Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a campaign in India that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring toilet use.
The SBM has been divided into two components –
- Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM-U)
- Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM-G)
The government is aiming to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India.
Suggestions for better implementation:
-> The components of the problem in urban areas are very different from those in rural areas. A case study (Annual Status of Education Report) done in 2016 revealed that as many as 96.5% of rural elementary government schools had toilets, but more than one in four toilets were dysfunctional or locked. So importance should be given to the upkeep, maintenance and sustainability of these community infrastructures.
-> Periodic assessment about toilet construction and success at panchayat level with social audit and rewarding panchayats for making villages ODF.
-> The focus of the SBM-G should be on behavioural change; the guidelines also require that 8% of the funds be allocated for information, education and communication activities.
-> Swachh Survekshan is a ranking exercise to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner. It should be implemented successfully every year.
-> Making potable water available, building water infrastructure so that toilets are used for defecation purpose and not as storehouse.
-> Empowerment holds the key to change, but that would depend on breaking caste barriers through education and economic uplift.
-> Compensation sanctioned for the families of those who died in the course of the humiliating and hazardous work should be paid immediately.
-> Preventing construction of unsanitary latrines and demotion of existing unsanitary latrines => preventing manual scavenging (poor impact on health and dignity) => abolition of manual scavenging must be linked to SBM.
-> Using SBM for furthering social reforms like prohibition of alcoholism, domestic violence etc.
-> Modernising the sewer lines and septic tanks and investing money and energy on smart techniques of sanitation.
Achieving ODF is the collective responsibility of the entire nation, not just the government. We have now reached a stage where the need for BCC (Behaviour change communication) has been recognised. Turning a large and populous country like India around is not an easy task. However, in less than three years we see that India is already course correcting and with the momentum building, the pace of change going forward will be much faster.