The United Nations (UN) estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world lack access to adequate sanitation of whom 526 million defecate in the open. Chris Williams from the UN's Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) gives us the India perspective on funding models that tie in with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. What are some key WSSCC milestones in India WSSCC has had a long and deep connection with India since the meeting 25 years ago in New Delhi, which led to its formation. Leading Indian practitioners and policy makers have played an active role in the evolution of the council and formed a core part of its membership. The council enjoys trusted relations with national and state governments and civil society in India, despite the absence of country offices. In addition, WSSCC has been keenly involved in policy, operational guidelines, capacity building and monitoring of government initiatives to increase access to improved sanitation and hygiene behaviours. The Council provided support through the Total Sanitation Campaign (1992-2002) and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (2002-2014), building a trusted relationship with sector stakeholders and contributing to sector knowledge, capacity and policy. WSSCC has also played a leading role in the development of the SACOSAN as a government and civil society driven regional sanitation meeting. [caption id="attachment_8874" align="alignleft" width="309"]
Credits-JavierAcebal[/caption] Regarding field operations so essential to the practical realisation of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), WSSCC has been instrumental through the Global Sanitation Fund in working with State Governments with high open defecation rates to establish the modalities for implementing collective behaviour change at scale. In 2012, the governments of Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam together with the council and a nascent Programme Coordination Mechanism developed a country programme proposal to increase access to improved sanitation and bring about behaviour change. As of July 2015, the programme has empowered 2.4 million people to live in open defecation villages, and 800,000 people to gain access to improved sanitation. Importantly, government officials at State, District, Block and Gram Panchayat have fully internalised the methods of collective behaviour change, and WSSCC has been approached by the leaders of the SBM to expand to eight districts within Bihar. This has been an important recognition of WSSCC's success towards an open-defecation free Bihar. What are some of your targets for the country in the coming years [caption id="attachment_8875" align="alignleft" width="313"]
Credits-JavierAcebal[/caption] The advent of the SBM, launched in October 2014 by Prime Minister Modi, warrants a call to action to all organizations committed to ending the practice of open defecation and ensuring equal access to sanitation and hygiene. Therefore, WSSCC's targets are in line with supporting the SBM, which has impacted our work in the region positively. Building upon the trust and historical ties to the Council, the Government of India called upon WSSCC along with other development partners, to contribute to the design of the SBM and its initial guidelines. Subsequently WSSCC has been asked to co-facilitate national workshops to define, measure, verify ODF status which contributed to the growing awareness of the importance of behaviour change across whole administrative units versus mere toilet construction. In July 2015, the Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Water and Sanitation requested the Executive Director to establish a “light footprint” in India to enhance its ongoing support to SBM. WSSCC in consultation would henceforth combine policy support, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, and rapid action learning together with its support to select State governments through direct implementation mechanisms for ending open defecation and increasing access to improved sanitation using methods of collective behaviour change. Have you noted a growing social consciousness around sanitation in the country
Yes. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the second most populated country in the world currently faces serious and deep rooted challenges to the well-being, prosperity and very survival of its 1.2 billion citizens. Responsible for 60 per cent of the total open defecation (OD) taking place in the world, the deleterious impacts of poor sanitation and hygiene on health, productivity and well-being extend well beyond the country's borders and are nothing short of a global emergency. For the very first time a national campaign of this magnitude was officially launched on 2 October 2014 in New Delhi, by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who decided to make it his government's flagship programme. All forms of media have been harnessed to spread the word and the private sector has joined hands to set up a financing mechanism in addition to the Swachh Bharat of 0.5 per cent levied on all services that are currently taxed. Touted to be the world's largest sanitation campaign and programme, the SBM campaign covers both rural and urban India, and is aimed at making India clean and open defecation free (ODF) by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma. How far has the Clean India Mission impacted your work in the region The Clean India Mission comes with a true sense of urgency that has galvanised all development partners and brought many new actors into the sanitation arena. It has also been pitched as a collective national effort, with clear measurable targets, a sophisticated advocacy machine and deep financing. The challenge of changing mind sets is a complex one that requires partnerships, creativity and skills. These are challenges that beset the sanitation and hygiene sector globally and India is being keenly watched in the region and beyond for lessons that will have global relevance. The spotlight on sanitation and hygiene has also generated multiple investments, research and studies that will undoubtedly strengthen the sanitation sector overall. Some key areas where India is a leader in the sector is an early move to address issues of faecal sludge management, sustainable toilet design, affordable supply chains and innovative behaviour change communication. WSSCC is both a contributor and apprentice in this collective endeavour by the sector, seeking to systematically share lessons across the region but also wider to Africa and beyond. What more can be done at a policy level towards ensuring basic sanitation for all [caption id="attachment_8877" align="alignleft" width="254"]
Credit-NRCM India[/caption] The Clean India mission has benefitted from advocacy and commitment at the highest level backed by financial creativity and support from the bulk of India's 29 states. The policy dialogue is forward looking highlighting consistently the need for achieving open defecation free administrative units- blocks, districts, whole states so that the benefits of a clean environment are widely felt, appreciated and sustained. The mission goes beyond toilets to also press for solid waste management, personal hygiene and clean open public spaces. The country's challenge is staggering- but resources and the political will to overcome this issue have been firmly deployed. At the policy level the challenge will be threefold: i. To move beyond household toilets and personal behaviour to address public spaces systematically across the entire country. These include all transport hubs and lines (rail, bus, roads); all public institutions- health and education; all government buildings; marketplaces- formal and informal; prisons and detention centres and the workplace. This is critical if standards of cleanliness, particularly hygiene are to be established and expected by every Indian- in a village, town or big city. ii. Target driven infrastructure approaches have been proven to be high risk and unsustainable. Policy discussions, expenditure reviews and training need to resist the temptation to cite numbers - at the input and output level seeking instead all pervasive changes in mind sets and ways of living. A social transformation where cleanliness is expected and received. iii. The current focus on the end line of 2019 is understandable but also dangerous as knowledge, learning, monitoring and evaluation are narrowly interpreted for the purpose of accelerating progress against the national target rather than also thinking deeply about sustaining a radical and transformative nationwide change in behaviour. Has there been progress on finding sustainable funding models Current efforts are aimed at eliminating the sanitation burden of almost 600 million open defecators as well as making a dent in those who need better more hygienic and sustainable sanitation. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed 100 per cent deduction for contributions, to the Swachh Bharat Kosh in the current Financial Budget. The current levy is excess of 0.5 per cent on all taxable services-which generated $560 million in 2015-2016. The India Sanitation Coalition was set up to bring organisations and individuals together to find sustainable solutions for sanitation through a platform for corporates, civil society groups, government, financial institutions, media, donors/bilaterals/multilaterals, experts etc. The India Sanitation Coalition aims at bringing together all actors in the sanitation space to drive sustainable sanitation through a partnership mode. Attracting financing and technical skills from the private sector, it offers a parallel funding mechanism to SBM's in built centre-state grants for sanitation. Sustainable funding models must also be understood in parallel with government efforts to ensure financial inclusion through micro banking, micro credit, direct transfers and reduction in leakages. India has a long history of financial inclusion services which have been further enhanced through a combination of better identification, suitable products and affordable credit. How has the India Support Unit enhanced WSSCC's work The India Support Unit (ISU) was launched in late October 2015. Its first six months of operation was a critical component of WSSCC's work to amplify its support to the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and to bolster WSSCC's Global Sanitation Fund supported work. The unit aims to enhance WSSCC's normative and implementation work to improve access and use, equality, knowledge and collaboration in sanitation and hygiene. The unit in collaboration with Geneva based staff supports government of India and a few states on policy and monitoring guidelines, capacity building and rapid action learning. Chris Williams is the executive director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), an international organisation of the United Nations that improves access to sanitation, hygiene and water supply in Africa and Asia. Established in 1990, the organisation combines knowledge management, advocacy and fund management.