State of Sanitation (SoS)

Project Summary

Open defecation in rural India remains a problem that perplexes policy makers and civil society alike. India has the largest number of people who practice open defecation (626 million) and the most number of child deaths due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions compared to the rest of the world.

While access to toilets is by itself an important aspect that needs to be understood, it is not enough to reach the goal of total sanitation. Indeed, India’s rural sanitation scheme which was devised in 1986 and restructured in 2012 as the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) acknowledges this when it sets as its goal not only universal toilet coverage by 2022 but also improving health and provision of privacy and dignity to women with the overall goal of improving the quality of life of people living in rural areas.

Aims of the SoS project

Multiple agencies have assessed the status of the rural sanitation programme and have quantified its benefits over time. There have however, been very few attempts to provide an online, concurrent monitoring mechanism for government to track the status of both the implementation of the scheme and the larger benefits from the scheme.

The State of Sanitation (SoS) project is run by Arghyam with the goal to understand the success of the sanitation scheme from the following lenses:

  1. coverage
  2. equity
  3. accountability
  4. efficiency
  5. health

To know more about the project click here.


  1. Design monitoring tools – This will include:
    • Online tools that help demystify government data and provide overlays between multiple data sets that are relevant to sanitation. These tools will be opened up to civil society and provide context to the large data sets. View the State of Sanitation in India – Data visualisation tool.
    • Participatory assessment tools that will attempt to qualify how the scheme is working and issues in implementation, usage and achievement of the rural sanitation scheme’s goals.
  2. Identify best practices and gaps in implementation – This will include:
    • Ground verification of best practices and issues
    • Focussed efforts to document good practices and problems.
*Grant amount & beneficiary figures are as per actuals for completed projects.