Clarification on media reports regarding SBM(G) progress
Some recent reports in certain sections of the media have raised questions about certain aspects of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin. They have quoted, and at times misquoted, national surveys to infer misleading findings. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation would like to clarify these issues raised in the factually incorrect and misleading reports:
Claim: Swachh Bharat Mission is essentially a toilet construction-led programme, and does not focus on toilet usage
Facts: The metric “Open Defecation Free”, which was defined in 2015 shortly after the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), is essentially a measure of toilet usage. Unless every member of every household of a village uses a toilet for defecation, the village cannot be declared ODF. (Latest ODF figures may be found on the SBM dashboard: sbm.gov.in/sbmdashboard/)
Sanitation coverage in rural India has gone up from 42% to 64% since the launch of SBM, and the Rapid Survey of Swachhta Status of the NSSO conducted in May-June 2015 says that 95.6% of people who had toilets, used them.
Claim: There is no independent monitoring of the SBM, resulting in the non-disbursement of the World Bank loan amount, which is adversely affecting the implementation of the SBM.
Facts: There are, in fact, several independent verification mechanisms in place for SBM. The NSSO carried out the Rapid Survey of Swachhta Status in May-June 2015. The Quality Council of India is presently carrying out a similar exercise covering nearly 100,000 households. Additionally, the Ministry has instituted National Level Monitors who verify all ODF districts, with a special focus on the villages on the banks of the Ganga. All of these are in addition to the Independent Verification Agency (IVA) which has been hired as part of the World Bank loan.
It is also important to note that the World Bank loan agreement is only a small component of the overall budget available for Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)– less than 10% of the total projected government outlay (Centre and States). It must also be clarified that the Bank loan is included in the overall budget and is not an additionality, and hence it has no adverse financial bearing on SBM progress.
Finally, the loan agreement was signed only on March 30, 2016, and not in 2015 as claimed in some reports.
Claim: A large percentage of self-declared ODF villages remain unverified.
Facts: There is a multi-stage verification system at the district and state level. The SBM-G guidelines recommend that a village be verified within three months of declaration of ODF. Of the 2 lakh ODF declared villages, nearly 1.5 lakh have been declared ODF only in the last year. Over 1 lakh villages have already been verified, and the Ministry is laying a strong emphasis on the States for verifying the remaining villages at the earliest. Completion of verification of all villages which have been ODF for more than three months is now a pre-condition for release of funds to States from the next second installment onwards of 2017-18.
Claim: Information, education and communication (IEC) is neglected under SBM as the IEC budget spends are low.
Facts: Behaviour change through IEC is the cornerstone of SBM. There is a major focus on IEC at the national, state and district levels. The Centre spends 3% of the Union SBM budget on IEC, while the States are supposed to spend 5% of their respective State+Centre budgets on IEC. As per a recent order issued by the Ministry, spending the stipulated amount by States on IEC will be a pre-condition for release of funds to States from the next second installment onwards of 2017-18.
That said, it is important to realize that apart from the money spent by states on IEC, the Ministry and States mobilize tremendous support from development partners and carry out IEC activities through them, which don’t reflect in the official IEC spending. It must also be emphasized that change in deep-rooted habits is not merely a function of amounts spent on IEC, but is brought about by wholesome behaviour change communication efforts.