E-book on rural sanitation and drinking water

Seetha Gopalakrishnan
Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 09:29

Provisions relating to water and sanitation are among the 61 items listed as ‘State Subjects’ under the Seventh Schedule in Part XI of the Constitution of India. Despite being catalogued as the responsibility of the states, the Union Government pitches in to supplement the former’s efforts.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) is the nodal agency at the national level in charge of ensuring that safe water and sanitation reaches households in hundreds of villages spread across the country. Currently, the MDWS assists state governments by providing financial assistance for two social welfare programmes, namely the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Rural Drinking Water Programme.

The MDWS has come out with an ‘E-book on rural sanitation and drinking water’ which introduces readers to key concepts of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and best practices in the rural WATSAN sector among others.

Sanitation in rural India

A survey conducted by the NSSO in 2012 revealed that 40% of rural India had sanitation facilities, with Kerala being the best performer in access to toilets while Bihar fared the worst.  

In the decade between 2012 and 2022, the three main goals that require to be achieved include the provision of fully sanitized environments; adoption of better hygiene practices and the management of solid and liquid wastes.

Under the SBM-Gramin, the union government provides an incentive of Rs. 9000 out of the total Rs. 12,000 for the construction of individual household toilets. Since its inception, over five lakh individual households toilets have been constructed across the country and the data is being constantly uploaded on the SBM-G’s Management Information System.

Rural drinking water

Various schemes have been put in place by successive governments at the centre to ensure safe and adequate supply of drinking water to rural areas since the early 70s. The Eleventh Five Year plan witnessed the conversion of all water conservation schemes at the village level with a view to provide close to 90% of rural households with piped water supply by 2022.

Traditional water harvesting was given importance and village water security plans were created to ensure sustained water supply in rural and far flung areas. Integrated information management system was proper and work was initiated in several states.

Transparency and accountability

When a scheme on such a grand scale is proposed, it is all but natural for queries to pop up from all corners regarding the efficiency of fund utilization. Apart from regular review meetings, officials are expected to maintain a periodic ledger of progress online. These online data management systems as well as third party evaluations help keep the process transparent and open for scrutiny.

The Swachh Bharat Mission has been creating social media waves as well. The programme reaches out to its audience through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, constantly uploading videos and interesting case studies.

Creating WATSAN awareness

Realising the importance of involving the community in the development process, the Ministry has spent considerable time and effort in generating awareness before the commencement of any scheme. Rallies and street plays are often employed to get the point across about water borne diseases and the importance of safe sanitation.

Given the perfect mix of ministry initiative, transparency in functioning and citizen engagement, the SBM has the ability to transform rural India for better. Here’s hoping for a healthier, cleaner and open defecation free India by 2019.