Daily Current Affairs – 23rd January, 2017

Daily Current Affairs – 23rd January, 2017

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Analysis

Introduction

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has been one of the most important programmes of the government in the past one year. Major share of the finances are being spent on this programme, officials are being regularly monitored to ensure best results.

Lately, the focus has shifted from construction of toilets only to declaring districts and states Open Defecation Free (ODF). States such as Sikkim, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh have already attained this status and other states are also working towards achieving the ODF status.

 

However, various other aspects such as governance and implementation have to be analysed to review the performance of this programme.

Features of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) on 2nd October, 2014 with the following objectives:

  • Eliminate open defecation,
  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  • Behavioural change in people and awareness generation among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health,
  • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems, and
  • To enhance private sector participation.

The above objectives are to be achieved with the help of the following components:

  • Construction of Household Toilets,
  • Community and Public Toilets,
  • Solid Waste Management,
  • Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness,

Positives so far

  • A lot of effort and resources, both personnel and financial, are being devoted towards achieving the ODF status in almost all districts of the country.
  • With immense focus on the SBA by the government, this programme has been at the centre of focus for political appraisal.
  • As a result of the scale of this campaign and the government’s continuous focus on sanitation, health and hygiene, SBA has received a very high-level of political commitment and time-bound targets.

Challenges in the Success of SBA

Data Related Challenges

  • Adequate data on the basis of third party surveys and evaluation is not available to assist in performance evaluation.
  • Whatever data has been recorded reveals a lot of inconsistencies. Accuracy of data is lacking since there is duplication of names and false toilet construction has been reported in many cases.

Quality Concerns

  • Quality of toilets being constructed and performance of other initiatives is an issue.
  • No training is being undertaken to mobilise all the people involved. Officials of the local government and those responsible for sanitation are not given any training for community mobilization.

Administrative Concerns

  • Even though Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) have a major role to play still there is lack of institutional capacity at the grassroots level to deliver sanitation services.
  • The high level of political focus that SBA has received has brought along with it immense performance pressure for essential stakeholders such as district collectors. This pressure has had a negative impact on the officers incharge.
  • For the success of this programme a lot of investment in terms of administrative capabilities has to be made. Since the same is lacking, there is inefficiency in the performance and also diversion from the prime objective.

Citizen Engagement

  • Since the district collectors and other officers incharge are supposed to work towards targets, they have resorted to penalization of citizens.
  • Coercive measures such as disconnecting power supply and withholding supply of rations are being used in case of failure of public to construct toilets.
  • Citizens are being fined for not constructing toilets and being forced to take loans from banks since the government gives the money after construction of the toilet.
  • There is limited interaction between the government officials and the citizens who need to be made aware of the programme and their roles and responsibilities.

Reforms Strategy

  • Citizens need to be involved in activities to spread awareness and for the purpose of demand creation. Citizen participation has to be increased.
  • Not always will a carrot and stick approach work. Hence, the bureaucracy and the government officials involved should not use coercive measures. Rather citizens should be incentivized and motivated.
  • Community interaction should be encouraged. Civil society institutions need to be approachable to the people. Such collective action will go a long way in the success of this campaign.
  • Local government has to be very proactive in their work. Organs of local government need to be strengthened with sufficient powers to work towards the objectives of SBA.

Conclusion

There is no fixed path towards success for SBA. It has to be a combination of many elements. The government needs to combine top down and bottom up methods, role modelling and advertisements have to be combined with citizen participation and community interaction. With so much of political willingness and support for the programme, it is time that government also empowers local government in the best manner.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the provisions of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Critically analyse the performance of the programme with suggestions to improve the outcomes.

Civil Services Reforms

Introduction

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