research and policy advocacy for health & wellbeing in India.

Sanitation

Exploring the causes and consequences of widespread open defecation in India

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Sanitation

Social Inequality

Understanding how social discrimination impacts child and maternal health in rural India

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Social Inequality

Maternal Health

Exploring challenges and policy responses to adequate nutrition in motherhood to improve child health

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Maternal Health

Environment

Understanding the health consequences of climate change and air pollution, and exploring policy responses.

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Environment

Reducing open defecation in rural India is an important human development goal, but at what cost? Read Sangita’s piece in Hindustan Times

Sangita’s article in Hindustan Times raises some pertinent questions about the ways in which the Swachh Bharat Mission has been implemented. She draws attention to the fact that the Mission’s success in getting latrines constructed and the subsequent decline in the practice of open defecation has come about through the use of threats and coercion. In a survey of four north Indian states, every second person had heard of fines, denial of government benefits, and being stopped from defecating in the open, being used as tools to compel latrine construction and use in their own village. Some people were denied their rations, pensions, and other government benefits. Moreover, the survey finds that the use of force had a visible caste angle to it: Dalits were twice as likely while Adivasis were thrice as likely to be at the receiving end of threats and coercion. The implementation of the SBM has come at a cost to certain fundamental rights. She argues, “[T]he tactics employed by the SBM present important trade-offs that require public debate. Evaluating these trade-offs will at the very least require understanding how many people have been hurt because of the SBM, and how much it has accelerated the decline in open defecation....Read More..

Dainik Bhaskar, a prominent Hindi newspaper, reports on our new research on changes in open defecation in India: 2014-2018.

The Dainik Bhaskar (DB), a prominent Hindi language newspaper, published a comprehensive report on r.i.c.e and Accountability Initiative of Centre for Policy Research’s (CPR) new research on changes in open defecation in India: 2014-2018. We were thrilled that the DB helped us share this research with millions of readers by carrying this report in several editions across India.  Here is the photo of the article. You can also find it here

For our non-Hindi readers, here are the main points covered in the DB report:

44 % people in Madhya Pradesh (MP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), Rajasthan and Bihar continue to defecate in the open, although this is an improvement of 26 per cent from what it was in 2014. This proportion remains despite MP and Rajasthan being declared open defecation free (ODF), and Bihar and Rajasthan are soon to be declared one!

The research survey visited 120 villages and covered about ten thousand people. Of the households that didn’t own a latrine in 2014, 57 % of them have a toilet now. However, the survey found the use of coercive tactics and force by the government machinery. People were threatened with the ration cuts or fines and were forced to build latrines;

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Release of r.i.c.e and Accountability Initiative’s research study “Changes in open defecation in rural north India: 2014-2018.”

 

r.i.c.e is delighted to share that the release of the new research study on “Changes in open defecation in rural north India: 2014-2018” was held at India Habitat Centre (IHC) on the 9th January 2018.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Accountability Initiative (AI) of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), reports on the findings from the two surveys.  The first survey visited rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh in late 2018, and collected data on 9,812 people and interviewed 156 local government officials. The second survey, in Udaipur district, visited 505 households in 19 villages and 60 households in 2 census towns.   This new study sheds light on what the Swachh Bharat Mission did and on changes in open defecation since 2014. It is informative about changes because researchers revisited families who participated in a 2014 survey.

Sangita presented the main findings from the research.  Broadly, these are:

  • the Swachh Bharat Mission has built a lot of latrines: 57% of   households without a latrine in 2014 had one by 2018;
  • this has reduced open defecation more quickly than before but open defecation is by no means eliminated: 44 %of rural people over two years old in rural Bihar,
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Working paper & Launch – ‘Changes in open defecation in rural north India: 2014 – 2018’

All of us at r.i.c.e. are excited to announce our new working paper, ‘Changes in open defecation in rural north India: 2014 – 2018‘. The paper documents the extent of open defecation in rural areas of four north Indian states. It is based on a new survey we conducted in the latter half of 2018 and a survey by Accountability Initiative in 2017. In the 2018 survey, we revisited households from the 2014 survey on open defecation in rural north India. The results of the 2014 survey were published in the Economic and Political Weekly.

Please also join us for the launch of the working paper on the 9th of January, 2019 at Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Center, New Delhi. Event details are available here.

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Rukmini S: Why Swachh Bharat Abhiyan matters for India’s children

Rukmini’s article, published  yesterday in LiveMint, contains some of the best data visualizations that I have seen from the NFHS-4.  She also achieves the reasonable but rare step of emphasizing that many issues simultaneously are important: height among Indian children is a large enough challenge that it can reflect many problems, each big.  Read the article!

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Two photo essays that explain the broken market of faecal sludge management

On World Toilet Day, the India Water Portal published two photo essays by Prof. Sharad Prasad and Prof Isha Ray. Prasad and Ray in their photo essays –Where there are no sewers: The Toilet Cleaners of Lucknow and When the pit fills up: A day in the life of sanitation workers in urban India –explore some important aspects of solid waste management.

Where there are no toilets: The Toilet Cleaners of Lucknow profiles Rajan and Vasumati, who work as manual scavengers, narrating the complexities of their lives. Aspiration for a better future for their children is what drives these families to continue the work that comes with the worst forms of ostracization. Starting other small business is not even an option because people around them, who already avoid touching things the members of this community have touched, for sure will avoid being their customers.

When the pit fills up: A day in the life of sanitation workers in urban India, on the other hand, explores new emerging but also somewhat broken market of septic tank emptying in Indian cities. Deepak, Rajesh, and Prabhu –all from Maadiga (dalit) community –empty septic tanks.

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Social progress and social inequality: Measurements and assessments are needed… and possible

One of r.i.c.e’s recent projects is SARI: a phone survey for Social Attitudes Research in India. A series of papers and other writings by Diane, Amit, Payal, Nazar, Nidhi, and the SARI team have shown that it is possible to construct a representative sample with a phone survey, and that people will answer survey questions (sometimes surprisingly) on what you might expect to be sensitive social issues.

Eventually, SARI may help us answer even bigger questions than can be asked in a phone survey. How are people in India doing these days? The first step in answering such a big question is deciding what the question means. “By what measure?”, we should ask. The classic measure is economic growth and wealth: GDP per capita or, for those concerned about the poor, poverty rates.

But researchers have understood for decades that the economic numbers do not tell us enough to fully understand progress in well-being. For example, economic growth could come at the cost of environmental destruction. A country could be rapidly increasing its GDP while at the same time making future suffering difficult to avoid. Most observers now agree that economic growth in the developed world has done so,

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