Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan

What is sanitation and hygiene?

  • Sanitation means measures necessary for improving and protecting health and wellbeing of the people. Sanitation is any system that promotes proper disposal of human and animal wastes, proper use of toilet and avoiding open space defaecation.
  • Hygiene is the practice of keeping oneself and the surroundings clean, especially to avoid illness or the spread of preventable diseases.

What are impacts of poor sanitation?

  1. Health-related impacts: Increased morbidity, poor nutritional outcome, Premature deaths, costs of treating diseases; productive time lost due to people falling ill, and time lost by caregivers who look after them.
  2. Domestic water-related impacts: Household treatment of water; use of bottled water; a portion of costs of obtaining piped water; and time costs of fetching cleaner water from a distance.
  3. Access time impacts: Cost of additional time spent for accessing shared toilets or open defecation sites; absence of children (mainly girls) from school and women from their workplaces.
  4. Tourism impacts: Potential loss of tourism revenues and economic impacts of gastrointestinal illnesses among foreign tourists.

Steps taken to promote Sanitation in India- A Historical Overview

  • 1980-1990:India launched the Integrated Low-Cost Sanitation (ILCS) Scheme (1980) and the Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) (1986) during the International Water and Sanitation Decade (1980-90).
  • 1996:Central Rural Sanitation Programme was restructured, following which, a community-led Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was introduced.
  • 1999:The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan (NBA) was launched to replace the TSC. The focus here was on the principles of community-led total sanitation (CLTS) in rural areas.
  • 2004:Urban sanitation started receiving attention after the Pune Declaration titled “Provision of Universal Sanitation in Urban India”
  • 2005:Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Scheme (JNNURM) was launched
  • 2008:National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) was launched.
  • 2014: Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched with 2 sub-missions- Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) – (SBM (G)) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) – (SBM (U)) with the vision of ensuring a ‘Clean India’ by October 2019.

 Swachh Bharat Mission:


  1. Eliminate open defecation
  2. Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  3. Eradication of manual scavenging,
  4. 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  5. To bring about a behavioural change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices,
  6. Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
  7. Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
  8. To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.


  1. Construction of Household Toilets,
  2. Community and Public Toilets
  3. Solid Waste Management
  4. Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness,
  5. Capacity Building and Administrative & Office Expenses (A&OE).


Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban): It aims at making urban India free from open defecation and achieving 100% scientific management of municipal solid waste in 4,041 statutory towns in the country.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin/Rural): It aims to bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the ruralareas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation

Special initiatives and projects under Swachh Bharat Mission:

Achievements of Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • According to the SBM dashboard, more than 890.59 lakhs toilets have been built in rural areas under the programme. As of 2018, SBM (R) has achieved a coverage status of 96.51% of households as compared to 37% in 2014
  • The SBM – Rural claims to have achieved ODF status for 25 states and union territories so far. At the district level the number is 533 out of a total of 718 districts in the country (as on 26.11.2018). Further, there are 5.29 lakh+ ODF villages.
  • In urban areas, almost 5.5 million toilets have been constructed so far. Around 400,000 of these are public toilets.
  • There has been significant progress in door-to-door waste collection and 80% of urban wards had been covered up to July 2018


Issues and Challenges:

  1. ODF status: One of the major criticism of the SBM has been overemphasis on toilet construction. The ODF status has been primarily awarded to village, district or state on the basis of the number of toilets constructed despite the mention of termination of faecal-oral transmission and absence of visible faeces in the environment as major parameters in the SBM guidelines. The ODF status has been questioned by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in September 2018 report.
  2. Data: It has also been alleged that there is over reporting of government set targets of toilet construction.
  3. Construction issues: The 51st Report of the Standing Committee of the Parliament (2017-18) highlighted the concerns over durability and quality of construction of toilets. The report observed that fall back rate of ODF declared villages in the past was high due to non-sustainability of toilets.
  4. Toilet usage: SBM has been predominantly a supply-side intervention focussing on construction of toilets. Though there has been significant toilet construction, the toilet usage remains unsatisfactory in many areas. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 2016-17 found that open defecation remained fairly high in the rural areas of the BIMAROU states.
  5. Behavioural issues:Religion and caste play an important role in determining whether an individual is likely to use toilets. Open defecation remains a common practice in different rural areas due to cultural and societal factors which shape the behaviour towards sanitation.
  6. Waste Treatment: Though there has been significant progress in door to door waste collection, only one-third of the waste being generated is being processed

  1. Manual Scavenging: Critics are of the opinion that SBM has made negligible attempts at critical areas of eradication of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of such workers. It has predominantly focussed on building toilets without any strategy about how they are to be cleared. There has been inadequate investment on procuring mechanized sludge and pump machines for physical removal of excreta. Further, the campaign does not address a reworking of the underground sewerage system.

Way Forward:

  1. The government should concentrate on creating a demand for toilets. Policymakers must ensure that a larger proportion of funds are directed towards educating people about hygiene and the social marketing of toilets.
  2. To address the issue of over/under reporting of government set targets, verification of facts on the ground is extremely important
  3. Proper facilities for disposal of excreta should be created. People begin to use toilets but the faecal material goes untreated which harms the environment
  4. Various cost effective technologies should be adopted for sewage treatments and proper disposal of waste from toilets.
  5. Use of technology can play an important role in eradicating the practice of manual scavenging.Empowering the lower castes by encouraging them to pursue alternative jobs and possibly providing them with subsidies to construct latrine facilities can also be a step in this direction.
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