Water

New study points out how ODF villages are better off

Non-ODF villages much more at risk of contamination, finds study by Centre, UNICEF 

 
By Shagun Kapil
Last Updated: Thursday 06 June 2019
Photo: Avikal Somvanshi

Villages that not open-defecation free (ODF) are way more at risk than ODF villages, an assessment by the Centre and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reportedly found.

Non-ODF villages are:

  • 11.25 times more likely to have their groundwater sources contaminated
  • The contaminants are 12.7 times more likely to be traceable to humans alone
  • 68 times more likely to have household drinking water contaminated
  • 3 times more likely to have their soil contaminated
  • 48 times more likely to have food contaminated

The study on association between residing in an ODF village — where all households have toilets —  and lower contamination of water, soil, and food sources within that community was done by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and UNICEF, with support from research partners.

The findings highlight the impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission on environment and community, the report claimed. The study calculates direct attribution of faecal contamination to human sources.

The government provided a list of 60 villages 10 ODF and 10 non-ODF each in Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal. The selection criteria:

  • Proximity to airports
  • A population of at least 500
  • Not in extraordinary geographic terrains (drought-prone, rocky areas, etc)
  • ODF villages must have been so for at least six months

Four villages of each type were randomly selected from the shortlist from each state (a total of 24).

The results varied between states. The relative risk of faecal contamination of groundwater traceable to humans was 35.7 times more likely in non-ODF villages in Bihar; but in Bengal it was 6.5 times more and in Odisha 5.3 times more.

For piped water supply, the relative risk traceable to humans in non-ODF villages was 1.33 times more in Bihar; 2.73 times in Bengal and 1.5 times in Odisha.

The risk of faecal contamination of soil and food was 1.10 times and 2.16 times respectively more likely in non-ODF villages.

For the research, 17-21 water samples, eight soil samples and one to five food samples were collected per village between December 2018 and January 2019.

In Odisha, the sample collection coincided with periods of rain, which potentially resulted in a decreased impact of the protective effect of residing in an ODF village, according to the study.

The report indicates that systems for solid and liquid waste management, including faecal sludge and drainage, need improvement to better prevent fecal contamination in the environment.

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