Indian water, sanitation and hygiene: some progress but long-term challenges remain

Public health Water hygiene sanitation India

The Swachh Bharat (Clean India) and Namami Gange (Obeisance to the Ganges) campaigns are two of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship policies and aim to change Indian attitudes towards cleanliness and civic responsibility. They seek to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) and thereby alleviate the health problems caused by limited access to those services. The campaigns have achieved limited results, however, and are unlikely to achieve their aims by the 2019 target. Modi will continue to campaign on WASH issues in his bid for re-election in 2019.

Key points:

  • Limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities is a major developmental barrier in India.
  • In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a campaign to improve sanitation standards and clean the Ganges River before the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth in October 2019.
  • That goal is unlikely to be achieved, but the five-year campaign has increased access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
  • Despite that, Modi is likely to emphasise the achievements made under his administration to clean the Ganges and lift access to sanitation in his re-election campaign.
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