In a boost towards the actual implementation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have agreed to provide assistance in the critical areas of capacity building of implementing agencies, including urban local bodies.
This will include technology transfer, technical support, sharing of best sanitation practices and implementation and monitoring of projects.
USAID on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of urban development while BMGF signed a memorandum of cooperation.
Minister of urban development Venkaiah Naidu and US ambassador to India Richard Verma were present on the occasion. These memoranda were signed in pursuance of the agreements reached during the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barak Obama in September last year.
As per the MoU, USAID will assist in knowledge exchange and identification and sharing of best practices for water and sanitation services.
This is aimed at effective knowledge transfer enabling more rapid delivery of services. State and city level implementation staff will be provided with necessary skills and incentives to deliver results under Swachh Bharat Mission and National Urban Development Mission for 500 cities and towns.
Under this, performance indicators and city ranking systems will be introduced for incentivising participation in Swachh Bharat Mission and triggering competition between cities. USAID will provide a broad spectrum technical support to demonstrate a fully functional sanitation system encompassing containment, collection, transport, treatment, reuse and safe disposal of fecal waste in Visakhapatnam.
USAID will assist in creating a profile of consumer behaviour and identify behaviour changes relating to purchase of toilets and related services besides developing targeted and creative messaging for behaviour changes to increase demand for toilets and supply of sanitation products and services. It will assist state governments in creating supporting regulatory environment for service providers for operation and maintenance of community and public toilets.
USAID is likely to spend about $2 million per year on these activities.
Under the memorandum of cooperation, Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation will provide technical and management support and assistance in the implementation of the mission.
It will fund National Level Programme Management Unit for coordination of decentralised and non-sewered sanitation solutions.
It will award grants to organisations selected by the ministry for delivering sanitation services besides release grant funds to grantees like NGOs, public or private organsiations annually, based on satisfactory performance in respect of milestones specified.
It will assist in capacity building for planning, project preparation, implementation and management through training and skill development focusing on towns with population of one to five lakh, located along the Ganga river, at a cost of $2.50 million per year.
The agency will support IEC and behaviour change communications and extend technology and innovation support for Central Public Health Environmental Engineering Office (CPHEEO) of the ministry.
Speaking on the occasion, Venkaiah Naidu said, ''More than funds, changing mindsets of the people towards safe sanitation practices and capacity building of implementing agencies are the key issues to ensure a Clean India. The government is committed to walk the talk to realise the goals set under cleanliness mission in the next five years. US cooperation will go a long way in this regard.''
US Ambassador Richard Verma said ''India-US cooperation has exciting prospects. On the eleventh day of being in India, I am delighted to be associated with this partnership initiative in the area of sanitation, which has significant linkages with economic development.''