Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India: NSS 76th Round (July-December 2018)


This November 2019 report by the National Statistical Office presents the results of the survey ‘Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India’. It was conducted as part of the 76th round of the National Statistical Survey (NSS), administered between July and December 2018. The last such survey was taken in 2012 by the National Sample Survey Office as part of the NSS’s 69th round.

Its objective was to understand the conditions necessary for a household to live a decent and healthy life, and to develop indicators for such an assessment. For this purpose, the NSS examined the living conditions of households across India (rural and urban), except those villages in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that were difficult to access. A total of 106,838 households (63,736 in rural and 43,102 in urban areas) were surveyed. 

Information was collected on a range of parameters, including: the type, condition, and ‘tenurial status’ of the dwelling/residential unit, the drainage system of the unit, system of disposal of household wastewater and garbage, and problems of flies and mosquitoes. The report notes that these determine the quality of living conditions of the members of a household.


  1. The average household size (number of persons) in rural areas was 4.5 people. In urban areas, it was 3.9 people. A household is defined as a group of people normally living together and consuming food from a common kitchen.

  2. The report defines the principal source of water as the source through which the household obtained most of its drinking water in the last 365 days. A majority of urban households (40.9 per cent) used ‘piped water into dwelling’ as their principal source of drinking water. Other major sources included ‘piped water to yard/plot’ (16 per cent) and bottled water (12.2 per cent).

  3. Most rural households (42.9 per cent) used hand-pumps. Other major sources included ‘piped water into dwelling (11.3 per cent) and tubewell (10.9 per cent).

  4. 88.7 per cent of the surveyed households (87.6 per cent of rural and 90.9 per cent of urban households) stated that they received sufficient water from their principal source of drinking water throughout the year.

  5. 65.3 per cent of households (72.8 per cent in rural and 50.9 per cent in urban areas) did not treat drinking water to improve its quality. The most common treatment method was electric purifiers (20.8 per cent) for urban households, and filtration with cloth (12.9 per cent) for rural households.

  6. 91.2 per cent of urban households had access to a bathroom, and 75 per cent had exclusive access to one. A majority (74.8 per cent) of these had a bathroom attached to their dwelling unit.

  7. 56.6 per cent of surveyed households in rural areas had access to a bathroom. Among them, 48.4 per cent had bathrooms attached to the dwelling unit, and 50.7 per cent had bathrooms detached from the dwelling unit, but within the household premises.

  8. 28.7 per cent of surveyed households in rural areas reported that they did not have access to a latrine. In the report, this refers to a majority of household members having access to a latrine irrespective of whether they used it or not.

  9. Citing the 69th round (2012) and 76th round (2018) of the NSS, the report says that the percentage of households with latrines increased between 2012 and 2018. In rural areas, 40.6 per cent of households had access to a latrine in 2012, while for urban areas that number was 91.2 per cent. In 2018, these numbers went up to (the report claims) 71.3 per cent in rural areas and 96.2 per cent in urban areas.

  10. Citing the 69th  and 76th round of the NSS (2012 and 2018 respectively), the report indicates that the number of families living in pucca houses (structures with walls and roofs made of material such as cement, concrete and oven-burnt bricks) increased from 74.6 per cent in 2012 to 83.3 per cent in 2018.

  11. 38.9 per cent of rural and 8 per cent of urban households – 28.3 per cent of all surveyed households – reported having no drainage system – that is, no formal system of carrying away household wastewater and liquid waste.

  12. 48.1 per cent of the rural households surveyed reported that their household wastewater was disposed of in open low land areas/streets without treatment of any kind. The other main methods included ‘drainage system’ (23.8 per cent) and disposal to ‘other places’ with or without treatment (12.4 per cent).

    Focus and Factoids by Vasundhara Kamath.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


National Statistical Office


Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India


Nov, 2019