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Until 2014, 600 million people (approx. 60 % of the world’s open defecators) were practicing open defecation across India. Of these, 550 million were in rural India. This has changed quite dramatically. The open defecation number has dwindled to 100 million #SwachhBharat
As many as 5,20,000 villages, 530 Districts and 25 States and UTs are open defecation free (ODF). Rural India is poised to become ODF by October 2, 2019.This was unthinkable a few years ago but it happened. How did it happen? Any lessons to be learnt from this success?
1. No scheme can succeed sans political support. The Swachh Bharat not only had political support, it was driven by the PM himself. This made a huge difference.
2. .Belief in the achievability of the goal at each level of governance and delivery.
3. The PM-CM-DM-VM (Prime Minister-Chief Minister-District Magistrate-Village Motivator) model worked. This connect was consciously created. It worked wonders.
4.The State governments were taken into confidence through massive engagement with them.
5.Secretary Parameswaran Iyer set the pace by not “dictating” terms from Delhi but by travelling down to each State to interact intensively with the Chief Secretaries & field functionaries.
6.The visits were not limited to the State headquarters but entailed going down to the villages to get a better understanding of ground realities that constituted very useful input in formulating policies. This was indeed a game changer.
7. The top bureaucracy went to the villages to understand the ground realities. Other schemes too need this sort of commitment. When the senior most civil servant moves out, those below will do so as well.
8. Lessons to be learnt: Most of the senior civil servants prefer to carry out their tasks in the comfort of their rooms in Delhi. They need to move out where there is action. such visits not merely convey a purpose, the top officials can get a feel of the ground realities.
They will also be benefited by extremely useful feedback. Corrective steps can be taken both at the policy level as well as in operations. The disconnect that exists between the policy makers and the field can be bridged.
9.Effective communication (as distinct from publicity) is imperative to reach out to the beneficiaries. A lot of time gets spent on publicity to please a “select audience” and these campaigns are launched in places that are beyond the reach of the beneficiary.
10. Swachch Bharat made an effort to influence the mind and behaviour of the beneficiary. Publicity followed. Talking was done at an appropriate place and appropriate time and, more importantly, was accompanied with “walking”.
11. A WHO study released in August 2018 reported that Swachh Bharat would have led to a saving of around 3,00,000 lives by 2019 and around 1,50,000 lives would be saved annually thereafter.
12.UNICEF in its report, “The Financial and Economic Impact of SBM in India (2017)” has estimated that an ODF village in rural India makes substantial savings every year.
13.The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has released a study that shows significant improvements in diarrhea prevalence and stunting among children in ODF districts, compared to otherwise similar non-ODF districts.
The above thread is based on an article in HinduBusinessLine by Shri Anil Swarup titled "Explaining Swacch Bharat's success"
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