Home >News >India >Swachh Bharat Mission proved highly cost-beneficial with benefits related to health: Study
Under Swachh Bharat, govt has declared that 540,000 villages are open defecation free. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint )
Under Swachh Bharat, govt has declared that 540,000 villages are open defecation free. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint )

Swachh Bharat Mission proved highly cost-beneficial with benefits related to health: Study

  • The study used household surveys in the 12 Indian states that once contributed to over 90% of open defecation in India
  • The study said that the annual benefits of sanitation under SBM-Gare US$ 727 plus US$ 294 one-off property value benefit

NEW DELHI : Central government’s ambitious program Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) proved highly cost beneficial with annual benefits of US$ 727 per household mainly from savings associated with health such as reduced diarrhoea incidence (55%) and from sanitation access time savings (45%), said a UNICEF study published in the World Development Journal.

The study titled--Comparison of the costs and benefits of the Clean India Mission—aimed to estimate and compare major economic costs and benefits associated with sanitation improvement achieved during three years of SBM from households’ financial and economic perspectives and a broader societal perspective.

According to the findings, the investment costs average US$ 396 per latrine and average annual operational costs were US$ 37(financial) and US$ 94 (time costs). The study found the estimated Benefit-Cost Ratios (BCRs) to be 1.7 for household financial perspective, 4.5 for household economic perspective and 4.0 for societal perspective under Open Defecation Free (ODF) corresponding to 100% toilet coverage and usage scenario. The benefit–cost ratio is an indicator, used in cost–benefit analysis, that attempts to summarize the overall value for money of a project or proposal.

The (BCR) identifies by how many times the overall benefits exceed the overall costs of sanitation across the selected households. While the SBM-G intervention period was only three years at the point of the study, as is usual in cost-benefit analysis, the benefits and costs were estimated over a longer lifespan of toilet assumed to be ten years. “However, under partial-ODF scenario with 85% toilet use rate, the BCRs are 1.1, 3.3 and 3.0, respectively," the study said.

The study used household surveys in the 12 Indian states that once contributed to over 90% of open defecation in India. Monetized costs included household financial and time investments in building and maintaining toilets, and government’s investments on subsidies and campaign activities. Monetized benefits included reductions in medical costs and mortality associated with diarrheal diseases, productive time saved from fewer diarrhoea cases and accessing outside defecation options, and increase in the property value of having a toilet.

The authors said that there is a wide range of economic benefits associated with increased household toilet coverage and use, including health gains, reduced access time, improved environment cleanliness, increased property value, reduced water pollution, value of recycling energy and nutrients, personal dignity and social benefits (physical safety, privacy, comfort, status, prestige, aesthetics) and increased tourism.

The study said that the annual benefits of sanitation under SBM-Gare US$ 727 plus US$ 294 one-off property value benefit. “Majority (55%) of the annual benefits are health related (US$ 402). The aver-age medical cost per episode of diarrheal diseases at any type of health facility was US$ 63, which is saved when an episode is averted. The average duration of an illness episode was 1.8 days with an average 1.34 health facility visits," the study said.

“Of the savings in lost time in illness and caretaking, 52% of the value accrued to the patient and 48 percent the caregiver. Substantial health benefits were due to the reductions in premature death, valued at US$ 249per year per household. Significant time is spent in accessing sanitation outside the house by those who do not have or use a household toilet," it said.

The value of time savings for a household where all members use the toilet was found to be on average US$ 325 per household per year. The study found that the investment in a toilet is perceived to contribute positively to the value of the property, with an average rise in property value of US$ 294. This value corresponds to 70–80% of the total investment cost of the toilet for all wealth quintiles, and to about 5% of the reported property value of the house.

“The sanitation improvements under the SBM are highly cost-beneficial, more when communities are free of open defecation with all households using private improved sanitation facilities. Future SBM investments must ensure not only sustaining the universal toilet coverage and usage, but also ensure safe faecal waste management so that households continue to enjoy full benefits of sanitation," the study said.

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