Beyond swachhta, with women empowerment : Mandi Vikas Abhiyaan

Sandeep Kadam, DC Mandi, again demonstrates the criticality of district leadership for change. A district already declared open defecation free, Sandeep has not only continued the momentum, but reenergised it by activating mahila mandals (women groups) across his district. Hailing from Maharashtra, he says the philosophy behind this approach is the teaching of Mahatma Phule – ‘ teach a woman, and you reform a family’.

He activated the  mahila mandals through a well planned strategy. Saksharta samiti, the literacy campaign NGO, partners with district administration. They have vikas doots ( development messengers) at the gram panchayat level. Sandeep effected some changes in this grass-root manpower to nominate the best people, many from those active in the mahila mandals. He then conceived a voluntary competitive programme for the district, called the Mandi Vikas Abhiyaan (MVA), comprising five components – Swachhta, shiksha samvad ( education dialogue), disaster management, meri ladli ( save the girl child) and micro-insurance. The district and block coordinators (also from Saksharta samiti) were first trained in these five components. These coordinators in turn trained and motivated the mahila mandals, and appealed to them to participate in these activities. The task was to work once a week – four times a month – collectively for the village. A competitive environment was generated in the district, with more and more mahila mandals looking at it as opportunity for developmental work and recognition. The latter was executed through an annual convention wherein the best mahila mandals ( 54 last year) were decorated last year at the hands of the Chief Minister.
The mahila mandals took up various activities under these components. In Swachhta, the mahila mandals played important part in completing the last leg of ODF campaign by convincing the remaining people not to go out and to construct their toilets. Thereafter, they worked on solid and liquid waste management. They learnt and dug soak pits, for individual houses, as well as at common places. They cleaned the school water tanks and public water tanks ( this activity was triggered when Sandeep saw in a whatsapp picture sent from field the poor quality of water in a school water tank and appealed to all the mahila mandals to take it up), swept the roads, made dust bins out of waste cement bags/ old bins and convinced people to keep one in each house. They also took campaigns with the help of children in removing bhang ( cannabis), a narcotic plant. They cleaned up public water sources, many of which had fallen in disuse. The philosophy behind this campaign, Sandeep says, is that ‘one who cleans, does not dirties’. Once the mahila mandals were cleaning the village themselves, their children and other relatives thought twice before littering, since they realised their own mother would be cleaning that ! When the Prime Minister gave a pledge of swachhta, and appealed to the nation to give some time voluntarily for swachhta, Sandeep deliberated on how this could be made systematic and sustainable – and came up with Mandi Vikas Abhyaan concept.
(Clockwise 1. Common pit for green waste 2. Household dustbin 3. Soak-pit for animal urine 4. Soak pit for kitchen/bath water)
For meri ladli campaign, the mahila mandals began celebrating the birth of a girl child, organising community feast (earlier done only for birth of a son) and even DJs ! They would collectively celebrate girls birthdays as well, giving them small gifts. So many songs have been composed around birth of a girl child replacing the word ‘boy’ with ‘girl’. The mahila mandals also became the focal point for receiving training as first responders during any disaster. This was done through the Red Cross : the difference is that due to active mahila mandals, Sandeep has been able to scale this up across the district.
A feedback that parents were not fully involved in the child’s education initiated ‘shiksha samvad‘ activities, wherein the mahila mandals visited the schools and discussed childrens’ education with the teachers. They also started ‘basta kholo‘ ( open bag) campaign to open the bags and books of their children to just see and put their signature/ thumb impression – even if some were illiterate they could sense progress or otherwise of their child. These interactions also alerted them to some other issues – alcohol/ drug abuse amongst children – and they could work to try nipping it in the bud. The mahila mandals also promoted LIC’s micro insurance amongst villagers, making their villages ‘Beema grams’.
The coming out of women for social activities was not without challenges. But their determination was complete. With strong support from the block/ district administration, they are taking up new and innovative activities as well.
In order to spread their good work, to cross share their activities, and to motivate them, the mahila mandals were given the phone numbers of the local journalists. The journalists began to get so many phones from these ladies, requesting them to come and see their work. They would even get gheraoed sometime, in case they did not give adequate coverage! The mahila mandal women also learnt to click pictures of their work and whatsapp it ! A ‘thumbs up’ sign from the DC Saheb, or his team was enough to keep them encouraged !
With the convergence of various programmes, resources also got converged. For e.g. the IEC funds for different schemes was converged, since various activities were handled at the same platform. The district administration also converged other development schemes to those villages that perforned best in swachhta indicators. This has been included in the Central policy now – prioritisation of all Centrally Sponsored Schemes in ODF villages. Various competitions – mahila mandal  puraskar, swachh gram, unnat gram – are announced, and villages/groups rewarded collectively.
Besides the specific programmatic benefits, the MVA is leading to women empowerment. Women, associated with cleanliness, began to question various cultural practices – such as disallowing them during menstrual period in the kitchen/ making them stay in the animal house. They questioned this was unhygienic and put their health at risk. In another village, during cleaning of the village, women were surprised to find large number of alcohol bottles, and have since collectively taken up with the men-folk control on drinking. They are also actively involving themselves and villagers in programmes like bhang plant removal, knowing fully well the damage that this can do to the children and youth. They are getting a platform to speak and gaining confidence to voice their concerns.
The positive environment in the villages generated through mahila mandals has touched panchayats as well. The panchayats, though a little anxious, that district administration is closing up to mahila mandals, has no option but to join the good work. Some of the mahila mandal members are contesting elections successfully. The model is being picked up by neighbouring districts – State may well take it up and replicate across the State.
The picking up of programme by the village women ensures sustainability.
(Left: Products made from reused waste; Top right: Women cleaning village street; Below right: Women selling non degradable waste to kabadi)
Although the approach is community engagement, as part of it, there may also be a merit in training and involving self help groups ( SHGs) more closely in Swachh Bharat. Two, the involvement of communities through any focal point – such as Swachh Bharat – creates a positive virtuous cycle of people’s participation in their own development. This may also throw up interesting model of media involvement by putting people and media closer together – and people vociferous and empowered. The mahila mandal model also provides for convergence of different developmental programmes at the village level – and takes the programme from ODF to Swachhta, and even beyond. Of course, role of Government remains critical in scaling up and supporting the local initiatives.
As the women beat all odds, and take up seemingly impossible tasks – sacrificing whatever little spare time they had; a thought does come to mind – what about men ? Is sanitation a women responsibility alone ?

People make systems, and systems people : Notes from Swachh Madhya Pradesh campaign


Ajit Tiwari is Deputy Commissioner, Swachh Bharat Mission, Madhya Pradesh. Years ago, prior to launch of Swachh Bharat, he was working as BDO of Budhni block in Sehore district, and was exposed to CLTS training. He says everyday he went to the training thinking that he would attend that day only if he found it useful- and ended up attending all five days. To convince himself of the practicality of approach, he started ‘triggering’ techniques in villages himself. Village after village began to become ODF in his district. He became a proponent of community approach, and believes in it till date. A grass-root practitioner like him in the State level team is good. At the State level, he is working with the same passion, implementing now the system of directly transferring incentive to the person’s account, and propagating construction by the individuals rather than the Gram Panchayat.
Ajit Tiwari
Ajit Tiwari
Harda is a district likely to be declared open defecation free ( ODF) anytime soon (tomorrow ! on the Independence Day). A district where Ganesh Mishra, ex CEO ZP and now ADM started the campaign ‘Operation Malyudhha’ did not suffer upon his transfer ( owing to ‘predecessor-successor’ syndrome) upon his transfer as ADM in the same district – his successor is his wife, Shanmuga Priya. Shanmuga not only took off from where Ganesh left, but took it to the logical end of ODF district through meticulous planning, focus on processes and innovations. She also got full support from revenue administration – Collector Srikant and his team.
Ganesh says that five things are required for a district becoming ODF. The first is the leadership, and mindset of the leadership. Once the Collector/ CEO Zilla Panchayat are themselves motivated, driven and have clarity of approach of community engagement and behaviour change, they can make this campaign successful. Fortunately, in Madhya Pradesh, both Collectors and CEOs are involved in Swachh Bharat, that acts as a double booster. Some other States where CEOs are in charge of development – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka – Collectors are still not involved closely. There are reasons for this since developmental role is with CEOs, however Swachh Bharat may require ‘ all hands on deck’ approach.
The second thing Ganesh emphasises is capacity building. Given that this programme is very different from most Government programmes; it does not require people’s involvement in a superficial sense – it is a people’s programme. The subtle differences between informing people and involving people needs to be understood. This requires regular trainings by experts, refresher training and trainings of all possible stakeholders, so that there is a common understanding of issues by everyone.
The third thing Ganesh says is – “do it before you judge it“. He believes that once you get into it, and do it rightly, it will be addictive. Fourthly, he talks of an “iterative strategy – doing, improving”. The district first worked with preraks who were governmental staff. Then they realised that these preraks could not give enough time to swachhta work due to their other duties, or did not have the right skill/aptitude required for this kind of work. Therefore, they moved to selecting preraks from amongst villagers themselves. And finally, he recommends – ” complete it before fatigue sets in“. He mentions that the work requires lot of time, energy, passion and working in top gear continuously. This degree of intense work can sustain for few months to a year may be. And therefore, one may rather finish it within that time.
Innovations in districts
A lot of innovations are happening at the district level. Sudam Khade, Collector Sehore, and a swachhta champion has devised and implemented a ‘tippy-tap’ across all the anganwadis in his district. He is now planning to do it in all the schools as well. ‘Tippy-tap’ is a simple device, where a can with a hole can be moved by a foot-driven stick to pour water for hand washing. Ganesh is also advocating disability/ elderly friendly toilets through simple, yet effective innovations, like encouraging a small hook in the toilet to help stand up from squatting position.
Harda district has been a laboratory of innovations. The district has given ideas like ‘gift a toilet on Rakshabandhan festival’ by brothers to sisters; ODF Olympics – sports for villagers from ODF villages; meticulous procedure for selection of preraks ( grass-root motivators) involving skill testing, group discussion and physical test; policy of no expenditure on IEC till the village actually becomes ODF; and a very strict verification procedure. The district has taken efforts to engage the Zilla Panchayat members proactively. Orienting them to the cause of ODF, some members felt agitated on the repeated use of the word ‘gun‘ ( faeces). Ganesh, who was facilitating the orientation deftly handled the situation, saying – ‘ ok, we will not use the word ‘gun‘ – we will call it ‘jalebi‘ – and used the word ‘jalebi‘ for faeces thereafter in the workshop. This had even more impact; he said to all that if they were all agitated about the situation, his purpose was solved. They had been triggered.
Scaling up
On scaling up, Madhya Pradesh is working now. Work is happening well in around ten districts (in Central and Southern Madhya Pradesh mainly,  some in Western Madhya Pradesh). The challenge is to spread this fire to the remaining districts. This requires further prioritisation of sanitation in the overall development agenda of the State. A talisman is the frequency with which the Chief Minister/ Chief Secretary of a State reviews Collectors/ CEOs on this programme; and the order of priority of sanitation in the agenda for such reviews.
Electronic transfer of funds to households
Madhya Pradesh has traditionally had sarpanches constructing the toilets for people. This was leading to some problems – delay in construction, uniform construction, people not using due to behavioural reason but blaming sarpanch for poor construction, actual poor construction by the sarpanch, theft of material procured collectively etc. The ‘preraks’ ( motivators) recruited for motivation were also primarily getting involved into facilitating actual construction of toilets. Since this task was part of prerak’s responsibilty, behaviour change work ( triggering) was being inordinately hurried.
The State had been working on behaviour change for few years and felt that there was some demand generation; and that there would be a set of people who can construct toilets on their own, provided the system of providing them incentive can be streamlined. They did the following.
Firstly, they made public ( on web site, and through village staff) the list of people who were ‘eligible’ to get incentive. Secondly, they nominated a block level supervisory officer for a village or few villages and made this information public. They also disseminated information about toilet technology to people. Thirdly, they started operating a single bank account at the State level and withdrew funds that were lying in different panchayats – the amont was a whopping 3000 million. Fourthly, they took help of Punjab National Bank to put in place system of direct electronic transfer of fund to each household. This system functions like this. Any person who knows his name is in the eligible list can start constructing his toilet. After his toilet is completed, he raises demand online, after verifying his account number, for incentive grant ( he can take help of village secretary for this). Once this demand is placed, the block supervisory person is to visit his house, upload the picture and accept or reject his claim, within seven days. This decision is also public, and if wrong, the household can contest the decision. Once the supervisory person has made online entry of acceptance of claim, the BDO processes online payment to the account of that person. The digital signatures of all BDOs available with MGNREGA, as also the accounts of people ( many done during Jandhan yojana), were captured in this system. When the system was to be introduced there was apprehension that pace of work would slow down and people would not come forward. However, this has not been the case and within one month of launch of the system, 61000 people have placed demand.
The system is at variance with the commumity approach, wherein collective behavioural change is triggered in the entire community. The understanding in MP is that while  work of behaviour change may continue, those who are ready to construct, their process may be facilitated. Once this is done, how the  remaining, who are usually the poorest and most vulnerable, will be covered remains to be seen. Unless that is done, health benefits may be suboptimal. A field officer remarks : ‘It is early days, and how useful this system will turn out to be, remains to be seen”.
Capacity building 
On software activities, the State has taken help of Feedback Foundation ( supported by UNICEF); but more importantly the State is building in-house capacity for training in community approaches. The State has trained around 4500 preraks in community approaches across the State. 22 of these, who were found to be best, have been engaged by the State for training, and follow ups. The master trainers amongst these 22 are paid Rs 2500 per day, and the rest Rs 1500 per day. These 22 people were earlier supported by WaterAid; now the State has directly entered into contract with them. The preraks in districts are non-governmental local people, selected by the districts, looking at their aptitude, capability etc. Harda adopted a wonderful system of recruiting preraks through advertisement, group discussion, interview, physical test and also got a bond filled from them after they were trained. Many other districts and the State seem to have learned from them and adopted similar systems. The system of paying incentives to these preraks and monitoring their work is also being put in place. The SBM G guidines provides an indicative manpower structure at the State, district, block levels – while some States have this manpower in place, some don’t. And this needs a close review and cajoling.
Big things 
ODF and sanitation are finally a priority issue in the country. For districts, States and certainly for the country, Swachhta is not something that is paid only a lip service and is ignored. A written communication on Swachh Bharat from the Centre is taken seriously; it is not ‘one of the many’ letters.
Secondly, a BDO, proudly remarked that he was called ‘gun waale saheb‘ ( shit -officer !) : reminded me of my days in Jalna, Maharashtra, where I was known by a similar name – ‘hagandari che CEO” ( CEO of shit!)
Thirdly, the concept of ODF is ensuring inclusion and coverage of the most vulnerable and difficult-to-cover categories. For e.g. districts are addressing sanitation issues of migrant labourers in appropriate ways. It is also being understood that ODF achievement is a one-time activity – that will have to be sustained on its own by the people and villages ( having been ingrained in the habits and culture); and without further dependence on the government. Sudam Khade picked up idea of non partition of house unless the new house has a toilet – and instructed all his officials accordingly.
Fourthly, the programme is reaching the stage where all answers are not sought necessarily from government – there are discussions, and many answers/ solutions arise from the people/ villages themselves.
Unsung heroes
The campaign is producing many grass-root champions/ heroes, work/contribution of many of whom may not even get known at the higher levels ( although the people for whom they are working will never forget them !). These comprise sarpanches, other natural leaders from villages, preraks ( motivators) and grass root functionaries ( could be village secretaries, anganwadi workers etc.) A prerak shared how a person had a toilet but the pit was open. He did not use the toilet but defecated around the toilet only. Despite convincing, neither did he use the toilet, nor cover the pit. The prerak and his team then themselves covered the pit, and also began to cover his shit with soil everyday – whereupon he felt ashamed and started using the toilet. Another prerak recalled how he was posted in a tribal village 70 km away from his home – and how he would even sometimes spend night hungry – but he stuck till the village became ODF. His village got the championship trophy in ODF olympics and he proudly shared that event. A girl prerak was so triggered that she actually stood at the site of open defecation and prevented villagers from the act. Many people would even fight with her, but she continued her work till the village became ODF. A sarpanch, who after making his own village ODF moved from village to village spreading the message, mentioned that he broke his functional septic tank toilet and constructed a twin-pit one, just to convince his village that a septic tank toilet is not better than a twin-pit. In MP rural areas, women bear  purdah (veil). 
(Clockwise: 1. Prerak tying rakhi to me; 2. Sarpanches in caps from ODF villages now motivate other villages; 3. Sudam Khade, Collector, Sehore, felicitating woman in yellow saree who belongs to yellow gang – they do kirtan every morning to dissuade open defecators; 4. sarpanch who broke his septic tank toilet to make a twin-pit one)
For Swachh Bharat, these women with veils, who do not otherwise come in the public, are active in the nigrani samitis ( early morning monitoring committees) and go out every morning to check that no one is defecating in the open.
(Nigrani Samiti women)
Mangesh, a highly educated person left his job in the metro city to work at grass-root levels. He associated with the NGO Samarthan that us doing great work in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh. His organisation plays three critical roles – one they explain the governmental guideline, circular etc. in simple language to the people. Thus they explain to the people the programme, how it is to be achieved and the approach/ philosophy behind it in their own language. Secondly, they also bring back critical feedback to the district administration, so that they can further make necessary changes in the implementation strategy. Thirdly, they also suggest critical innovations,  arising from their working in the field to the district administration for considering scaling up.
Mangesh, Samarthan
Anganwadis are the place where swachhta habits are to be first inculcated. Presence of toilets in anganwadis are therefore a must. Sadly, there is yet no dedicated funding for these toilets. Many enterprising Collectors address this problem by shifting anganwadis in schools or in such private buildings where there is a toilet; however the problem needs a permanent solution through dedicated funding. It is an asset much more important than a road or a drain.
On the implementation side, within the broad understanding of “what works” each village/district/State may have to continuously evaluate, revaluate, respond and reform. The Swachhta campaign not only gets toilets built and reduces gandgi, it also challenges many social-power norms. It may not be wrong to look at Swachh Bharat as an important intervention for social cohesion – ODF bringing together people from all castes and communities in a village around a single desirable collective goal.
When Madhya Pradesh started ‘Maryada Abhyaan’, portraying sanitation as essential to protect women dignity, some organisations objected to the campaign depicting women going out and men looking at them. The State Government brought the prerak women working for the campaign face-to-face with those objecting; and the preraks made a strong case for continuing the campaign, confirming that women do face harassment when they go out, and therefore sanitation campaign rightly raises this issue. Leaving aside the merits of this for a while, what cannot be denied is that a) issues can no longer be swept under the carpet b) looking at sanitation as a behavioural issue necessitates touching and challenging ‘social norm’ chords and c) if they lead to purging of retrograde norms, sanitation would achieve much beyond cleanliness.
Much is said about defunct toilets. Surprisingly, the districts that are performing well ( champions) hardly bring up this issue. These districts seem to be addressing this issue at their level in a much more pragmatic and economic way. They profile these people, swap to include them in the eligible list by excluding other non genuine beneficiaries, or those who can construct on their own, arrange for local materials through village support, panchayat funds, some philanthropists etc to the extent required to make the toilet functional ( and no a necessary 12,000 rupees), bring in innovations – like gifting toilet to someone on Rakhi festival etc. and not look up to Government for funds for these. Besides the resource availability part, there is a certain merit in these local solutions, since this a) fosters collective spirit b) promotes innovation; but most importantly c) makes the process self-sustainable. In case we look up for funds for defunct toilets now, what guarantee is there that we will not be asking again for funds for toilets that may become defunct few years later ?
A programme of this magnitude needs dedicated people. The most important are the grass-root motivators. Harda/ MP has good examples of takung great care in recruiting them. Their experience is that government staff is not able to give much time, given their other duties, and while they can be in supportive role, the motivators should be non-governmental people, from villages. There seems to be some merit in this argument. The second thing is proper training and skilling of these motivators. A five day training module in community approaches is minimal. Ganesh shared these trainings were repeatedly carried out for different stakeholders, and also refresher trainings. They converted the five day module into a one day module for the government staff – anganwadi workers, teachers etc; while the longer module was for the swachh bharat motivators and for core team. Besides the grass root motivators, training is given to all grass root government functionaries, who play a supportive role.
As the hard core IPC triggeringw ork continues in villages, periodic campaigns are helpful to reenergise the momentum. Various festivals in India provide opportunity for this. The sense of district pride is also being appropriately used for the programme – with many districts branding their campaigns – ‘Good morning Sehore’, ‘Operation Malyudhha’ etc. There is political involvement; although programme can get a boost if they put more energies into it. Amongst various micro- village techniques, early morning follow-ups remain a very effective tool in pulling village out of open defecation; and in changing the perspective from toilet construction to ODF. Technology myths and preference for septic tanks remain – demonstration of construction of toilet in a village to villagers seems to be a useful way to dispel myths and clarify doubts about toilet construction. Involvement and contribution of women to the Swachh Bharat remains paramount.
Taking a cue from Harda, it may not be a bad idea to organise sports events for ODF villages. The prerak from Harda who worked in a tribal district shared with immense happiness how their village won the trophy. Sports can rejuvenate the team spirit, as well as the competitive  spirit – both boosters for the Swachhta campaign.
On the policy side, there is a definite merit in incentivising those villages that perform well in sanitation outcomes ( not just outputs!) The new World Bank project will do precisely that – assess performance of States against the outcomes of reduction in open defecation ( measured by access, usage and safety of technology),  sustainability of ODF status and solid/liquid waste management, assessed through an independent national annual rural sanitation survey on a sample basis. The Union budget has also announced prioritisation of all Centrally Sponsored Schemes in ODF villages – the States may also consider prioritising their schemes, as far as possible, in these villages.
The ODF villages have to be positively discriminated, ODF status should become aspirational, and be suitably rewarded. Rewards may not necessarily be monetary. In MP, a Kakaji, dared to stop Chief Minister’s vehicle and ask him why he was touring those villages which were still dirty, and not his village, where they had taken so much effort to make it ODF. The Chief Minister, in his next trip to the district, visited 27 ODF villages; and almost always attends programme of declaration of a Block as ODF. The Harda administration ( and many more) provide a VIP direct entry and access to villagers from ODF villages.
(Priority to ODF villagers to meet district officials)

Lessons from Singapore

Singapore provided insights into some useful concepts deployed by the country in their public policy. I am outlining five broad ideas emerging from my recent tour that are of overarching relevance.

2. The first one is leadership. Visionary and committed political leadership in Singapore for a prolonged period provided policy continuity and remained the main pillar of Singapore’s development.  The civil service, with merit-based promotions and peaking of careers at younger age, also have lessons for India.  Especially, the system of performance evaluation, looking at the potential of an officer – and not just his prior performance – through qualities such as `helicopter quality’ (ability to understand the broader picture, while simultaneously zooming in on details, wherever required), analysis, imagination and realism is impressive.  The public organizations also seem to have a better developed second rung of specialists/think tanks developed over the years through multiple mechanisms, including the Public Sector Leadership Programme.

3. The second important learning is focus on education – reinforcing the theory of emphasizing on this endowment for redistributive justice. Education has been looked upon in Singapore not only as an important component for individual development, but also a medium for cohesion amongst different ethnicities – Singaporeans are supposed to study only in Singapore public schools – and consequent nation-building.  The aptitude and potential of a child is gauged at an early stage to provide him specific academic/technical/other specialized education and training.  The due importance of skills and link with industry may have important lessons for ‘Skill India Mission’.

4. The third noteworthy concept is pragmatism in public policy, meritocracy and appropriate use of behavioural economics concepts and ‘nudging’ in public policy. Singaporeans are not bound by any broad ideology and the State is a wonderful mix of free market as well as State control, wherever required (for e.g. housing, health, and education).  Through an iterative process, the policy-makers developed solutions best suited to their conditions.  When they realized that their children were weak in mathematics, they worked deeply on the same and came up with a `Singaporean Maths’ model that sets global high standards today.  The country appropriately uses ‘nudging’ and ‘default options’ to promote desirable behaviour in areas such as tax payment and savings.

5. Singapore like India is a pluralistic society. Having faced racial riots in the 1960s, the country has taken proactive measures to integrate the different ethnic groups.  This has been done through housing societies that compulsorily houses people from different communities in proportion to their population, provision of open space in these localities for their inter-mingling and  common education that provides a sense of unity and builds a national value. There is a system of       specific support (but no reservations) to economically vulnerable groups.  All this may have important lessons for India.

6. Last but not the least, Singapore has used technology effectively to provide solutions to public problems. The entire State is wired, that has proved to be a big deterrent against any crime.  `Digital India’ Programme can draw lessons from this.

Behavioural economics and policy design for Swachh Bharat

Singapore recycles its water, including sewage water. When they realised they are a water deficient country, and that Malaysia was ever increasing the price of water given to Singapore, they had to find innovative ways of solving the issue. They thought of recycling water, including sewage water. There was a lot of debate on using recycled sewage water for drinking , not only amongst the laymen, but also amongst the scientists. The policy makers were sure that recycled water was safe and this solution had to be promoted. Over-information was not the solution – however much they clarified about its safety, counter opinions continued to surface. They realised that the real reason for public opinion against recycled water was disgust – the ‘yuck factor’; and they addressed precisely the same. On their National day, with full attention of the country and the world, the Prime Minister of Sungapore and his entire team drank recycled water to dispel doubts about its safety ! That was the turning point for people accepting recycled water.
 (Above slide from Prof Leong Ching, LKY School’s presentation; NeWater refers to recycled sewage water)
In India too, there are a lot of myths about having a toilet close to home – it would smell, it is dirty, it would overflow, how will we empty it etc. Robert Chambers had suggested a few months back that these myths can be dispelled if a VVIP in India were to empty the latrine pit ( that has been in use for many years to render excreta safe) and hold the converted manure in his hands. Having seen what Singapore authorities did with respect to dispelling the ‘yuck factor’ around recycled water, time for this idea may be ripe !
Singapore authorities also zoomed in on the fact that complex decisions that involve behavioural change cannot be determined by simplistic data choices but may require a detailed narrative analysis. For example, the question of recycled water is not just about what percentage of people accept it. It is also about a host of other factors that can be described as – Singaporeans generally want self-sufficiency in water, recycled water is cost-effective and innovative way for self sufficiency, it is important for global security etc. – seen in the context of all these, the ‘yuck factor’ gets diluted.
 (Narrative analysis in terms of behavioural analysis of use of recycled sewage water for drinking; slide taken from Prof Leong Ching, LKY School’s presentation)
Similarly, in the context of Swachh Bharat also, the question whether people prefer to go out for defecation is the wrong question, and does not describe the entire gamut of programme. Leaders and implementers of the programme must expand the narrative analysis of Swachh Bharat to – sanitation is closely linked with diarrhoea and child morbidity and mortality, India cannot afford to have thousands of her children die due to preventable illnesses like diarrhoea, cleanliness and hygiene contribute to health etc. This broad narrative analysis will put Swachh Bharat in comprehensive behavioural analysis, much beyond data on few parameters.
Policy design for any public issue necessitates appropriate problem identification in the first place.  For Swachh Bharat, the problem is open defecation and littering/ stagnant water. The rest of the things – lack of capacity, lack of desire, poor supply, lack of toilets, lack of resources, habit – can be causes; but not the main problem. So while we may get deeper into the causes, and sift and prioritise them, and address them, we cannot lose focus on what the original problem is. By corollary, our outcomes have to be necessarily measured by how well the problem is addressednot how well the causes are addressed.
Focus on ‘authorising environment’ and ‘managerial capacity’: The strategic triangle of public policy has three dimensions – ‘public value’, ‘authorising environment’ and ‘managerial capacity’. The ‘public value’ is drawn from appropriate outcomes and is obvious. The ‘authorising environment’ refers to adequate flow of authority and support from say, political masters. While it is usually taken for granted, and indeed at the national level, for Swachh Bharat, this is presently unprecedented, it may be useful to revaluate the same at the State/ district level and to continue to influence actors who are important and can significantly influence the programme . A talisman on A plus for this parameter can be, if the most important stakeholders such as the Chief Minister, for e.g., make a mention of Swachh Bharat on priority in their public speeches, and review it regularly with the Collectors. The third dimension, ‘managerial capacity’ is the single biggest challenge for Swachh Bharat and must remain top priority for States and districts – strengthening their teams and providing them requisite skills.
Who are our stakeholders? Shanmuga, CEO, Zilla Panchayat Harda, Madhya Pradesh rightly remarked that all citizens of Harda were their stakeholders for Swachh Harda ! At a managerial level, however, it may be important to categorise and list out all the stakeholders – so that no one is ignored/left out ( all hands on deck !) and so that communication strategies specific to stakeholders can be drawn-out. Since we have to reach out to many, small two-minute videos, carrying appropriate message may do the trick ! It is also important that information is pictorial, and one that people relate to closely. A hoarding of ‘pair of eyes’ ( stern eyes more effective) has been found to effectively deter a wrong-doer (?open-defecator).
Given the scale of problem, ‘smart’ solutions may have to be innovated. How does less effort yield greater result ? In Singapore, they adapted flush technology that automatically reduced water usage by 1/3rd. The water bills that go in Singapore contains a simple line – ” The average bill in your locality is …”, prompting those with higher bills to reduce their water usage ! How do we ‘frame’ and ‘brand’ Swachh Bharat, so that it ‘nudges’ people to be a part of it, so that having a ‘toilet’ becomes a ‘social norm’. Subsidies have not been found to be particularly effective in influencing behaviours – ‘nudges’ can do the trick! The books ‘Nudge’ by Richard Thaler or ‘Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think’ by Peter John explain the power of nudging, and it is for all the implementers to apply these principles smartly in the programme.
Participation in programme has to be made easier through administrative and financial simplification. Having a toilet should be the ‘default’ option ! Our housing scheme – Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – should have had an in-built provision for a toilet; alas Rural Development Department missed this important opportunity! There should be lower barriers to participation, with measures such as pre- filled forms, easy certificates/applications (wherever required) and supply-chain facilitation. The talisman is to keep oneself in the shoes of a villager, and then simplify the whole process. While giving choices is an important element of community centricity and must be continued, one may be cautious that there is no ‘choice overload’. In this context, circular by Chhattisgarh Government to promote twin pit latrine, and bar septic tank may be a good measure to nudge towards the right choice, and also escape various practical problems that beset a septic tank.
How do we effectively ‘anchor’ ODF ( open defecation free) status, and make it aspirational? Villagers from other villages may be taken on exposure visit to ideal  ODF villages, so that they feel it is possible. Natural leaders and sarpanches from villages who have made their villages ODF can be made to address their peers and decorated as Swachh Bharat ambassadors. The issue will have to be framed in a mental model that he can relate to easily such as stories of local champions who have done it.
The endowment effect in behavioural economics says that one values what one has more than what one does not have. Given this, he is likely to be influenced more by discussion on health of his child, or expenditure on health, or by appeal to his emotional brain; than by discussion on ‘toilets’ ! One is more averse to loss than to gain – again, this implies loss of health may be a more powerful behavioural change nudge than gain of an asset (toilet)!
What is the right timing for a person to spend on toilet ? Or occasion, so that he does it sooner rather than later ? For donation, it was found that donors could be nudged into donation when they were asked to donate a part of their annual income increase, than from their regular income. Can we then also nudge communities to spend when they typically have higher cash in hand, say after a harvest. Other occasions can also be used to ‘promote’ ODF events – such as Chhattisgarh recently used the pre-monsoon period to appeal to people to have ‘Sughar baarish’ – ‘clean rain’ – appealing to their sensitivity to difficulty in open defecation during rains and exhorting them to change that this monsoon by building toilets before the rains. These kind of promotions are used widely in the private sector – say ‘best buy’ offers in malls !
Last, but not the least, it may be useful to guard against things that may hamper achievement of results – while ‘posing’ that they are useful. One of these is ‘isomorphic mimicry’ – i.e. such interventions that give a false sense that things are happening, when they are not. Social media, though useful for cross sharing, may lead to false ‘feel good’ factor. The other factor to be guarded against is ‘preloading’ – creating too much pressure early on, without adequate preparation. This may lead to inappropriate results, and consequent despair.
Given the unique challenges of Swachh Bharat, the views expressed above are not absolute prescriptions, just some concepts that may be tried. At the end of the day, continuous trial and desire to win can be game clinchers.


Hands of majority of motivators in Fatehgarh Saheb rise to a question – ‘how many of you have taken shit in your hands’ ?

It is surprising. Hands rise without hesitation, with pride though. One would expect hands rise to holding a sweet in hand, their child in arms, or a precious thing, may be. But shit ?
Asked don’t they feel the disgust, they reply in negative. They say that this way, they are able to explain most convincingly the relation between shit, flies and food. A sarpanch ( village headman) seconds this – he says people get moved by this the most.
Places such as Fatehgarh Saheb are witnessing this change for the first time – a change where sanitation soldiers ( government officials, motivators etc.) are taking pride in their work. Reluctant to take on the shit-job earlier, they now feel that for the first time in their careers, people are treating them with respect, and they are getting the satisfaction of being part of real change. The villagers said they could not believe when these people said they would visit the village at 5 am in winters for nigrani – when they did, the village responded positively. Thousands will live for money, but millions will die for dignity and self-respect !
Punjab is a place with relatively high sanitation coverage. Prior to Swachh Bharat however, some men would not feel it odd to relieve themselves in the fields. One sarpanch said he was no exception. But now that he had been through the process and his village was ODF ( open defecation free), even if he was somewhere outside and needed to go for shit, he would hold on to find some public toilet in a Gurudwara or elsewhere, but not go outside! The villagers say motivators should continue to visit their village off and on to continue momentum.
Many of the motivators deployed here are either youth, selected through a screening or government officials at grass root level – a Junior engineer, pump operators etc. The junior engineer, unhappy when moved from water to toilet side, now proudly says he and his team have made one full block ODF. He also recounts difficulties encountered – a group of poor migrants from Rajasthan were not constructing, despite being given incentive, and forwarding lame excuses of lack of space etc. He caught hold of the one amongst them who was most adamant, and told him that a police complaint would be filed – upon which those people constructed. Another sarpanch mentioned that they actually levied a fine of Rs 2500 on a group of open defecators.
Work is starting with stopping open defecation, not constructing toilets ( which follow). Open defecators are told to cover their shit with soil, if they go out ( till they construct toilets). Motivators visit individually the houses of open defecators – women motivators are particularly effective since that shames the household.
Toilets are constructed/ got constructed by people, with government money flowing into their individual accounts. People are putting in their own funds (my toilet has to be better than my neighbour !) and constructing bathrooms along with toilets.
Some of the motivators are young girls. When someone asked them, how do their parents react to their leaving houses early mornings ( when it is still dark) for nigrani, one of them said – ‘we are not only triggering the villages, we are also influencing our parents !’
The programme is led in the district proactively by the DC ( Deputy Commissioner) S. Sangha. He has roped in all departments ( education, health etc.) , and taken political people on board. He says most of his meetings, irrespective of the subject, would start with the subject of open defecation and cleanliness. ‘ Jaisa raja, waisi praja’ ( Like king, like subjects) – the message from the top is quickly imbibed by all.
S. Jasbir Singh, Executive Engineer ( called Ex En sahebs in Punjab)’s designation is now ‘district sanitation officer’. In Punjab, the engineers working in the sanitation sector are now transforming into ‘social engineers’. The ‘union leaders’ are ably brought in the programme, their high energies channelised positively. As the government reaches the door step of people through this campaign, other issues of villages also tend to get solved better. An engineer said, when they went for ‘toilet work’ in the village, the village questioned them as to why the water supply scheme gave water for 1 hour only. The engineer looked at the whole issue – sought cooperation of the village; and the scheme is 24*7 today.
The programme in Punjab took off when the State Government got serious about it last year. Best officers were brought in to lead the programme. Mohhamad Ishfaq, a relatively junior in hierarchy, was made the State coordinator, given his impeccable sincerity, passion, hardwork and abilities. The State, with jugaad or otherwise, managed to pull along practical interventions with speed and scale – trainings were conducted across, existing cadres were mobilised, new motivators taken and given incentive linked with outcome, monitoring apps developed ( through engineering students at peanut price) to keep a check, convergence done with education department – books published for children with sanitation messages ( the close involvement of school children had a positive effect on overall education level as well as ascertained by the State through an independent Pratham Survey). The State improvised on the model of community approach ( in true spirit of flexibility) to suit their condition of high coverage. Demand generation and awareness were however taken as non – negotiable.
Fatehgarh Saheb is the place where two sahebzadas of Guru Gobind Singh ji gave supreme sacrifice. The poet, Maithillisharan Gupt has, on this incident has written:
Jis kul Jaati desh ke bachche 

de sakte hain balidan,
us desh ka vartman kuchh bhi ho

par bhavishya hai maha mahan”. His prophecy seems to be coming true.

There are challenges as well. The problem of kachra ( litter) and chhappar ( village ponds) ( both man- made ?) are staring in the face. On the shit issue too, one has to be watchful lest there should be slippage. The village leadership seems yet to take things in their hand and to reduce dependence on outside motivators. A collective feeling in the village has to take deeper roots to address other development issues.
However, the shift from pre-Swachh Bharat days, when the programme was contractor-driven with no focus on demand generation or community involvement is stark. It is not important where we stand; it is important the direction in which we move !

Name, shame; but not the children

The Swachh Bharat is a programme different from many. Rather than a typical government programme talking of subsidies, beneficiaries and target, it is taking the form of a social movement with its passionate soldiers working at ‘behaviour change’. Learning from its earlier avatars, Swachh Bharat has realised that if only we are able to convince people that open daefecation is disastrous for them, and that opeb daefecation by anyone in their village is equally disastrous for them, the rest of the job is easy.

However, this is easier said than done. Converting a programme from a sarkari programme to a social change movement first requires ‘unlearning’ on the part of implementers – coming out of the role of ‘providers’ of welfare and subsidies to ‘facilitators’ of development. Before working on the mindset of people; before attempting to change their age old practice of open daefecation; our own mindsets have to be worked upon !

Working on behaviour change is a science of sorts. Primarily, yes, it requires a basic nature of love for the people. But beyond that, one needs tools to bring about this behaviour change. Sermons, bhashans etc have been tried for long, but have had limited effect. The CLTS ( Community Led Total Sanitation) brought in refreshing ‘trigger tools’ that spread like wild fire and caught the imagination of facilitators and people alike. Practiced over many years in different milieu, these tools increased in number and variety. Practitioners across, challenged with the goal of ODF, improvised and developed innovative ideas. The whole idea was to use something that catches the imagination of people, facilitates sustained engagement with them in an interesting way and is effective in the sense of nudging communities into action.

Naming and shaming developed as a tool for behaviour change. The original purist form may have been a ‘walk of shame’ where the facilitator took villagers through the site of open daefecation, walking through the shit, even standing there and discussing. This was a major change from ‘sober’ public meetings held in Gram Panchayats or public places. And proved useful. The shaming thus developed as a tool widely used.

What may be realised is that this shaming was usually collective shaming. Even if names were taken in the collective shaming discussion, it was with a view to collectively improve, and not shame a few. The skill of the faciltator ensured that the naming and shaming was ‘unifying’ not divisive.

As the work is scaling up, two facts become relevant : One is a subconscious timeline pressure to achieve results quickly. And two, there are constraints in reaching out good trainings across the country. Timelines are important, since we cannot continue with the blot for too long, and have to work in a Mission mode – start to finish. On trainings, novel ways such as virtual trainings are being considered to reach out fast. However, irrespective of these, what is happening also is that implementers across the country are devising novel ways to influence behaviours. Many of these are innovative and enriching the pool of ‘trigger tools’. An example is ODF Olympics in district Harda, Madhya Pradesh, where the district administration organised sports competitions only between the ODF villages. The non-ODF villages were not allowed to participqte in these popular sports ! This is also naming and shaming of sorts; however it is again ‘collective’ naming and shaming and therefore still acceptable ( ? less harmful) .

Another type of naming/ shaming is also emerging at some places. Somewhere it takes the form of social restrictions, somewhere linked with law to deny benefits to those who do not own a toilet ( in Haryana and many States, one cannot contest a Panchayat election, unless one has a toilet at home- this has been upheld as a reasonable restriction by none other than the Supreme Court in Rajbala case), and some places extended to schools. In Andhra Pradesh, there is a ‘self -respect’ campaign, wherein in schools the names of children who have toilets is written separately from those wjo don’t have it. In some districts of Rajasthan, in schools, the children who have toilets are ‘positively discriminated’ by giving them special bags etc.

It is difficult to judge the utility and impact ( positive or negative) of these interventions, primarily because they are all contextual. However, some general impressions can be drawn. The foremost remains that naming and shaming, if used, be primarily collective, and not individualistic. The whole idea is to propagate sanitation as a collective good and not an individual good. In case where individual naming/ shaming is done, ( if at all it has to be done!)  it makes more sense if the naming/ shaming tools are left to insiders i. e. the villagers themselves, and not outsiders ( read bureaucracy). One also has to be watchful that the naming/ shaming does not promote exclusion of specific castes/ communities etc.

Self respect

As far as children are concerned, it has proved very effective to involve them in campaigns, collectively. Children in groups, as vaanar sena, going from house to house, asking elders to construct toilets ( Zid karo abhiyaan, Madhya Pradesh) seems a very potent tool. However, anything divisive amongst children, such as separately naming those children who do not have a toilet, or rewarding those who have one, may be evaluated carefully, since child psychology is sensitive, and since a child may not be able to influence decision in his/her house, despite wanting to have a toilet.

Overall, the talisman may be – anything that is unifying ( resulting in the overall cumulative good, all adopt good practice, there is no coercion or heart-burn, the process brings all people together) is good; anything divisive, rethink !

Be kind, as a poor man !

We have a cycle wallah close to our colony. He lives with one or two more people on the pavement, making a small hut, around 6 by 3 feet, that is his residence, kitchen and shop all in one. Last time i went to his shop, i asked him where i could get a good cycle pump. He had said he would get me one – a more durable and quality one within a week.

This time he had got one, and he showed to me. It was indeed a better quality one, than the one typically sold in markets and one which i found did not last long. He said this one costed Rs 160. I gave him Rs 200, and he was returning Rs 40. I was surprised, that he did not expect any money extra than what he would have paid ! What about the cost of his effort of procuring it ? Does anyone, any businessman do this, even for known ones, leave alone strangers? He showed later that the pump had a printed price of Rs. 299, and wondered why people overpriced products so much and fooled other people.

I looked at his torn shirt. I also noticed a younger worker in his shop for the past few days. He was deaf and dumb, no less skillful in his job. Earlier, i thought he was the deaf and dumb boy who was with this man for long; but realised he was another one (? younger brother of the other one). I do not know if these two were his children or not. But certainly, he had passed on his skills to these two, so that they would survive.

The elder deaf and dumb was inside the hut, eating food. The cycle wallah in the meanwhile told  a visitor ( ? acquaintance ) if he had eaten. He said “kuch khaya hai”. The cycle wallah said – ” khana bana hai, kha lo”; seeing that the visitor was not sure if there was food for him as well, the cycle wallah said – “khana hai, sab ke liye!”. Do we welcome an uninvited person over a meal ?

The cycle wallah’s hands were bleeding. He showed me, saying a rat or a chuchunder might have bit him during the night, and he has called some vaid to give him an injection. ” Vaid aata he hoga !”

Number 2s, number 3s – they’re important

In IAS, one normally works at number 1 position, at least in the initial 10 years or so. A CEO, Zilla Panchayat, a Municipal Commissioner, a DM ( Collector – the most enviable post!) offers one immense opportunity to work in leadership position. You think, you plan, you implement. Your word is an order, your wish taken seriously. You have opportunity even to go wrong and make mistakes with bona fide intentions. You test out the waters, as none other. You learn, you are amazed and your capabilities surprise you. Many of those may be capabilities of the chair, or they supplement yours. The result can be awe-inspiring to the common man. In less than 6 months, you see the fruits of your efforts. Numerous people helped, improved systems, motivated teams, and improvement in whichever sector you put your heart and soul into. You are believed to possess a magic wand, that can correct everything.
The love and satisfaction one gets in these posts may dissuade one to take up ‘dry’ Secretariat posts of deputies – a Deputy Secretary, a Director, an OSD. Loss of personal comforts vis a vis a district is considered a smaller loss – a bigger loss is the loss of ‘freedom’ to lead, to put your (whacky) ideas to test, absence of regular accolades from people, and a very close relation ( closer than your wife!) with your boss ! Sector and content begins to take a backseat – they say ‘don’t choose your Ministry, choose your boss!’ One feels one can contribute ( only) as much, as the space given to him by his boss. Within the sector also, priorities of the boss will supercede on his understanding or his priorities of what is best for the sector. These are the ‘common’ understandings ?myths); and perhaps that is why, many young officers may not prefer coming to these Secretarial posts. Except for few States such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, officers posted in Secretariat in early years is an exception, not the norm.
The reality is different. The beauty of IAS is the versatility it provides to do different things at different times. And there is a merit, in fact, lot of merit in one taking up assignments of Deputt Secretary/ Director etc. Firstly, the system stands to gain, because a young officer having spent some years in the field is equipped well to understand policy and framing programmes. His boss, with greater experience, is much more knowledgeable; but is so tied up with number of meetings, and other urgent works, that he does not have time for dirty detailing. He needs therefore, an intelligent person, to whom he can explain the broad idea for further detailing. The Secretarial service officers, who have their own strength in many other ways, may lack this ability to comprehend the idea and produce a proper convincing document with adequate justification. The young IAS officer, fresh from field experience is much more likely to correlate policy to implementation challenges and suggest suitable changes. Thus not only does he act on guidance of his senior, he can also proactively suggest measures that if logical and useful, are very likely to be picked up by his seniors and get adopted. A colleague remarked that close to 90%  of what emerges as policy is a Deputy Sectetary/ Director’s idea is not far from truth. In fact, the seniors provide Deputy Secretary/ Directors a good shielding space – by keeping them away from unnecessary but unavoidable meetings – so that they can concentrate on productive work. Secondly, the Secretarial work being concerned with the entire State or national scale exposes young officer to issues that he did not face personally in his district – and widens his canvass. He can both fine tune his convictions and learnings through this, as well as expose the rest to something considered doable by him based on his experience.
As far as the extent to which he can contribute is concerned, it is a bit personal also. Someone said that to be efficient, one must learn to consider himself one level higher, in a bona fide sense i.e. to take higher level deciaions, even some risks. One can do this more easily at number 2/ number 3 positions, rather than number 1; since you are shielded.
Finally, as a senior officer remarked – IAS is the best job, if you can learn not to play centre forward every time !

दूधयाचे सरपंच तुम्ही राष्ट्राचे धोरण थरविले (O Sarpanch of Dudha, you helped determine the national policy)

The budget announcement of 2016 included this – ‘In order to continue this (Swachh Bharat) momentum, priority allocation from Centrally Sponsored Schemes will be made to reward villages that have become free from open defecation’.

This was a very special moment. It brought back memories of 10 years ago, when I was working in Jalna district in Total Sanitation campaign. One day, I visited one of the early (open defecation free) ODF villages in that district, Dudha in Mantha taluka of Jalna. The picture of Dudha sarpanch is clear before me. A short heighted person, little stout, with a Gandhi topi, and with a heart of a champion, a natural leader, a public-spirited person, who had taken lead in and persuaded his entire village to become ODF. After he had shown me his village, he mentioned that water in his well had almost dried, and people were feeling water scarcity. With folded hands, and moist eyes, but a smiling face, he requested me if a well could be sanctioned for his village. I got a jolt of kinds! Here was a man, a person who should be worshipped, a person, who keeping the public good first, did something that was very rare in those days, and pulled his village out of misery of centuries. And he had still to ask for something, again not for himself, but for his village. I felt he deserved it as a right, much more than anyone else, and we sanctioned him a water supply scheme then and there. Here is how I documented the incident 10 years ago in my book ‘Beyond sanitation’,  an incident that was to become an important learning for me in my early years :

Dudha is a small village in Mantha Block, which had the prestige of being first in the district in Sant Gadge Baba Abhiyaa. When we visited the village, we found a tremendous zeal in Murli, sarpanch, to make his village developed. There was also a very positive environment in the village …no factions, no false complaints. The village was in dire need of a well. Most schemes go to villages which are not necessarily the ones needing them the most; and certainly not the ones who would implement them in the most efficient and transparent way. Dudha made us realise that there was a need for ‘positive incentivisation’ for such villages. Our Zilla Parishad passed a resolution to consider ODF villages on priority while selection for various developmental programmes. It works like this. In ODF villages, the positive energies of people are unleashed and they are capable of implementing all other development programmes in a much more transparent and efficient way. The best thing is that everyone in the village begins to think about the village as their own, and hence the best chance for success arises. The interdependence thus begins to be developed not only within the village but also between the villages on the one side and Government on the other. It is not ‘You do it (for us), we shall give you …’ philosophy but ‘because you have done this, you need to be appreciated’ philosophy. There is a thin but a definite difference between the two. It is a win-win situation.” 

As I learn more about the community processes, I realised that the most ‘purist’ community and participative process is where one does not link it to any extrinsic ‘carrot’ or ‘stick’. Programatically however, there was a definite need to encourage the ‘good’.  As the programme was upscaled in Maharashtra, due recognition of grass root champions began to  decrease. There was a feedback from sarpanches of some districts that while they took so much effort for their villages, there was not even ‘a pat on the back’. Therefore, the logic to institutionalise positive incentivisation, especially if work is to be done on scale gained strength.

In South Korea, we learnt about the Saemaul Undong, the new village movement. Sameaul Undong, meaning New Village Movement, is an approach adopted by South Korea in 1970s to involve the rural community in their own development.  It is based on the three principles of diligence, self-help and cooperation.   In this programme, the government identified community leaders with voluntary spirit and gave them basic training in leadership.  These leaders then identified certain projects for their community, for which the Government provided basic support in the form of materials.  In the process, the communities not only became self-reliant, but also learnt to plan and implement holistic developmental programmes on their own. Saemaul Undong, in a way was about positive incentivisation. The philosophy was  “ Why should we give street lights to a village, if the villagers were to sit beneath them and drink, and even break them !” But if the community took one step, Government would respond with nine steps.

With this basic conviction, when I joined Swachh Bhart, I mooted this idea. The conviction was strengthed by winessing that champion Collectors in many States were already linking up other small schemes – a watershed work, a community toilet, cleaning up pond, a water supply scheme – in ODF villages and responding more favourably to demands of such villages. These demands, such as request for a teacher in the village school,  small from administration’s point of view (in its coldness and vastness) can be very critical for the village. And the Collector/CEO, Zilla Panchayat are usually in a position to address those (thankfully), despite the ‘guidelines’ for each scheme. The idea was picked up well, and our Minister wrote to Chief Ministers of all the States, appealing to them to prioritise other development schemes in ODF villages. Our Minister also wrote to all the Central Ministries concerned to prioritise their schemes in ODF villages.  When it comes to linking schemes of health, or child development, this linkage has greater logic. Shri Agnihorti, Retd Secretary and nutrition expert, calls the battle of malnutrition a cricket match in which you need all factors right. If one addresses few factors – good supplementary nutrition, health check up, but leaves the rest – poor sanitation and open defecation, the match cannot be won.

This is the kind of convergence that is required. Let each Ministry/Department do more of what they are doing – whether it is roads, or water supply, or housing or water conservation, or agriculture extension – in villages that are showing the courage and success to think together as a community, and work together to shed off a century old practice. It will certainly help the other Departments as well, since these villages will implement those schemes much better. And it will also encourage more and more villages to become ODF. Let this positive discrimination roll out !

Of course, caution has to be that one does not trigger a village to become ODF since they will get a road! A village has to become ODF for the sake of their own health.  Another caution is that the more deserving ones of those schemes do not lose out. But we are only talking of prioritization, which means first amongst the equally deserving. The enabling environment has to be such that rewards the performers.

Thanks Murli!

Notes from West Bengal

Electronic transfer of funds : the State is rolling out a system of electronic transfer of funds, with a single account at the State level. This will solve issue of unparked funds in some districts. Issue has been raised by other States, including Assam and UP. This may be encouraged.
Involvement of CM and DMs: After Nadia declared ODF, the CM has prioritised sanitation in the development agenda and directly reviews DM on its progress. A DM is able to take many courageous decisions ( allowing construction of toilets even on encroached lands, Nadia), roping in all stakeholders etc. DM s are also able to find innovative solutions for issues such as non Baseline survey toilets ( through MGNREGA etc), providing access of toilet to Anganwadis ( by shifting private Anganwadis to buildings that have a toilet, linking school toilets to anganwadis etc.) A DM can also have ‘big vision’ for time bound outcome. District leadership is sine qua non for Swachh Bharat.
Sanitary Mart model: the basic model of West Bengal (? Drawing from Midnapore) is the supply driven sanitary mart model. Through strengthening of this supply chain, districts have been able to achieve saturation fast. In districts with high literacy, impression is that convenience ensures high usage of these toilets as well. The presence of high incentive however, lures a person to have more toilets, with say family splitting, and also a person to want a pucca toilet, even if he has a safe sanitary but kutcha toilet of earlier scheme. If incidentally this leads to some community getting a pucca toilet earlier, this may lead to different connotations. At some point of time, the village/ GP will have to say ‘no’ to new additions and decide that it is now their responsibility to not allow any open defecation and provide toilets themselves to any new families etc. The State is also now allowing an individual household to construct their own toilet; however it is yet to be practiced on scale.
The GP size being very big in West Bengal, and institutional structure being very strong in GPs ( own engineer, secretary, asst secretary etc), and roping in of all village functionaries ( including ASHA, Anganwadi workers) – districts are achieving saturation fast. Solves the sanitation issue faster; may miss on the intangible gains of a community thinking of themselves as a community and unleashing a positive energy amongst them, and making them more prepared/ responsive for various other development works, and feeling a collective pride. The behaviour change is however increasingly being stressed. Few people (NGOs) from all districts have been given basic training in community approaches, and it has percolated in varying extent to the grass roots, more so where DMs are personally championing the same. Understand in Malda and Cooch Bihar, the model is a more purist community model. Learnt that in Malda, Nirmal Utsav is celebrated once the village becomes ODF and the district administration carries plethora of schemes/ camps there. This positive incentivisation – after- the village becomes ODF – and not luring them before, may help the programme. DM Birbhum for example sanctioned a submersible pump for water to the temple committee who had donated their land for row toilets of poor families. The extreme purist approach even detest this linkage, maintaining that motive to become ODF has to be of the people, by the people, for the people.
Clearly, there are multiple approaches and as West Bengal and India inches closer to Swachhta, learning along the way from each other may be very useful. Sometimes even within the same State, districts may be unaware of models in other districts, and it may be helpful if State facilitates cross sharing between districts ( and even to other States) on a regular basis ( workshop, Video Conference, sharing on website, most importantly cross visits).
Individual incentive: at least in the richer districts, asked how many people are such, who cannot construct toilets of their own funds, one response was , ” Aisa to Ek Bhi nahin hoga ! ” In Assam, and Rajasthan, loosely asked, response to this question was ‘At least 90% can’. The SBM-G allows States to decide how they want to disburse household incentive – individually, or collectively to community after village becomes ODF. And they can take a decision that takes them fastest to sustainable ODF ! (A National workshop in Chhattisgarh is being scheduled to share their experiences in this regard with other States). A strong ODF verification mechanism of the State can help State choose the best strategy.
Involvement of religious leaders : is one of the many efforts of Nadia in involving stakeholders . The Imam of Nadia, when called upon by the DM Salim to join this work, felt this  ” hum to saalon se wait Kar rahe the is kaam ka; pakizgi ki hifaazat to Hamara hi kaam tha, aur district administration hamesha hamare saath tha, raat ko das bane bhi hamein saath chalne ko kaha gaya . . ” Wow ! Nadia also brought in wonderful convergence. NRLM was used to increase the number and skills of SHGs to develop them as marts. The fringe difficult areas were addressed – brick kilns, dhabas. Salim brilliantly involved political class in his work by triggering them, comparing situation of Bangladesh with them, and developing a common vision of ‘why can’t we?’ Nadia, Indore makes one rethink, do we really need five years to become ODF – why not a year, why not two years? All DMs charged together, can do it in two years ? Will it be a good policy in terms of reaching saturation fast, working like mad, a revolution? Or is 5 years also a slowly sustainably emerging model?
Vulnerable: are the SCs, STs, minorities more difficult to ‘convince’ ? Or does this vary with approach ? Whatever the approach ( especially in non community approach) , how do we ensure that the the gaps reduce, at least not increase ! Rohit Gupta, DM Udaipur and UNICEF, Rajasthan are scheduling a workshop on ‘sanitation in tribal areas’ where the issue should be discussed in greater details.
Clearly, there is a need to understand, promote and replicate electronic transfer of funds to address issue of unparked funds. Decision on baseline to reflect true picture is also required. Issue of defunct/ outside baseline toilets through MGNREGA may be an easy route and utilised. Nadia, Indore may also make one rethink, do we really need five years to become ODF – why not a year, why not two years? All DMs charged together, can do it in two years ? Will it be a good policy in terms of reaching saturation fast, working like mad, a revolution? Or is 5 years also a slowly sustainably emerging model ?