[Policy & Planning] Transition from Nirmal Bharat to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) previously called Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was initiated by the Government in 1999. The main goal of the program was to eradicate the practice of open
defecation by 2017. It was a demand-driven and people-centered sanitation program. It focused not only on building infrastructure for sanitation, but also on changing cultural norms to prevent open-defecation. It provided monetary assistance to BPL families, schools, and anganwadis, among others, to construct their own toilets. It also focused on Information, Education, and communication to change the attitude of the people towards sanitation. To build ownership among the community regarding the program ‘Nirmal Gram Puraskar’, monetary assistance and public recognition was given to those gram panchayats which achieved an ‘open defecation free’ status. Due to efforts of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, access to toilets in rural areas has increased from nearly 33 percent to 41 percent, between Census 2011 and NSSO survey of 2013.

To take the practice of sanitation to the next level by removing bottlenecks that were hindering progress, the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, which primarily aimed at rural sanitation has been restructured and merged with Swachh Bharat Mission, which focuses on sanitation not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas. Swachh Bharat Mission has two sub-Missions - Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). The Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry will implement the programme in rural areas, while the Ministry of Urban Development will do the same in urban areas.

While the ‘Swatch Bharat Mission’ was announced by the president in the joint session of the parliament in June 2014, the program was launched on 2nd October 2014, by the Prime Minister (PM) as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. His vision of Clean India – Swachh Bharat which still remained unfulfilled is planned to be accomplished through this program. It’s a five year long campaign from 2014–2019. The program is slated to culminate in the year 2019 which is also Gandhiji’s 150th birthday.

The Swachh Bharat Mission aims to:

• create sanitation facilities for all and  eliminate completely open defacation by 2019;
• build ownership among community. Thus,  solid and liquid waste management would be done through gram panchayats, whereas public toilets and community sanitary complexes through Public Private Partnership (PPP); and
• triggering of communities for behavioural change and usage of toilets shall be given top priority to ensure increased demand, which will lead to use of assets such created. Effective use of technology and media shall be done to communicate the message of the benefits of safe sanitation and hygiene.

Moving from a community-led program of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, the goal of Swachh Bharat is to make it a mass movement, where people should neither litter nor let others to do so. A ‘Clean India’ pledge was administered to all countrymen, by the PM, to promise that every individual would remain committed to cleanliness and devote about 100 hours of time every year towards the cause of cleanliness, and they would inspire another 100 people to be part of the mission. The campaign is India's biggest ever cleanliness drive. The framers of the program are linking it with patriotism (rashtrabhakti) and commitment to public health so that more and more people are inspired to be part of it.

Swachh Bharat is proposed to be achieved through:-

a)  coverage of all rural households with  individual  household  latrines, cluster toilets, and construction of school and anganwadi toilets in all Gram Panchayats; construction of  public & community toilets in urban areas,

b)  creation of enhanced demand, convergent action through various agencies and stake-holders with triggering through enhanced IEC, Informal Education and Communication;

c)  strengthening of implementation and delivery mechanisms;

d)  monitoring  outputs (construction) and  outcomes (use) at the Gram Panchayat as well as household levels.

Funding for these new initiatives will be through the following:

• budgetary allocations;

• contributions to the Swachh Bharat Kosh;

• through commitments under Corporate Social responsibility (CSR); and

• funding assistance from multilateral sources.

Open defecation

It is the practice of defecating outside and in public, in and around the local community, as a result of ingrained cultural patterns or having no access to toilets, latrines, or any kind of improved sanitation.

WHO and UNICEF state that about 611 million people in urban areas lack toilets world-wide (around/over the world); whereas number goes up to, nearly 2001 million in rural areas. However, these figures do not include the Slums, shanty-towns, and illegal refugee colonies; which mean that urban sanitation needs are far more acute than reported. Overall 1 billion people around the world are forced to practice open defecation.

Even it has been found, the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan promoting rural sanitation,  both, by providing means to create facility, and promoting the initiative by incentivizing in the form of Nirmal Gram Puraskar, could not bring any drastic change in this behavioural pattern.

Impact of open defecation on health and society

Open defecation pollutes the ground water as well as land resources including agricultural products. Every minute about 1.1 million liters of human excrement enters the river Ganga. These pathogens then enter the human body either through food or water mixed with feces.

Open defecation is a leading cause of diarrheal death among children. Diarrhea is the third largest killer of children under five, in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also leads to typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio, pneumonia, fatal worm infestation, trachoma, stunted physical development, and impaired cognitive function. According to the World Health Organization, an average of Rs. 6,500 per person is lost in India due to lack of cleanliness and hygiene. Thus the Swacch Bharat Mission has with it, not only promise of cleanliness and improved health, but also of improved economic conditions.

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