Response To ‘Many ODF Claims Premature; It Will Be A Work-In-Progress Long After 2019’

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation

Apr 22, 2018, 05:39 PM | Updated 05:39 PM IST

Swachh Bharat Mission
Swachh Bharat Mission

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to an article titled “Many ODF Claims Premature; It Will Be A Work-In-Progress Long After 2019” which appeared in the online version of your magazine on 19th April 2018.

We would like to point out certain inaccuracies in the article, and the corresponding facts, for your reference.

1. The article calls the Swachh Bharat Mission a top-down programme, and mentions that “it is not clear that most ODF schemes are driven from the bottom-up”

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission is a true people led movement, with behaviour change triggering based on community approaches to sanitation being the central tool to change mindsets
  • There exist over 4 lakh local grassroots level motivators called Swachhagrahis, and lakhs of teachers, ASHA workers, anganwadis, sarpanches and other natural leaders from within village communities are engaged in motivating people to build and use toilets and keep their villages clean
  • Over 20,000 of these Swachhagrahis from across the country recently mass-triggered the entire state of Bihar from 3-10 April, and were addressed by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at an event in Champaran.

2. The article says that the CM of Maharashtra contradicted himself when he announced that campaigns will be launched to encourage citizens to use toilets

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) focuses on not just making a village/district/State ODF, but on sustaining this ODF status and preventing slipbacks into old behavior,which has been a common trend with sanitation infrastructure from previous sanitation programs in the country
  • It is well-recognized not only in the country, but across the world that even post achieving ODF status, there needs to be continuous behavior change communication to ensure ODF sustainability

3. The article says that the PM started the campaign by cleaning with a broom and now the Swachh Bharat Mission has seen goal-posts changing when it started focusing on Open Defecation Free status

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission is divided into two parts: The Swachh Bharat Mission Urban which is managed at GoI by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) which is managed at GoI by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation
  • Cleanliness drives in cities is a key aspect of the former, and freedom from open defecation in villages is the primary goal of the latter. These are not “shifting goal posts” but two important facets of the same Mission.

4. The article says that the right to declare states or cities as OD-free should not rest with state governments or local bodies, but with third parties

  • Declaration of ODF is actually a democratic process, and villages are declared ODF by the citizens themselves at an “aamsabha”. After some due diligence, when all villages of the state have declared themselves ODF, is when the state is declared ODF. This is a bottom up approach and not decided at the state level.
  • These declarations are simultaneously verified by third parties at the district and state level. Further, third party verifications are also carried out from time to time at the national level.
  • The most recent of these was the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18, conducted by an Independent Verification Agency (IVA) under the World Bank support project to the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G), which found that 93.4% of the households in rural India who have access to a toilet, use it.
  • The NARSS also re-confirmed the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of 95.6% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF by various districts/states.

We will be happy to clarify any questions you may have, and share more details needed for a clearer understanding on this or any other aspects of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is a ministry of the Government of India.

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