national-constitution-rural-sanitation-1The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India, organized the National Consultation with State Ministers and Secretaries in charge of Rural Sanitation on December 20 and 21, 2012 in New Delhi.

In 1986, the Rural Development Department initiated India’s first nation-wide programme, the Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP), which focused on provision of household pour-flush toilets and relied on hardware subsidies to generate demand. This approach failed to motivate and sustain high levels of sanitation coverage as it was based on the erroneous assumption that provision of sanitary facilities would lead to increased coverage and usage.

In 2012, the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) has been revamped as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), which has been launched with modified guidelines and objectives to accelerate sanitation coverage in the rural areas so as to comprehensively cover the rural community with renewed strategies. NBA has brought major changes in the rural sanitation programme by widening the provision of incentive for individual national-constitution-rural-sanitation-2household latrine (IHHL) units to cover the identified Above Poverty Line (APL) households who belong to Scheduled Castes (SC)/Scheduled Tribes (ST), small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homesteads, physically challenged and women-headed households alongwith all Below Poverty Line (BPL) households. Under NBA, incentive has been increased to Rs 4,600 (Rs 3,200 from Centre + Rs 1,400 from State) + Rs 500 extra for hilly and difficult areas from Centre. Additional financial assistance upto Rs 4,500 per IHHL has been provided in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for all eligible beneficiaries.

Through visits, feedback and review meetings, it is learnt that the implementation of NBA in convergence with MGNREGS has not been fully streamlined as yet and states are facing some difficulties in operationalizing the convergence.

Main Objectives

The main objectives of the National Consultation were to provide a forum for participation of the political leadership at state level, state secretaries, district and field functionaries, NGOs and international resource agencies to discuss various issues linked with implementation of NBA and to identify changes, modification for upscaling the Nirmal Bharat for making India a Nirmal Bharat.

national-constitution-rural-sanitation-3The National Consultation was divided into two days:


– Day one of the consultation was restricted amongst the state secretaries and other state and district officials in charge of rural sanitation.

– The day one programme was chaired by Mr. Pankaj Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

– Day two of the consultation was with state ministers and state secretaries in charge of sanitation.

For both the days there was a quite spread out agenda covering issues like:

· Review of states’ physical and financial progress after launch of NBA

· Review of implementation of NBA-MGNREGS convergence

· Implementation of new NGP guidelines

· Review of Sanitation Monitoring Framework

· Review of Strategies for Strengthening IEC activities

· Review of role of NGOs and international resource agencies

· Time line for 100% Open Defecation Free

· Review on conversion of dry latrines into sanitary latrines

· Suggestions from states

Inaugurating the consultation on day two, Hon’ble Mr. Bharatsinh Solanki, Minister of State, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said: “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan launched in the first year of the 12th Five-Year Plan attempts to make a drastic change in the construction and use of sanitation facilities by the rural population. Several measures have been initiated to popularize and bring in sanitation to the mainstream. Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan has brought in several changes in the sanitation programme firstly by widening the provision of incentives so as to extend the facility not only to the BPL families but also to the identified APL households…. In this regard I also seek the opinion and valuable suggestions of Non-Government Organisations and International Organisations. The NGO’s can help to initiate the demand generation process and also educate the community on the need and advantages of toilet facilities and in certain cases do valuable hand holding. They can facilitate the community on good practices and hygiene behaviour, and monitor the changes among the village community. I request NGOs to upscale their involvement in sanitation so as to achieve Nirmal Bharat”.

Sulabh’s Achievements

Speaking at the National Consultation on both the days, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder, Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, highlighted the achievements of Sulabh International and explained how the sanitation programme was made household-friendly by Sulabh. He also emphasized the needs of proper sustainable technologies, trained manpower availability in the rural areas and a strong motivation and awareness campaign to make rural sanitation a great success.

He also highlighted the issue that NGO’s have to be actively involved in IEC (software) activities as well as in hardware activities, communication, promotion, and subsequent follow-up at the community level. Their services are required not only for bringing about awareness among the rural people but also ensuring that they actually make use of the sanitary latrines. Experienced NGO’s may also play a major role in human resource development within rural community. Personnel from these organizations may have valuable knowledge and insights on the adequacy of current services and priorities for improvement.  NGOs can also open and operate Production Centres and Rural Sanitary Marts. They may also be engaged to conduct baseline surveys and PRAs specifically to determine key behaviours and perceptions regarding sanitation, hygiene, water use, O&M, etc.

Dr. Pathak emphasized that for taking up the above activities the states will select NGOs having adequate experience in this field that will be funded to a maximum extent of 15% over and above the total project cost to be borne by the Centre and states.

national-constitution-rural-sanitation-4Most of the state representatives highlighted the issues concerning merging of NBA with MGNREGS as both the programmes are co-ordinated by two different sets of officials. It is becoming rather impossible to merge these two programmes as priorities are different. They requested the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to take suitable steps to iron out the differences, so that rural sanitation programme may run smoothly.  The states also highlighted the needs for various models of household toilets, trained manpower and strengthening of the awareness campaigns to make the programme a success.