World Bank provides $1.5-bn support to Clean India mission

World Bank has extended a new $1.5 billion support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project to support India's Swachh Bharat or Clean India mission, the country's largest-ever drive to improve sanitation.

The Swachh Bharat project aims at promoting behaviour change among rural communities and helping accelerate results in India's states by giving them performance-based incentives.

Despite impressive economic growth, India faces the challenge of ensuring good sanitation and public health for its citizens, which is an enormous challenge, World Bank noted.

The new $1.5-billion World Bank programme will support the government of India in implementing the rural component of the Clean India Mission. The programme will help accelerate results in India's states by giving them performance-based incentives.

The new Mission is time-bound and given India's enormous diversity, it accords flexibility to the states to adopt delivery models most suited to their local contexts, while making budgetary resources and technical assistance available from the central government, World Bank said in a release.

The World Bank will monitor project implementation on the ground through a national sample-survey of rural sanitation every year by independent third-party agencies.

Sanitation improvements will be measured in terms of the number of rural people who have stopped open defecation, sustaining the open defecation-free status of villages, and achieving improvements in solid and liquid waste management.

Based on the survey findings, the World Bank will release funds to the government of India. The central government will in turn pass on the funds to the states, based on their performance on these parameters every year.

These incentives will be in addition to the budgetary support provided by the central government to the states for funding program investments, hence these will be additional grants based on states' performance. This will also foster competition between states.

By promoting and sustaining changed behaviours, the program will help accelerate the achievement of goals under the Clean India Mission by 2 Oct, 2019, Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.

In addition, the Bank will help strengthen the institutional capacities of the national Ministry of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, as well as of selected states, particularly those which face challenges in sanitation.

As per World Bank statistics, more than 750 million of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally live in India and 80 per cent of these live in rural areas.

More than 500 million of the rural population in India continue to defecate in the open, suffering from preventable deaths, illness, stunting, harassment and economic losses.