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Principles for a Swatchh Bharat Mission

Blog Post1 min read

For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation a “Swachh Bharat Mission” will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019.

– Address to the Parliament – June 2014 – President Pranab Mukherjee

The need for sanitation is of utmost importance. Although the Central Government is providing resources within its means, the task of total sanitation cannot be achieved without the support of all. The Government intends to cover every household by total sanitation by the year 2019, the 150th year of the Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi through Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan.

— Budget Speech – July 2014 – Honourable Minister Arun Jaitley

The Government of India has announced a new Swatchh Bharat Mission, or Mission for a Sanitary India. The details of the Mission are currently under development. We recommend the following five principles:

1. Reducing open defecation is the top priority. Although there are many benefits of a cleaner India, it is open defecation which kills hundreds of thousands of children each year and limits the development of those who survive. Open defecation shall be the top priority of the Mission.

2. Central measurement of latrine use. Recognizing that any goal that is not measured is not achieved, the Swach Bharat Mission shall establish an independent, accountable mechanism of monitoring latrine use, not latrine construction.

3. Achieving latrine use requires promoting behaviour change. Information, education, and latrine use promotion shall be the cornerstones of any successful Mission to end open defecation. Officers shall not be asked how many latrines they constructed; instead, officers shall be held to account for what they did to change minds and behaviour and to promote latrine use.

4. Latrine use requires a ground staff. Rural sanitation teams at the block and district level require a new, dedicated staff responsible only for behaviour change and promotion of latrine use, not for latrine construction. Officers shall be rewarded for trying and learning from new ideas, whether they succeed or fail.

5. Learn from doing and learn from the best. The Government shall lead a programme of learning from successes, failures, and challenges of attempts to change behaviour and to promote latrine use. The Mission shall learn from the experiences of the Pulse Polio campaign, from leaders in the field of marketing, and from experts on rural sanitation behaviour.


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