Success of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ – Data vs Reality

About Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ is a nation-wide campaign in India for the period 2014 to 2019 with a target of clean India.
  • It was launched on 2nd October 2014 by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
  • The mission has two thrusts:
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“Gramin” or ‘rural’), which operates under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; and
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (‘urban’), which operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.


  • It aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, and rural areas by these ways:
  • elimination of open defecation
  • conversion of unsanitary toilets to pour flush toilets
  • eradication of manual scavenging
  • municipal solid waste management and
  • bringing about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices.
  • It is launched with two Sub-Missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
  • The Mission aims to achieve a Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
  • It aims to achieve an “open-defecation free” (ODF) India by 2 October 2019.
  • Total 11 crore 11 lakh toilets in the country have to be built.
  • It aims of Constructing 90 million (9 crore) toilets in rural India.

Arrangements of funds:

  • The projected cost for this project was ₹1.96 lakh crore (US$27 billion)
  • The World Bank provided US$1.5 billion loan and $25 million in technical assistance in 2016.
  • The Funding is divided between the central and state governments in the ratio 60:40.

Amount allocated in budgets: 


  • The 0.5 per cent Swachh Bharat cess, which was applicable on various services till June 30, also managed to collect a total Rs. 9,851.41 crore.
  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs. 47 lakhs as a grant amount and Rs. 200 crores as a loan to 17 agencies in 2014, to be lent as toilet loans.

Evaluation: (Success of Swachh Bharat Mission -Data vs Reality)

The latest data from the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) portal suggests that 27 out of India’s 36 states and Union territories are now open defecation free (ODF) with 98.6% of Indian households having access to toilets.

but these data sounds too good to be true.


Are these data true on the ground of reality?


We can evaluate the mission by the help of a working paper published by the  “Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE)” and New Delhi-based policy think tank “Accountability Initiative (AI)”, which is based on surveys of over 9,812 people and 156 government officials in 2018.


(1) On the basis of number of toilets built:

  • According to SBM dashboard, number of toilets built under the programme are: more than 85 million in rural areas, around 5.5 million in urban, around 400,000 of these are public toilets. The rural programme claims to have achieved ODF (open defecation free) status for 21 states and union territories so far. At the district level the number is 457 out of a total of 718 districts in the country. national rural sanitation coverage up from 39% four years ago to over 98% now.(2) on the basis of waste collection and waste processing:
    • Progress in door-to-door waste collection is quite remarkable in urban areas as 80% of urban wards had been covered up to July 2018.
    • But solid waste processing is not significant as only 1/3rd the waste being generated was being processed.

    (3) On the basis of preventing illness:

    According to World Health Organization:

    • The Swachh Bharat Mission in rural India is expected to prevent over 300,000 deaths from diarrhea and protein-energy malnutrition between 2014 and October 2019.
    • Unsafe sanitation caused an estimated 199 million cases of diarrhea annually before the start of the toilet-building push.

    (4) on the basis of ODF (open defecation free) status:

    • The latest data from the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) portal suggests that 27 out of India’s 36 states and Union territories are now open defecation free (ODF) with 98.6% of Indian households having access to toilets.
    • while Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE) suggests that 44% of the rural population in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan still defecate in the open.
    • According to SBM, the number of ODF declared:
      • The speed of construction toilets from 2017 to 2018 (only in 15 months) is too fast to be believed.


      • According to RICE (research institute for compassionate economics) and AI (accountability initiatives):
        • The increase in toilets ownership seems to have been driven by SBM.
        • While toilets are an important first step for sanitation, they still need to be used.


        (5) On the basis of behavior change:

        • The government was investing much in building toilets and not in information, education and communication (IEC) activities to induce a behavioral change.
        • Only 1.87% of the total fund was spent on IEC activities which is not significant.
        • The mission has not been successful in changing the behavior for using the toilets as 23% of latrine owners who defecated in the open unchanged from 2014 to 2018.


  • These results imply that SBM did not induce any behavioral change.
  • While building more toilets has helped India’s sanitation challenge, but Swachh Bharat Mission would be called successful if it were combined with the behavioral change of Indian population.
  • Only with the behavioral change India could achieve ODF status.

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