Some facts on drinking water scenario in India

More people in rural India have access to phones than to safe drinking water. It is estimated that only 18 percent of the total rural population of 833 million have access to treated water. In comparison, 41 percent of the rural population, or 346 million people, own mobile phones.

Only about one-third of rural households in India are reached by piped water supplies.  The rest is still living ‘beyond the pipe’.

Access to safe water varies greatly from state to state: 36 percent of the rural population in Andhra Pradesh has access to treated water while, in Bihar, less than 2 percent of the rural population receives treated water.

WHO estimates that, in India, about 38 million people are affected by waterborne diseases each year, of which over 75 percent are children; 780,000 deaths are attributable to contaminated water and more than 400,000 can be attributed to diarrhea alone.

India ranks a dismal 120 out of 122 nations for its water quality and 133rd out of 180 nations for its water availability.

The 13 percent of rural households (approximately 22 million people) served by untreated piped connections along with the 69 percent of households (approximately 116 million people) that live “beyond the pipe” constitute a large potential market for safe water solutions.

India has more people in rural areas–63.4 million–living without access to clean water than any other country, according to Wild Water, State of the World’s Water 2017, new report by WaterAid, a global advocacy group on water and sanitation.

That is more than the combined population of Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand. Compared globally, that is as many people as live in Australia, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Bulgaria–combined.

Some Facts on Open Defecation

According to the ODF (Open Defecation Free) vision document, 82 % of the one billion people practicing open defecation in the world live in only 10 countries.

India has the highest number of people practicing open defecation. Countries with a high number of people openly defecating are:

  • Indonesia- 54 million
  • Nigeria – 39 million
  • Ethiopia- 34 million
  • Pakistan- 25 milliion


  1. India has 17% of the world’s population, but accounts for 60% of all people in the world without sanitation.
  2. While leading a non-violent movement for India’s independence from the British in 1947, Gandhi spoke about the need to improve hygiene and cleanliness in the country. “Sanitation is more important than political independence,” he said.
  3. India’s current prime minister says building toilets is a priority over temples. His administration has set a goal of ending defecating in the open by 2019.
  4. More than130 million households in India lack toilets.
  5. Out of the 949 million in the world that don’t have toilets, India accounts for a whopping 564 million.
  6. 61% of rural India and 10% of urban India defecates in the open.
  7. The economic impact of inadequate sanitation in India amounts to Rs 2.44 Trillion a year.
  8. In India, diarrhea and pneumonia kills almost 600,000 kids under the age of 5 years, which accounts for 30% of the global total.
  9. Nearly 565 million Indians defecate in the open due to lack of toilet.
  10. In rural India, more households have access to TV’s and cell phones than toilets.
  11. 60% of all the people in world, who do not have access to sanitation facilities are in India.
  12. In the slums of Mumbai, between 81 to 243 people share one toilet.
  13. Majority of female students drop out of schools due to lack of toilets. A mere 22% graduate class 10.
  14. In rural India, lack of proper sanitation facilities contribute to stunting of newborn children.

WHO Website:

Countries that account for almost three-quarters of the people who practice open defecation:

  1. India (626 million)
  2. Indonesia (63 million)
  3. Pakistan (40 million)
  4. Ethiopia (38 million)
  5. Nigeria (34 million)
  6. Sudan (19 million)
  7. Nepal (15 million)
  8. China (14 million)
  9. Niger (12 million)
  10. Burkina Faso (9.7 million)
  11. Mozambique (9.5 million)
  12. Cambodia (8.6 million).



  • with 626 million people who practice open defecation, has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined;
  • accounts for 90 per cent of the 692 million people in South Asia who practice open defecation;
  • accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation;
  • has 97 million people without access to improved sources of drinking water, second only to China.
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