The tools used to achieve these objectives include:
1. National Policy Review (NPR) at the National and State (for Odisha and Tamil Nadu in particular) level to understand the implementation process of the SBM, funds allocated and spent, secondary data used therein.
The PAC project team continuously monitored the developments that were taking place in SBM and documented the same in its second revised comprehensive National Policy Review report. The team observed that although quite a few of the implementation steps had been adapted from the previous guidelines of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (when this project was initiated), new systems of SBM implementing teams, support structures, training modules and enhancement of funds had also been added to the national guidelines.
2. Citizen Report Cards (CRCs) in selected districts in Odisha and Tamil Nadu to assess the current construction and usage patterns through feedback from users and implementers
3. Case Study Research in selected Gram Panchayats in each of the selected districts for an in-depth understanding of the demand-side issues and supply-side constraints.
While the benchmarking CRC gave the SBM project team a reality check of the ground situation, the case studies provided the underlying social, cultural and administrative nuances that would sometimes get missed in a survey. To get a better understanding of the same, the team carried out detailed case studies in each of the 12 selected districts (6 each in Odisha and Tamil Nadu) by visiting one of the GPs where the CRC survey had been carried out. The case studies included talking to various stakeholders that included beneficiaries; GP, Block and District level officials; GP level elected officials and local programme implementers.
The case studies revealed that in the case of Odisha, each district had developed its own way to build SBM toilets and disbursement of subsidy to the beneficiaries. For example, while in some districts the building of toilets was given to contractors or NGOs, in some the beneficiaries built the toilets with local help. In terms of disbursement, a few districts had adopted the approach of Block Officers controlling the fund disbursement process, while in one or two districts, the Gram Panchayats were doing the same.
However, in the case of Tamil Nadu, the process of implementing the programme was more of less quite similar with each of the districts following the state guidelines very religiously. Only in terms of using IEC methods of ensuring usage of toilets did the team find local innovative methods being adopted by enthusiastic local officials. For example, in Dharmapuri district, the Project Director had brought out one-page pamphlets on the importance of toilets of using them to be distributed among school children who were instructed to take them home, read the message to the parents and get their signatures signalling their commitment to building and using of toilets. In another Gram Panchayat, the team found that the GP President had declared a fine of Rs. 500/- for any individual found openly defecating, especially since the GP had been declared ODF.
The case study exercises in addition to the CRC helped build a better understanding of the system and brought the project team closer to the programme implementers, as a build-up towards implementing the next exercise – the CRC+.
4. CRC+ exercises in selected Gram Panchayats in each district to assess fund flow (SET or Selected Expenditure Tracking) and functional responsibilities (FMA or Function Marker Analysis) handled by implementers
The CRC+ exercise is an approach that attempts to assess the various components of a service delivery programme in terms of funds flowing through the administrative levels to reach the beneficiaries and the efficiency of the functions associated with this fund flow. These two flows are called Selected Expenditure Tracking (SET) and Function Marker Analysis (FMA). This requires access to data within the supply systems and extensive discussions and data collection from service providers. This exercise was also carried out in each of the districts separately. It was interesting to note that as found in the case studies, while there were district level variations in the case of Odisha, Tamil Nadu followed a set pattern as mentioned in the state SBM guidelines.
In Odisha, the SBM state-level Guideline was developed quite recently as against the Tamil Nadu Guideline. It was observed that each of the districts in Odisha have adapted from the Guideline based on their understanding, the contextual issues that they were facing, and leadership of the programmeme at the district level. Preparatory activities such as launching, bringing out of PIP and AIP, the IEC programme which dwells mainly on IPC (Inter -personal communication) method, even the training aspects, hardware procurement and data updating are almost similar across the districts. However, there is minor variation in terms of monitoring of toilet construction, where 2 out of 6 districts are relatively active and regular in monitoring even if no format exists in any of the study districts for this purpose. The release of funds from the state office is almost similar across all districts in terms of timeliness, and is often need-based rather than automatic transfer of funds. Except for 2 districts, the funds flow was found to be going directly from district account to beneficiary without involving block or GP accounts.
In the case of Tamil Nadu, most of the patterns relating to fund flow and function-related activities were found to be quite similar. Interviews with key officials of the programme revealed that the Block level officials were carrying out a lot of duties relating to administrative matters, one of which included implementing the SBM programme. Considering the short deadline (becoming ODF by 3019), the need for a dedicated SBM implementing team was voiced along with more staff with better salaries.
The CRC+ exercises thus brought out the systemic issues that were being faced by the supply side constraining their effectiveness in sincerely implementing the SBM programme.
5. Community Score Cards (CSCs) in selected Gram Panchayats in each district to try and improve forums for communities to place their voices and demand accountability.
To carry out Community Score Cards the advocacy based social accountability tool, the PAC project team made extensive preparations in the form of identifying relevant NGO partners, carrying out due diligence exercises with them, procuring all the relevant documents and sharing, finalizing and signing of MoUs between them and PAC. The PAC team then proceeded to share the work plans with them to which the NGO partners added their timelines to ensure smooth and timely implementation of the tools in the selected Gram Panchayats.
The actual process included the following steps:
• Preparatory ground work
• Input tracking score card
• Performance score card by the community
• Self evaluation score card
• Interface meeting
The project commenced with a comprehensive national policy review of the NBA and the SBM-G guidelines both at the national level and the those of the states of Odisha and Tamil Nadu. These were followed by scoping exercises that included visits to the relevant ministry at the Centre and to state government departments in both the states to apprise senior officials regarding the objectives of the project and the activities therein. These were followed by extensive visits to the field to understand issues that beneficiaries and implementers were facing to populate the data collection instruments that would be canvassed in the CRC survey and also in the exercises following the CRC.
This paper looks at the evidence generated from the benchmarking CRC that was then used for implementing advocacy measures among the study districts of Odisha and Tamil Nadu.