Way Ahead in the Sweep Stakes


India Today - - SAFAIGIRI - —San­deep Un­nithan

Bangladesh has been a role model for the de­vel­op­ing world for a num­ber of rea­sons. Its most as­ton­ish­ing suc­cess is its near-to­tal erad­i­ca­tion of open defe­ca­tion. In the 1990s, Bangladesh, like most of South Asia, grap­pled with poor san­i­ta­tion is­sues. Nearly 42 per cent of the coun­try’s 166 mil­lion peo­ple defe­cated in the open. Last year, that num­ber crashed to just one per cent. A 2016 World Bank Study cred­its Bangladesh’s san­i­ta­tion suc­cess to its Com­mu­nity-Led To­tal San­i­ta­tion (CLTS) ini­tia­tive. De­vel­oped in the early 2000s, it works on be­havioural change rather than toi­let con­struc­tion.

The CLTS ap­proach be­gins with the idea that so long as even small num­bers of the com­mu­nity defe­cate in the open, ev­ery­one is at risk. This trig­gers the com­mu­nity’s de­sire for change, mo­ti­vates peo­ple and en­cour­ages in­no­va­tion and ap­pro­pri­ate lo­cal so­lu­tions, lead­ing to greater own­er­ship and sus­tain­abil­ity. Bangladesh be­gan its war against OD in 2003. The cam­paign was sup­ported by up to 25 per cent of the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment bud­get. Last year, the ini­tia­tives cost the coun­try $526 mil­lion.

In­dia could learn a great deal from Bangladesh’s war on OD. Ac­cord­ing to the 2011 cen­sus, the states with the high­est num­ber of open defe­ca­tors are Ut­tar Pradesh (129 mil­lion, 64 per cent), Bi­har (80 mil­lion, 77 per­cent), Ma­ha­rash­tra (53 mil­lion, 47 per cent), Mad­hya Pradesh (52 mil­lion, 71 per cent), Ra­jasthan (45 mil­lion, 65 per cent). Other South Asian coun­tries have much smaller num­bers of peo­ple with­out toi­lets, mostly in rural ar­eas: Pak­istan (25 mil­lion, 13 per cent), Nepal (9 mil­lion, 32 per cent), Afghanistan (4 mil­lion, 13 per cent).

Bangladesh’s com­mu­nity-led ap­proach is al­ready be­ing prac­tised un­der the Swachch Bharat mis­sion. Grow­ing num­bers of peo­ple are be­ing roped into the ini­tia­tive. The fu­ture is bright.

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