Bolstering the ‘Clean India’ initiative, the World Bank has approved a USD 1.5 billion to support the government in its efforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improved sanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2019.
Of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally, more than 750 million live in India, with 80 percent living in rural areas, according to World Bank statistics. It is estimated that more than 500 million of the rural population in India continue to defecate in the open. This accounts for a host of health problems, stunting, harassment and economic losses suffered by rural population of the country.
The loan approved by the World Bank will be used for Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Support Operation Project. “One in every ten deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation. And studies show that low-income households bear the maximum brunt of poor sanitation,” World Bank Country Director for India, Onno Ruhl said. “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,” he said. “Incentivising good performance by states and the focus on behavioural changes are two important components of this project,” Mr Ruhl added.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) will oversee and coordinate the programme and support the participating states, according to World Bank. The funds will also be used to develop the capacity of MDWS in programme management, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.
“India has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in pursuing the ambitious SBM campaign and embracing the focus on behaviour to complement the construction of toilets,” World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region, Annette Dixon said.
A technical assistance of USD 25 million 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, will also be provided by the World Bank.
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