Sanitation includes water supply, safe disposal of human waste, waste water and solid waste management, control of vectors of diseases, domestic and personal hygiene, food, sanitation, housing etc. The US National Sanitation Foundation defines sanitation thus: “It is the quality of living expressed in clean homes, clean farms, clean neighbourhoods and clean community. Being a way of life, it must come from people, nourished as it is by knowledge and it grows as obligation and ideal in human relations”. Accordingly, environmental sanitation is viewed as “the control of all those factors in man’s physical environment which exercise a deleterious effect on his physical development, health and survival” (WHO, 1992). Environmental sanitation is vital for protecting the environment, improving health, alleviating poverty, enhancing quality of life and raising productivity – all of which are essential for sustainable development. Sanitation is not only keeping clean but protecting those sources of the environment which support and promote sustainable development. The development programmes, howsoever innovative they may be, are not likely to yield desired results unless the environmental sanitation is improved and protected.
The global coverage of population with access to excreta disposal facilities has increased from 55% (2.9 billion people served) in 1990 to 60% (3.6 billion) in 2000. Still a total of 2.4 billion people in the world were without access to improved sanitation at the beginning of the year 2000. In India, the % coverage increased from 21 to 31 during the same period. Although there is an appreciable gain in the access to sanitation facilities by the population in absolute numbers, the percentage coverage appears to be modest due to high population growth.
The obvious fact is that the future of the country largely depends on sanitation which is the most important thing, next to population control. We have to accept this fact in order to raise production and create a clean and civilised society which India has always been.