Water, sanitation and hygiene in Odisha

Access to basic amenities has always been a determinant of improvement in community health and the list of basic amenities begins with safe drinking water for survival, improved sanitation and hygiene. In spite of considerable investment, millions continue to live without access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), which is being recognized as a human right. Odisha being one of the poorest States in India, has not been able to achieve the desired result in WASH.

Despite the efforts under Central Rural Sanitation Program (CRSP) in the year 1986 and the present Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the matter of ‘Sanitation’ has neither been treated as a developmental issue nor has the intervention been done beyond the service delivery in Odisha. It is similar in case of drinking water – starting from ‘Accelerated Rural Drinking Water Programme’ (ARDWP) to ‘National Rural Drinking Water Programme’ (NRDWP). Drinking water is still a mirage for many. Every year, people, especially the excluded and marginalized, die because of epidemics like diarrhoea. There is a whole gamut of problem associated in making the water safe from bacteriological contaminations. Chemical and bacteriological contamination of drinking water sources compounded with industrial pollution has its deadly stake in the whole scenario. Coming down to the state of Odisha, the magnitude of the problem is higher than the national one. A large percentage of population continues to have no or insufficient access to safe drinking water. Water is becoming scarce due to ever-increasing population, degrading natural resource base and climatic variations; improper management, conflicting uses and commoditization.

As per Census 2011, there are 50,05,518 out of total 80,89,987 rural households in Odisha have access to water for drinking and domestic purposes. Thus there are 61.87 percent rural households have access to drinking water. In case of urban households, there are 12,37,246 out of total 15,47,833 urban households have access to water for drinking and domestic purposes. Thus there are 79.93 percent urban households have access to drinking water. Both availability and quality of drinking water affects the access of drinking water in rural and urban areas. During summer, many of the drinking water sources across the state go dry impacting the access. ‘Drawdown’, mostly resulting from the depleting ground water level, came across to be ‘omnipresent’. The problem is aggravating in coastal areas due to excessive withdrawal of ground water for irrigation purposes.

The changes in policy regime related to sanitation have hardly attained the objective of eliminating open defecation in Odisha. As per census 2011, the sanitation coverage of Odisha was around 14 percent in the rural areas through household sanitary toilets, which was amongst the bottom two states in the country along with Jharkhand. One of the critical issues related to household toilets is the functionality aspect. Around 8 percent of the existing toilets are reported as dysfunctional as per the baseline study of MDWS. Besides the use of the remaining functional toilets is also not validated or tracked by the government IMIS. Field experiences clearly suggest that large numbers of toilets are not being used by the community due to varied reasons.

The Odisha Development Conclave-2016 is planned in this regard to bring the key stakeholders to discuss, deliberate on the following issues and come up with specific recommendations for addressing the WASH challenges in the State.

Focus Areas:

  • Transition from MDGs to SDGs
  • Resource allocation in WASH
  • Governance and Human Resources in WASH
  • People’s participation in WASH promotion