The target of Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’. Of the 6 measurable targets of this SDG, 6.2 clearly states that ‘by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation paying special attention to the need of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations’.
The Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission that succeeds the previous Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan aims to address this target by committing to an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019 the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. While the relevant ministries and departments are working furiously towards achieving this ambitious goal, questions are increasingly being raised on the process and quality of construction of toilets, their sustainability for long-term usage as well as the issue of usage itself.
It is in this context, that Public Affairs Centre (PAC), a Bangalore based non-profit think tank focused on six districts each of two states Odisha and Tamil Nadu to assess ground realities related to the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) programme and advocate for change using evidence collected through its repertoire of social accountability tools.
PAC used its pioneering Citizen Report Card (CRC) approach to collect information from beneficiaries regarding their experiences with the NBA and SBM-G programmes. This led to the identification of five issues of concern, one of the main ones being the lack of ‘ownership’ of these toilets among beneficiaries. Supply-side issues such as timeliness of fund flows and carrying out of functional responsibilities were explored using the CRC+ approach.
Currently, the Community Score Card (CSC) approach is being carried out using scoring mechanisms to bring users and SBM-G implementers together in interactive platforms for preparing joint action plans for a more informed implementation of this programme. While this is still a work in progress, from its successful experiments so far in each of these districts, it is very clear that systematic collection of evidence, sharing of the same among all stakeholders working in the spectrum of sanitation, in open platforms for dialogues and action plans, can lead to more efficient implementation of this programme.