Open Defecation in Karnataka

Open defecation is the practice of people defecating outside and not into a designated toilet. Open defecation causes public health problems including diarrhea, intestinal worm infections, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio and trachoma.

Elimination of open defecation is widely regarded as one of the key goals of sustained development all over the world. To this end the government of Karnataka has proposed, and is working towards, the objective of eradicating open defecation in Karnataka by 2nd October 2018. With this goal in mind, IndiaGoverns has conducted a study using the 2011 census data to identify the key areas in Karnataka with high rates of open defecation.

There were a total of 132 lakh households in Karnataka in 2011. Out of these, 59 lakh households (about 44% of all households) resort to open defection. There are a total of 224 constituencies in Karnataka. The graph below gives the distribution of open defecation across constituencies:  ka_od_dist_3

The graph shows that 57% of all constituencies had more than 50% of households (HH) where there were no latrine facilities and the alternative was open defecation.

Below table shows the 10 constituencies who had the highest % of households which resorted to open defecation:

MLA constituency % HH resorting to open defecation
Gurmitkal 89
Chincholi (SC) 89
Devar Hippargi 88
Babaleshwar 88
Aurad (SC) 88
Jevargi 87
Raichur Rural (ST) 87
Afzalpur 87
Indi 86
Shorapur (ST) 86

Below graph shows the open defecation prevalence across the top 10 districts with the highest % of households which resorted to open defecation:Box plot_ka_OD

We see that there are constituencies within these districts that have maintained a relatively low % households which resort to open defecation.

An interesting finding was a high correlation between % SC/ST population and % household resorting to open defecation (a correlation co-efficient of 0.58). While this does raise some questions, it must be noted that correlation does not imply causation.


Thus far, the government is focused on the building of toilet facilities such that an individual toilet is available in each home. While this is the best course of action for the time being, the government will need to take measures to change the mindset of people who prefer open defecation to using toilets. Availability of water and maintenance of built toilets will also be concerns that the government will need to address once the goal of 100% toilet availability is achieved.

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