On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin/rural)


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  • nityajacob
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On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin/rural)

The India Sanitation Coalition in cooperation with the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), is holding its first thematic online discussion on the Swacch Bharat Mission. The thematic online discussion is the first in a series of discussions taking place under the umbrella of the SuSanA Indian chapter. The discussion will run from 29th July- 21st August 2016. Join our discussion on the SuSanA Forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/259-on...usana-indian-chapter

Since it was launched 2nd October, 2014, Swacch Bharat Mission has been one of the government’s flagship programmes. The percentage of the eligible rural population with toilets has increased to 52% from about 39% in 2012, according to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation that oversees the programme. Though a lot of work has been done in the field of rural sanitation in the past decade in the country, sanitation coverage is still poor.

A major challenge has been to ensure everybody uses toilets all the time to make communities free from open defecation (ODF).

Since SBM Rural was launched the annual achievement against targets for construction of toilets have been a little higher than the earlier Total Sanitation Campaign and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, as shown in this table (data from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India):
FINANCIAL YEARHousehold toilets
TOTALBelow Poverty LineAbove Poverty Line

The utilisation of funds has, however, been much higher as shown in this table:
Financial YearTotal Available Fund (In Lakhs)Expenditure (In Lakhs)% Utilization of Funds Released

This means the states have used funds more efficiently and there has been an increase in construction. A large part of the increased expenditure is also due to the increase in the incentive amount in 2014-15. The national figures hide huge state level variations. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha remain the laggards while Kerala and Sikkim have all but become ODF. There are state specific factors for this, governance and education being two of them.

Though it is necessary that the construction of new toilets has to continue, mere creation of infrastructure will not be the sole mean to achieve the government’s target to make India ODF until 2019. An innovation is the use of concurrent learning, called Rapid Action Learning Units, to help in course correction and sharing information.

To ensure that the constructed and functional toilets are also used, behaviour change is key. Information, education and communication (IEC) efforts are increasingly important to change the people’s mindset and spreading knowledge about the adverse health impact of open defecation. In fact, a study shows a strong correlation between the use of IEC funds and the construction of toilets.

And there is more to the picture. Looking only at the number of constructed toilets, dismisses the whole sanitation chain, which includes containment, emptying, transport, treatment and disposal. A shift towards toilets that are used, maintained is needed.

The first thematic online discussion of the India Sanitation Coalition (ISC) which is hosted by the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance, aims at creating a broader understanding of what is needed to provide sustainable sanitation in India and to make India ODF in the context of Swacch Bharat Mission.

For this, the discussion will be structured along the following sub-topics:
  1. Policy and institutions: What has changed for SBM to work the way it especially with regard to funds utilisation and construction? Please suggest modifications for the period 2016-19 for SBM for sustainable ODF. Chairperson of the India Sanitation Coalition Naina Kidwai will initiate the discussion
  2. ODF: Is the existing definition provided by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation sufficient for sustainable and effective ODF? How can we ensure behaviour change leads to ODF and then ODF+? Sanchita from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council will initiate the discussion
  3. Sustainability: How can we ensure that the focus from constructing toilets is shifted towards using and maintaining toilets as well as the safe treatment of human faeces – taking into consideration the whole sanitation chain? UNICEF India’s sanitation specialist Sujoy Mojumdar will initiate the discussion
  4. Good practices: What are good practice examples of how SBM has effectively contributed to significantly improve sanitation in communities? WaterAid’s policy manager Siddhartha Das will initiate the discussion
To participate in the discussion, please post on the SuSanA Forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/259-on...usana-indian-chapter . Alternatively you can send your posts directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (this is a service only for registered SuSanA members. Please register here in case you are not yet a SuSanA member: www.susana.org/register )

Regular summaries and a synthesis of the discussion will be provided and disseminated publicly. We look forward to your active engagement.
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  • udayshankar
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Dear Nitya,

Congrats Nitya. Good to see the FIRST discussion on board. Wish you and your team all the best. I have been a member of Susana for quite some time now and I feel proud of being a part of the India Chapter as well. We need to tread a long path towards ODF and it is a great challenge. I have always been happy to be a part of this great effort.
My best wishes,
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  • sampark
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Dear Nitya,
Thanks to initiate such noble platform of India chapter in crucial period "On the way to clean India by 2019. I admire your step to float the online discussion forum in India. Many of the sanitation change agents working in different states don't know about the regional chapter.

Though the flagship programme of our PM "SBM(G) is challengable one, but people of India accepted this challenge to Make India "Claen India"

I am happy to be a part of it.
Premananda Biswal.
Executive Director.
B-30, BDA Duplex
Odisha, INDIA
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  • canaday
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Hi everyone,

I would like to invite members to have another look at this simple idea I previously posted for reducing Open Defecation (OD) in India and the rest of world:


Have there been detailed studies of why so many people choose to defecate in the open, even when they have access to toilets? I think one factor is that people are often asked to share toilets with lots of other people, so I suggest that our goal should always be that each family have its own toilet, for privacy, microbiological and social reasons, plus the clarity of who should clean it.

Has everyone seen this video of OD in Mumbai?

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
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  • am101
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Dear Members,
Nice to hear about Susan India Chapter.The major problem is achievement of ODF,Behaviour Change & Sustainability.I have scrutinised the work of many international,national organizations.The work is not upto the mark.Organizations focus on spending budgets and hiring consultants to exhaust their budgets.Our focus should be on real challenges if we cannot achieve behaviour change despite having huge budgets suggest that we are not having the right strategy.Some organiztions are not at all working they are focusing on best practices & organizing conferences.Each organization should focus on selected areas and show that they have achieved something.Some claim that their presentations to counterparts will bring all the changes.Some claim that monitoring & evaluation will bring about the change.But still I see whatever is claimed is much out of proportion to the achievement.Hence everyone should focus on solving the problems.Our budgets should also be focused on achieving the real solution.False claims & best practices should be avoided at any cost.Our objective is not to claim achievements but to attain sustainable behaviour change.
Best Wishes to India Chapter
Abhishek Mendiratta
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  • Aasmesh
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

I am happy to be a member of Susanna and be able to contribute as well learn from the inform and posts here.

I am just adding on to what Naina Kidwai posted.

While agreeing with Naina Kidwai on the progress that SBM has made, it still has a long way to go. As rightly pointed out, while the common person is aware about the need for sanitation and even the fact that government is providing subsidy for toilet construction, yet what perhaps is more critical, is its usage. Now under the SBM, there is also some allocation made to have a water connection. In the first instance, is that viable and functional, given the fact that even metropolitan cities like Bangalore also suffer from water crisis. A key concern certainly is behaviour change to ensure that all members in the family use the toilet.

The celebrities campaigning for sanitation certainly has given the mission the needed impetus. However, if attention could consistently focus on children as key change agents, perhaps this would add momentum to the initiative. Maintenance of the toilets is another area that deserves special attention as it has caste ramifications and therefore tends to get neglected. Another fact which then results in the non- use of toilets. Or the responsibility of maintaining the toilets becomes again an additional burden to the already weighing responsibilities of domestic chores on women

The effort to make use of SHGs as contractors for building toilets is being done in some areas, maybe this could be strengthened. It will help women to improve their economic status, build other skills of team management and leadership and help women to take on decision making roles. However, the responsibilities of the SHG collectives should not be limited to infrastructure related activity, but they should also be utilised for soft skills.

SHG collectives in Dalit hamlets and adivasi areas should be prioritised for this effort.This would help in bringing sanitation to the neglected areas and force the GPs to work through these SHG groups, rather than the affluent SHGs.
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  • nityajacob
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

I completely agree with Chris. Shared toilets just do not work for obvious reasons. The objective is to ensure each family has its own toilet, and uses it. This is the sanitation mission's goal, but we as sanitation workers need to supplement construction with use.
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)


Good thematic discussion here and I look forward to learning more about the situation in India as I read what people have to say! So thank you to the organisers.

I have a very basic question: what does the "Gramin" in the title stand for? I have the suspicion it has something to do with rural - if that's the case then is there also an urban Swacch Bharat Mission? Could you please explain to the novice?

Also, naturally I took a look at the Wikipedia page about the Swacch Bharat Mission:

What do you all think about this page? I see a need to improve it, particularly the section on toilets. Could the people involved in this thematic discussion help to improve it, e.g. by suggesting key literature that should be referenced?

And lastly, a question to Nitya, the main moderator of this online discussion: I might have missed it, but could you please introduce yourself a bit? Who do you work for, what's your background and how did you get to the SuSanA Forum? You could also provide more details in your forum profile to make it easier for us participants to know who's moderating this (see forum.susana.org/forum/categories/134-us...-with-video-tutorial ). Thanks.

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • nityajacob
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Hi Elisabeth

Gramin stands for rural. This discussion is focussed on the rural component of Swacch Bharat Mission. There is a separate urban mission that is trying to improve conditions in cities. We separated the two because the issues and audiences are completely different. We may have an urban discussion as well soon initiated by a member of the India Sanitation Coalition.

As you are aware, the India Chapter was started with SuSanA and the India Sanitation Coalition in May 2016 with support from Arghyam. I am the moderator for this forum based in New Delhi. I've worked with WaterAid as head of policy and other organizations on water and sanitation. From 2008 - 2012 I was the resource person and moderator for the UN Solution Exchange's Water Community, that was very similar to this forum. Now I am a consultant working on WASH issues based in New Delhi, India.

Regarding your Wikipedia page, we can post a request to the Forum. You could start a separate topic on it if you prefer.
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  • basicsanitations
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Feeling proud to be a part of this discussion. Great initiative by ISC. Hope to have meaningful deliberations which could help making SBM to a social movement than a government run programme. Still long way to go in achieving such a mammoth task in next three years.

Ajay Kumar
Ajay Kumar
Basic Sanitations Pvt. Ltd.
TF-10D, Vasant Square Mall,
Vasant Kunj,
New Delhi-110070
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  • pkjha
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

The National Level Monitoring (NLM) report for sanitation status in different states has been submitted to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation a few days back. The report is shocking. There is a serious gap between the actual number of toilets constructed and the number on the website of the Ministry for many states. Such gap for the states like Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur is over 41%. In other states like Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan such gaps are 19%, 23%, 27%, and 28% respectively. The Report also mentions that 48% of the households surveyed are not using latrines despite having one.
The findings may be useful for the planners/ Ministry/ state governments to seek course corrections, revamp programme design and improve monitoring of the Flagship Program-SBM.

Pawan Jha
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
Linked: linkedin.com/in/drpkjha
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  • Nripendra
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Re: On the way to a “clean India” – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin)

Dear All,

The implementation of Rural Sanitation Sector in Assam (India) is involved with different issues and the different reasons behind such issues might be as follows:
(a) The Govt. Approach on Rural Sanitation Sector was focused to implement as one of it’s flagship Programmes, initially called as ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’. Later on, it was renamed as ‘Nrimal Bharat Abhiyan’. The implementation involved a low incentive amount for one Individual Household Toilet in poor households. The reason behind such low incentive amount was to involve community to contribute and it was assumed that involvement of community contribution would make the toilets more sustained with a sense of ownership. But people’s perspective was different, as such that Toilets need to be constructed with the value as same as that of the incentive amount only, with nominal self contribution (as prescribed) in kinds, if not in cash. So the Toilets were constructed with nominal amounts sanctioned amount against each Toilet, with merely no value addition into it. In the beginning of Total Sanitation Campaign Project, Toilets were constructed with Rs. 625.00 per Toilet and this amount was later on increased to Rs. 1500.00 per Toilet, Rs. 3000.00 per Toilet, Rs. 4000.00 per Toilet and Rs. 6000.00 per Toilet, at different points of time [The quoted rates refer to that for Hilly & Difficult regions]. However, such increase was unable to cater for the need due to price escalation and so the options of construction of such Toilet could not satisfy peoples expectation.
It was expected that as a result of the Behavioural Practice / Change out of Toilet Usage, people (users) will come forward to repair or replace the original temporary construction, in due course of time. But it could not happen eventually. Although some Awareness generation activities were initiated to motivate the Community towards ODF status, but that could not build up the expected level of Awareness. People’s perception, which was prevailed among the community, was as such that – ‘Govt. prescribes for Individual Household Toilet and hence Govt. should bear the cost of construction of Toilet’.
In this connection, the issue of ghost Toilets or Defunct Toilets is quite important and it needs serious thinking / monitoring. Now the Sanitation Sector is restructured as “Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)” and hence the issue, which is even more important, is to take up urgently the course correction activities, to get the defunct Toilets repaired to put them in use again.
Very recently, the incentive amount for construction of IHHL has again be revised under SBM(G) to the tune of Rs. 12,000.00 per toilet, keeping in view of constructing an IHHL, which is permanent and complete in nature. So there is profound hope everywhere that the construction of IHHLs under SBM(G) will be taken up with an all out efforts from all Stakeholders and the approach is neither stapled with any Official as well as Technocratic crippling nor crumbled with any sort of syndrome of Politics.
(b) Another issue is the undesirable shifting of focus from ODF status to mere Cleanliness Drive and the ODF status linked with Environmental Cleanliness is not prioritised. The concern about the process of Cleanliness Drive ( SAFAI ABHIYAN ) in connection with Swachh Bharat Mission is that such SAFAI ABHIYANs are more publicity oriented. It should have started from own Homefront and also with a focus on the necessity of proper SYSTEM and it’s sustainability, instead of much hyped SAFAI Activities with Jharu (broom) in public places for the purpose of ‘PHOTO publicity’. Sometimes there are even the examples or the Call for a Mass Demonstration on taking up Activities for Cleanliness by personalities like Minister, leading personalities and their colleagues etc. and it might be a symbolic one to encourage the System, but can not perhaps be a part of the System and more importantly to involve the common PEOPLE. Such public show of SAFAI ABHIYAN with Jharu, would not yield any results, except the temporary relief just for few hours or one Day, until and unless, there is community involvement.
Simultaneously, the need of infrastructures for the System to work properly, is also a point of concern. What I mean to say --- suppose there is not even a Roadside Dustbin, then? And even if it is there and people are dumping their household solid waste in the Dustbin, then what next? Is there any effective system to collect the waste from the Dustbins for final disposal? Is there any well managed Disposal Site for the Solid waste?
So all such happenings in the name of implementing Swachh Bharat Mission, reflects merely the Desire of Public and the Political Agenda only. That's why, I would like to endorse a Call for an all out efforts to build PRACTICE and also the Politics of Professionalism to ensure Poilitical SKILL, alongwith the Political Agenda.
Even Sector EXPERTS emphasise for addressing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Issues through Safe Practices to facilitate improvement of quality of life.
(c) As per the field situation in Assam (India), Open Defecation is not that prevalent in Rural Areas. Rather, there is a large scale practice of using Toilet; but unfortunately they are mostly Insanitary Latrines [ called as ‘Kuchcha Latrine’ in Assam (India) ] and the condition of such ‘Kuchcha Latrine’ is as follows :
(i) Different forms are used as Pan, but without having any Water Seal in the form of Trap.
(ii) The excreta is transferred in most cases to an earthen pit ( either offset or onset type ). The offset pits are often covered with some locally available materials ( over which, sometimes an earth layer is also placed ). Once the pit gets filled up, a new pit is dug out for using as a pit and the filled pit is just abandoned.
(iii) In some cases, excreta is transferred to uncovered pit also.
(iv) In very few ( one or two ) places, excreta is left open eventually to be serviced by domestic animals.
Now the main challenge in our Rural Areas of Assam, is the conversion of such Insanitary Latrines into a Sanitary Latrines. So the focus should be not just to ensure use of Toilet, but to convince people to use SANITARY TOILET. Because, people remains complacent about their use of Toilet and the type of Toilet ( whether Sanitary or Insanitary ) is least bothered.
(d) There is total lack of Awareness / Education to understand the importance / likely benefits out of safe sanitation practices. So the approach for necessary awareness generation needs to be revitalised with renewed focus / thrust (with proper utilisation of IEC fund). Nowadays, people are using different household facilities like, TV, Refrigerator, Mobile Phones (even 2-3 Nos per household) etc. but for constructing / upgrading or repairing a Toilet, they are looking for Govt. incentive. ‘Sanitary Toilet’ is yet to be considered as a household PRIRITY, unlike in case of Water, Food, Home (beautiful?) etc.
(e) A detailed Performance Review is also a great need in present times to evaluate the constraints / drawbacks etc. Present system of M&E also needs revisit for strengthening.
(f) Moreover, the Issues related to Safe Water and Sanitation, simply do not have the same resonance during implementation and the situation becomes more worse prominently under Sanitation Sector. It is our failure that due to lack of WASH oriented focus and necessary convergence, the enabling environment is not ensured to find a better and committed workforce to work relentlessly for the Rural Sanitation Sector. Even, the necessary support is also missing from all fronts to endorse WASH as a priority. There are some stakeholders, who agree to accept the declaration "WASH for ALL". But when their turn comes to deliver, they just ignore "All for WASH".
There is even absence of serious efforts from implementation Stakeholders. This was even reflected with emphasis, in the Independence Day Address from our Prime Minister to the Nation on 15th Aug., 2014. Hon’ble Prime Minister emphasised for Swachhata (Cleanliness) and appealed to the implementation Stakeholders to discard ‘Mera Kya, Mujhe Kya (where is there my stake, what is for me)’ approach during implementation of ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’.
(g) Lastly and not the least, the political WILL and SUPPORT for establishing the desired mandate and enabling environment is also necessary with WASH based approach for sustained infrastructure and Usage and that too with renewed focus. However, the urgent need is for the Politics of Professionalism also, alongwith the Political WILL.
So let us pledge for “WASH for ALL::ALL for WASH”.
Thanking All.
Nripendra Kumar Sarma
Nagaon, Assam, India
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