Swachh Bharat Mission – Progress and Problems
What is SBM?
- On 2 October 2014, Prime Minister announced the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), which targets eradicating open defecation in India by 2019.
- SBM is a much-needed endeavour to improve sanitation standards in India.
- Globally, India had a worse record than even poorer regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Ghana, etc. in terms of open defecation.
What has been the progress?
- Between October 2014 and February 2016, the share of rural households defecating in the open went down by just over seven percentage points.
- The figure was still above the halfway mark.
- Both the extent of open defecation and their progress in eradicating it varies greatly across states.
What are the problems?
- Toilet Coverage - The states which recorded better toilet coverage also had a lower share of households contributing to open defecation.
- Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, which had higher individual toilet coverage, fared best in terms of rural sanitation.
- Odisha, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Telangana with less coverage were among the laggards.
- Usage - 6% of households in India reported open defecation despite having toilets.
- Access to Water - It is important in determining toilet use. 63% of the households that defecated in the open reported having toilets without running water.
- States with poor access to water in toilets have a higher share of households contributing to open defecation. e.g Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar
- Budget - The government set aside Rs 9,000 crore for rural sanitation in the 2016-17 Union budget but this has been accompanied by declining funds for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.
- This is unlikely to help eradicate open defecation.
- Caste-based discrimination in the provision of water also seems to be responsible for low toilet usage.
- Out of the 102 hand-pumps constructed in village in Rajasthan in the last 10 years, only two could be located in areas inhabited by lower-caste people.
- With a regular toilet requiring at least 20-30 litres of water in a day for smooth functioning, even obtaining a few litres every day is a struggle in these areas.
- Maintenance of toilets - It is critical to ensure usage.
What should be done?
- It is essential to meet all the above shortcomings to achieve Swacch Bharat.
- But it is to be remembered that eradicating open defecation would require much more than just meeting toilet construction targets.
- Spending on toilet construction has steadily grown but the spending on the expenditure for behaviour change campaign activities is much less. In October, it constituted just 0.8% of the spending on construction of toilets.
- Even that is limited to big billboards and advertisements.
- But it has more to do with person to person engagement.
- It is to be noted that the demand for toilets that will eliminate open defecation.
- Therefore demand for toilets has to be created at local level and then people need to be made aware of sanitation.
Category: Mains | GS – II | Social Justice