The World Bank reported that it has approved a $1.5 billion loan to India for its ambitious “Clean India” campaign to support the government’s efforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improved sanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2019. The loan, disbursed over a five-year period, will be used for the Swachh Bharat Mission Support Operation Project.
As per World Bank statistics, of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally, more than 750 million live in India, with 80 percent living in rural areas. More than 500 million of the rural population in India continues to defecate in the open, suffering from preventable deaths, illness, stunting, harassment and economic losses.
“One in every ten deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation. And studies show that low-income households bear the maximum brunt of poor sanitation,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director for India. “This project, aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Swachh Bharat initiative of the government, will result in significant health benefits for the poor and vulnerable, especially those living in rural areas.
“Incentivizing good performance by states and the focus on behavioral changes are two important components of this project,” Ruhl added. The bank said the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will play the overseeing and coordinating role for the program and support the participating states.
Funds will also be used to develop the capacity of MDWS in program management, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation. “India has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in pursuing the ambitious SBM campaign and embracing the focus on behavior to complement the construction of toilets,” said Annette Dixon, World Bank vice president for the South Asia Region.
The World Bank will also provide a parallel $25 million technical assistance to build the capacity of select state governments in implementing community-led behavioral change programs targeting social norms to help ensure widespread usage of toilets by rural households.