Evidence Review: Potential Impact of Sanitation on Health and Wellbeing, 2018 (UNICEF India)

On 2nd October 2014, the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi launched the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) with the aim of making India open defecation free (ODF) by 2nd October 2019. All Government of India ministries and public sector autonomous agencies were mandated to make and implement a Swachhta (Clean) Plan. All state governments were required to implement SBM, and to monitor progress towards attaining the ODF status for their states. Consequently, momentum had built up around the SBM and most people in India were familiar with the programme’s goals. SBM had an ambitious timeline to realize an ODF India in five years, a country which had very high levels of open defecation at the start of the programme. This was especially challenging when compared to other countries that sought the same goals but required a much longer time frame. Bangladesh, for instance, took 15 years to become ODF, while Thailand took 40 years to do so.

This evidence review drew from research already undertaken and highlighted the potential impact of sanitation achievements on improving the health and wellbeing of communities, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable. It was based on a selection of relevant global literature, ongoing studies and research on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) topics in India, and drew on additional documents including literature reviews provided by UNICEF India.