5 billion in funds wants to know how much progress has been made over the last 2 years. The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) is currently conducting studies to answer that question. One concerning fact that has already emerged however is that only 42.5% of rural households do not have access to water. The other issue is of drainage- effluents from the toilets appear to be drained into open field or ponds largely defeating the purpose of building the toilets. Another challenge appears to be convincing people to use toilets.

In order to achieve its goal by 2019, the Swacch Bharat Mission will have to not only build enough toilets but also address the aforementioned issues. For now, it is hard to say whether the campaign will be successful.