New Delhi: The World Bank will spend $1.5 billion over five years to support the government’s sanitation drive in rural India as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, that aims to end open defecation by 2019.

A performance-based programme will link release of funds to results achieved, the bank said on Wednesday.

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 status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas.

The Clean India Mission has two sub-divisions—Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

The missions aim to ensure all citizens have access to improved sanitation such as a toilet or latrine.

The World Bank project will focus on accountability as progress towards the key indicators—which will form the basis for making available incentive grants to states—will be measured through independent verification assessments.

As part of the project, a third party will conduct national annual rural sanitation surveys.

Today, of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally, more than 750 million live in India, with 80% of them in rural areas.

More than 500 million of India’s rural population continues to defecate in the open, causing preventable deaths, illness, stunting, harassment and economic losses.

The financing mechanism promotes the leadership of states, which will have flexibility in innovating and adopting their own delivery models.

“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," said Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director for India.

“Incentivizing good performance by states and the focus on behavioural changes are two important components of this project," Ruhl added.

The ministry of drinking water and sanitation (MDWS) will oversee 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 project will further provide support for systematic knowledge sharing and innovation, as well as capacity building and partnership.

The loan has a maturity of 18 years, including a grace period of 5 years.

The World Bank will also provide a parallel $25 million technical assistance for capacity building to help state governments implement community-led behavioural change programmes to encourage usage of toilets in households.

“This programme, built on lessons learnt from global and national sanitation projects, represents a fundamental change in approach and recognizes the importance of coupling investments in the construction of toilets to its usage. For it to succeed, large-scale social mobilization for behaviour change is critical at the community level," said Soma Ghosh Moulik, lead water and sanitation specialist and the project’s task team leader.

“Third party assessments and regular monitoring will provide reliable information on the project’s progress," Ghosh Moulik added.

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