Environmental Degradation, Population Pressure and Health in South India: Elite Capture or Poor Information?

Monica Das Gupta, World Bank Group
Vijayendra Rao, World Bank Group
Radu Ban, World Bank Group

Despite efforts to mandate and finance local governments’ provision of environmental sanitation services, outcomes remain poor in the villages we surveyed in the four South Indian states despite the dangers presented by high population density and crowding. Our analysis indicates some key issues that appear to hinder improvements in environmental sanitation. We find that politicians tend to capture sanitary infrastructure and services for themselves, while also keeping major village roads reasonably well-served. However, their decisions suggest that they do not understand the public health benefits of environmental management or the negative externalities to themselves of poor sanitation in surrounding areas. Our findings suggest that improving environmental sanitation outcomes requires disseminating information on its benefits and on local governments’ responsibilities and putting in place regulations and other measures to enable accountability in service provision.

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Presented in Session 34: Environment and Health