The World Bank has approved a $1.5 billion loan to support the Central government's flagship cleanliness drive Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), which aims to ensure all citizens have access to improved sanitation - such as a toilet or latrine with a focus on changing behaviour - in ending the practice of open defecation by 2019.
The project will support SBM's rural component known as SBM-Gramin (SBM-G), over a five-year period using a new performance-based program which links funds directly to results, ensuring that benefits are delivered to the people in need - more than 60 per cent of India's rural population.
"One in every 10 deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation. And studies show that low-income households bear the maximum brunt of poor sanitation. This project, aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Swachh Bharat initiative of the government, will result in significant health benefits for the poor and vulnerable, especially those living in rural areas," states Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India. "Incentivising good performance by states and the focus on behavioural changes are two important components of this project," he adds.
The SBM-G programme focuses on ensuring usage of toilets along with their construction. States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards. Performance will be measured against the states' ability to reduce open defecation, sustaining their open defecation free (ODF) status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas. The financing mechanism promotes the leadership of the states, which will have flexibility in innovating and adopting their own delivery models.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) will play the overseeing and coordinating role for the programme and support the participating states. Funds will also be used to develop the capacity of MDWS in programme management, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.
The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 18 years including a grace period of five years.
The World Bank will also provide a parallel $25-million technical assistance to build the capacity of select state governments in implementing community-led behavioural change programmes targeting social norms to help ensure widespread usage of toilets by rural households.
Today, of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally, more than 750 million live in India, with 80 per cent living in rural areas. More than 500 million of the rural population in India continue to defecate in the open, suffering from preventable deaths, illness, stunting, harassment and economic losses.