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Sustaining ODF India

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  • Published
    5th Nov, 2020

In 2019 India achieved a historical milestone when it declared the country as open defecation free (ODF). SwachhBharal Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) Phase II now seeks to both build upon the achievements and sustain them, by investing in ODF-sustainability activities such as improved hygiene practices, solid and liquid waste management, and operation and maintenance of infrastructures.

The objectives of SBM(G) II are critical elements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on sanitation; target of SDG Goal 6 is "by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

SBM(G) Phase I (2014-2019): Success Factors

  1. Political Leadership: Close monitoring from the top level on a regular basis
  2. Public Finance: The Centre and state governments have spent estimated US$ 24 billions on SBM(G).
  3. Partnerships: Range of strategic partnerships were mobilised, amongst but not limited to the government ministries, development partners, media and influencers at all level.
  4. Peoples Participation and Community Mobilization: Community members wore mobilized as motivators, NigraniSamitis (vigilante/village committees), local champions, etc. making SBM(G) a truly people's movement
  5. Strong Capacity Development Support from Partners: Development partners such as UNICEF, World Dank, Tuta Trusts and others supported the capacity development of SBM(G) team, immensely contributing towards desired focus on behaviour change communication.
  6. Critical Role of Media: Mobilizing stakeholders ranging from faith lenders, political cadres, bureaucrats and communities at large was made possible through active engagement of media.

SBM (G)-II scope and focus:

A budget of Rs 140,881 crores has been approved for the five years (2019-20 to 2024-25) programme period. Two key components of the programme are highlighted below.

  1. Sustaining the ODF: SBM(G)II intends to ensure that all remaining households get access to toilets, existing toilets are retrofitted to meet safety/technical standards,
  2. Sustainable Solid and Liquid Waste Management: The solid and liquid waste management component focuses on: a) bio-organic waste management, b) plastic waste management, c) liquid waste management, and d) faecal sludge management (FSM). For the FSM, the SBM(G) II guidelines suggest districts to prepare District FSM Plan.
  3. Role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRls): The provision for the use of 15th Finance Commission grants to/ by local bodies to fund SBM(G)-II initiatives through convergence at the local level. SBM (G) II recommends establishment of a District SBM Committee, under the Chair of the District Panchayat (ZilaParishad) with the Co-chair of District Collector/Magistrate.
  4. IEC and Role of Media: Five percent of budget (Rs.7,040 crores) is earmarked for range of social and behavioral change communication strategies and related capacity development work.

Framework for Empowering the PRI’s

  1. Making sanitation a part of the GPDP framework: As envisaged in the SBG(G}II guidelines and the Constitution of India, GPs are required to prepare inclusive Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs) so that they are implemented with priority and ODF is sustained. Institutional capacity of the states needs to be strengthened.
  2. Engagement of Block and District Panchayats: The District Panchayats and Block Panchayats should have critical role in strengthening and supporting Gram Panchayats within their jurisdiction, in planning and implementation of the sanitation plan. In addition, the PRls can be the main vehicle to ensure sustained engagement of Safaikarmis, Swachhagrahis and NigraniSamitis.
  3. Accountability framework for PRI’s: District Panchayats to Lead the district level planning process,Block Panchayats (PS) to Support GPs in implementation of their GPDP linked sanitation plan and ensure robust monitoring of the outcomes at the Block level and Gram Panchayats to Ensure preparation of inclusive GPDPs and implement the SBM(G)II programme as part of the GPDPs.
  4. Engagement of Media as a Tool for Downward Accountability: Role of media is crucial, it could be threefold: i) sharing information on various aspects of SBM(G} II and entitlements of communities, ii) supporting PRls by sharing emerging best practices from across the country for replication with or without adaptions, and iii) identification of gaps and delays inprogramme implementation and sharing the same with wider public so that the PRls are held accountable to their citizens.

Way Forward

  • Accountability framework for PRls:PRls need a clearly defined institutional platform to be able to deliver on their mandates
  • Critical role of Media: Media can be the agency of the marginalized communities, and can promote transparency by communicating on the citizen's entitlements, avenues and good practices.
  • Partnerships and Capacity Building of PRls and Communities: Development partners, civil society, private sector and academic institutions need to be considered and engaged at all levels.

Verifying, please be patient.

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