(GIST OF YOJANA) Gram Panchayats: Beyond Odf [NOVEMBER-2019]

(GIST OF YOJANA)  Gram Panchayats: Beyond Odf


Gram Panchayats: Beyond Odf


The Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, which was not achieved by India, and the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - in particular SDG 6, which aims for universal water supply and sanitation - intend to provide similar aspirational frameworks which India has incorporated in its various national efforts, setting its own water and sanitation targets to be reached much sooner than 2030 as prescribed by the SDGs.

Lessons that Shaped Swachh Bharat

  • The confined focus on construction did not address the fact that even those who did receive toilets often ended up still defecating in the open, as some independent evaluations found. This was because while previous campaigns such as TSC did budge for information, education and communication (IEC) expenditures, they were underutilised and thus hardware (i.e. toilets) was significantly higher on the agenda than influencing the behaviours of the users.
  • However, incorporating behaviour change communication (BCC) frameworks into social programmes allows implementers to message directly that influences one’s sense of self-efficacy and agency to realize behaviour change. It also reinforces the importance of local community ownership over outcomes and sustains results at a larger-scale. This is why when the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on 2 October. 2014. The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of investing in a Jan Andolan, which eventually became the rural component, SBM-Gramin (SBM-G).
  • The SBM-G guidelines developed in 2014 incorporated some of the lessons learnt from prior implementation efforts. The document gave Gram Panchayats (GPs) a more integral role of making their own Open Defecation Free (ODF) plans and execute them. The GPs were encouraged to galvanise behaviour change as well as an allocation of funding earmarked specifically for the IEC activities. To troubleshoot past issues with inadequate supply to meet demand, GPs were also asked to work with trained local masons to ensure that toilet construction demands were met. To provide an enabling environment, GPs were advised to use any funding source including the 14th Finance Commission (FFC) allocations for WASH services including in schools and anganwadis.

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The approach to SBM-G itself was structured to allow more freedom in execution and a few unique advances included:

  • Strong public and political willpower publicised by the Prime Minister over the past five years.
  • Adequate funding that paid necessary incentives to off-set high capital cost for 100 million households - approximately Rs. 1.00,000 crore.
  • District-level flexibility in administering the necessary activities and campaigns to increase coverage, which allowed for creative and locally relevant initiatives to be tested out, especially around behaviour change campaigns seeking mobilising communities en masse.
  • Improving the ratio of financial investment in hardware with strong investment in software (i.e. behaviour change communication) with the community-level outcomes (like ODF status) - not single households in mind.
  • Utilising the Community Approaches to Sanitation (CAS) methodology, which evoked emotional reactions such as disgust to the practice of open defecation through facilitation and not proselytisation; and
  • Women-headed households and Scheduled Castes and Tribes prioritised in the programme, with specific mention and attached incentives in the guidelines.

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