The Swachh Bharat Mission, besides triggering business growth in two segments –construction materials and hygiene products – is considered the world’s largest behavior change programme. This change makes the mission meaningful as the people take home the benefits of the work.
On August 15, 2014, in his first independence day address, the Prime Minister gave a clarion call to the nation to fight filth and open defecation, change old habits and achieve a Swachh Bharat by 2019, to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Since then the things have worked well. Entire Indian has joined his call giving no political colour. That was a serious effort. Beyond being a photo operation of politicians carrying broom stocks and dustbins the mission went ahead boosting the spirit further. Corporate entities and rich men have joined and spent money rendering support to the mission of cleaning India, building rural toilets. A year is remaining to reach the deadline. Millions have already been built.
Building toilet would be a waste if rural India’s behavior change is not ensured. It is for the first time a massive national mission is put for assessment of behavior change over what is provided under the mission. The result has been encouraging and the mission target has doubled.
The Swachh Bharat Mission is considered the world’s largest behavior change programme. Its outcome was assessed closely beside the count of new toilets built under the mission. Studies have indicated that the mission has truly changed the behavior of Indians, especially rural Indians. The best part of the mission is the great emphasis laid on the behavior change in rural sanitation and sustainability of the benefits accrued to rural communities.
Swachh Bharat has become a household name that generation will continue to live with it. It has become one of the most socially influential government missions that post-independent India has seen. As much as 85 per cent of rural India has been covered by the mission.
Already 74 million toilets have been built in rural India, making thirds of a million Indian villages and 391 districts have been made open defecation free (ODF). The initial target and final performance varied widely, making the mission virtually a revolution. In another one year, the country would be in a position to call itself ODF. The open defecation free scenario helps India save a huge sum as it would considerably reduce water contamination and consequent diarrheal diseases that cost India an estimated 6.4 per cent of her GDP, as the World Bank estimates.
A survey by an Independent Verification Agency across 90,000 households across 6000 villages found the usage of toilets in rural India is now 93.4%. Independent surveys by Quality Council of India last year and National Sample Survey Organization a year prior found the usage of the toilets at 91% and 95% respectively.
The so called toilet building spree under the mission has seen deployment of multi billions of rupees. The government target is to build 111 million latrines in five years; that is easily achievable considering what has already been achieved. A huge size of money has flown in to the segment to make it an impactful national mission. The aggregate Central government allocations in four years stood at Rs 33,875 crore. Besides, private entities also have contributed a substantial amount towards this mission.
Almost two-thirds of the mission target has been achieved already. According to someestimates, the mission has triggered more than 80 per cent growth in sales of concrete building materials and 48 per cent growth in bathroom and sanitaryware sales. Toilet material manufacturers and hygiene product companies have reported significant growth in their business. They are spending money for creating awareness among people in the name of the mission. The government vows to ensure universal sanitation coverage by October 2019, to mark 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.