More Indian households today have mobile phone than toilets. Over 500 million people in rural India continue to defecate in the open. This is a huge problem, especially since 1 in 10 deaths in India is due to improper sanitation. Poor hygiene and sanitation also disproportionately affect young children, which makes it vitally important to address this issue as quickly and efficiently as possible. The loss of human capital is deafening – and these deaths are preventable.
To help address these issues, the World Bank has approved a $1.5 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) loan to support the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission. Specifically, the project will support the SBM-Gramin, or rural component of the campaign.
80 percent of Indians who lack access to proper sanitation live in rural areas.
Image for representation only. Source: Wikipedia
“This project, aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Swachh Bharat initiative of the government, will result in significant health benefits for the poor and vulnerable, especially those living in rural areas,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India.
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Funds will be allocated to states and state agencies on a performance-based system. The parameters against which states will be measured will be their capacity to reduce open defecation and implement solid and liquid waste management processes in villages. These changes will have to be such that they can be maintained over the long-term. Progress towards key indicators will be assessed and verified independently.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) will oversee and coordinate the program and its implementation in states. World Bank funds will also be used to train MDWS personnel and for capacity building.
In addition, the Bank will provide $25 million in technical assistance to select states to aid in implementing community-led change that will sustain positive behaviours related to sanitation and hygiene.
“India has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in pursuing the ambitious SBM [Swachh Bharat Mission] campaign and embracing the focus on behaviour to complement the construction of toilets,” said Annette Dixon, World Bank vice-president for the South Asia Region.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched in October, 2014. It’s key objectives include:
- Eliminating or reducing open defecation
- Constructing toilets and monitoring latrine use
- Changing public attitudes and mindsets to encourage good sanitation behaviours
- Establishing solid and liquid waste management processes to keep villages clean
- Ensuring water supply to all households by 2019