The Indian government has launched the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), one of the country’s most successful programmes, which will be implemented from 2020-25. The first phase, launched in 2014, led to the construction of nearly 100 million toilets and improved lives for millions of rural women.
The second phase of SBM will focus on consolidating the gains made under Phase-I of the critically-acclaimed programme. It will now seek to ensure that no one is left behind in rural India in access to and use of toilets. The focus will be to ensure that solid and liquid waste management policies are implemented in every Gram Panchayat, the lowest unit of India’s federal structure.
Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat launched the second phase of the mission in New Delhi. He also released a study by Unicef and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on the impact of the SBM on rural women. The study surveyed 6,993 women in five states across the country and found that the increase in number of household toilets led to increase in the convenience, safety, and dignity of rural women.
The government also hopes to generate employment in rural areas and provide impetus to the rural economy through the construction of household and common toilets.
One of India’s most keenly monitored programmes, the announcement of SBM was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Gandhi himself had led campaigns for clean drinking water and improved hygiene amongst his countrymen. In 2014, when this mission was announced, India had approximately 530 million people practicing open defecation—the highest in the world.
The aim was to construct 100 million toilets in rural India to eliminate open defecation and end manual scavenging to improve the socio-economic conditions of the poorest castes in India. With the launch of the second phase of the Clean India Mission, India wants to take forward one of its most effective policies on health, sanitation, environment, dignity and behavior change..