Much has been written about Swachh Bharat since its launch in 2014. Advocates of the scheme rightly point to the number of toilets constructed and the number of villages that are declared open defecation free— over 8 crore toilets and 5 lakh villages respectively—whereas critics point to the low usage of the toilets constructed and question the truth behind open defecation free claims.
2017 Swachh Survekshan Survey –
- The 2017 Swachh Survekshan survey conducted by the Quality Council of India reports that 62% of rural households now have a toilet. This is an increase of over 20 percentage points since 2014.
- The survey concludes that more than 90% of the individuals who had access to toilets were using them.
Ground reality –
The lengthy queues, lack of water supply and the poor communication in remote and tribal populations have all resulted in low uptake in areas where it is needed the most.
Flaw with the policy –
Policymakers hoped that once enough toilets were built to declare India open defecation free, it would continue to remain so. This failed to take into account that, unlike eradicating smallpox or polio, eliminating open defecation isn’t a one-off. To truly make India open defecation free requires a sustainable change in societal mindset and behaviour.
What can be done?
- To change the behaviour, psychologists suggest to focus on spreading rational knowledge (germ theory), having explicit action plans (such as personal and political commitments to change) and using human emotions of pride and shame.
- Community led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme is one such approach. It promotes the mobilisation of local communities to talk openly about, appraise and analyse their defecation practices.
- Emphasis must be put on ensuring proper training, to prevent facilitators from using tactics of public shaming and coercion.
- To mitigate open defecation, a simple driver would be the building of public toilets in fields which people already use to defecate openly.
- Leveraging India’s recent growth in mobile connectivity and growth in constructed household toilets, incentive programs for increased latrine use can also issue text message reminders, scheduled and framed to promote latrine usage at the same time and place each day.
- Initiatives creating an annual ritual, aligned with prevalent religious beliefs, when a village is declared open defecation free can ensure change is celebrated and thus, sustained in the long run.
Way forward –
For India to permanently eradicate open defecation, Swachh Bharat Mission must –
- Provide and maintain the infrastructure needed to aid toilet use.
- Motivate people to change behaviour towards toilet use.
- Harness cues and automatic habits to drive positive behaviour.
Source – Livemint
We provide quality UPSC Coaching in Chandigarh. For all your queries regarding the class structure, material and mentorship for our programmes concerned with PCS Coaching in Chandigarh, HCS Coaching in Chandigarh and similar civil services coaching in Chandigarh region and beyond, you can contact us directly at Raj IAS Academy to avail professional quality IAS Coaching in Chandigarh. Raj IAS Academy wishes you all the best for your preparation.