Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission has played an important role in attempting to solve the problem of open defecation in India, but the next challenge is bringing behavioural change, the Economic Survey said on Friday.

Swachh Bharat Campaign toilets

The Economic Survey identified open defecation as a source of early life disease in India.

“Income constraints may not be the main determinants of open defecation. Evidence suggests that open defecation leads to child stunting, diarrhoea and environmental enteropathy. Households who do not defecate in the open have higher height for age scores,” the survey said.

It also noted the importance of the mission in raising the profile of the problem of open defecation.

“In the last year alone, the government has built over 80 lakh toilets,” it said.

However, “…the next challenge in rural India is behavioural”, the survey added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef joint monitoring programme, 61 percent of rural Indians defecated in the open in 2015.