Swachh Bharat and its success

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Context: The latest National Statistical Office (NSO) survey on sanitation debunked the claims of an open defecation-free or ODF India made by the Centre’s flagship Swachh Bharat scheme, although it did record great progress in toilet access and use in rural areas.

Relevance:
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS II-

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, education, Human Resources.

Swachh Bharat scheme:

  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched in 2014 with the aim of ensuring a ‘clean India’ by 2nd October 2019 as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th Birth Anniversary.
  • The Mission Coordinator for SBM is Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS).
  • Objectives:
    • Eliminate open defecation.
    • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour-flush toilets.
    • Eradication of manual scavenging.
    • 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste.
    • To bring about a behavioral change in people with regards to healthy sanitation practices.
    • Create awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
    • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
    • To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.

Open Defecation Free (ODF): Elimination of fecal-oral transmission, that is, no visible feces found in the environment, village, every household as well as public/community institutions using safe technology options for disposal of feces.

SBM ODF+ and ODF++ Protocol:

  • The SBM ODF+ protocol focuses on sustaining community/ public toilet usage by ensuring their functionality, cleanliness, and maintenance.
  • The SBM ODF++ will focus on achieving sanitation sustainability by addressing a complete sanitation value chain, including safe containment, processing, and disposal of fecal sludge and septage.

Details about the survey:

  • The latest National Statistical Office (NSO) survey on sanitation debunked the claims of an open defecation-free or ODF India made by the Centre’s flagship Swachh Bharat scheme, although it did record great progress in toilet access and use in rural areas.
  • The survey was carried out between July and December 2018.
  • On October 2, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the whole country was ODF with complete access to toilets.
  • In the first week of October 2018, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Grameen) said 25 States and Union Territories had been declared ODF, while toilet access across the country touched 95%.
  • Large States which had been declared ODF — that is, 100% access to toilets and 100% usage — even before the survey began included Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. Others that were declared ODF during the survey included Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The survey showed that about 71% of rural households had access to toilets at a time when the Centre was claiming 95% had access.

                                 

Concerns:

  • According to the NSO, almost 42% of the rural households in Jharkhand had no access to a toilet at the time of the survey. In Tamil Nadu, the gap was 37%, followed by 34% in Rajasthan.
  • In Gujarat, which was one of the earliest States declared ODF, back in October 2017, almost a quarter of all rural households had no toilet access, the NSO data showed.
  • The other major States listed also had significant gaps: Karnataka (30%), Madhya Pradesh (29%), Andhra Pradesh (22%) and Maharashtra (22%).
  • The NSO said 28.7% of rural households had no toilet access at the time of the survey.
  • The NSO noted that there may be respondent bias in the reporting of access to latrine as the question on benefits received by the households from government schemes was asked prior to the question on the access of households to a latrine.

Positives:

  • The 71% access to toilets was still a significant improvement over the situation during the last survey period in 2012 when only 40% of the rural households had access to toilets.
  • The NSO’s statistics on toilet usage were also encouraging. It said 95% of people with access to toilets in rural India used them regularly, indicating that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s efforts to change behavior had borne fruit.
  • Only 3.5% of those with toilet access in rural India said they never used them.



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