Swachh Bharat Mission

[Op-ed snap]The ABCDEF of implementation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Government policies and intervention for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context

Over the years many well-designed schemes failed to make a significant dent on the lack of access to basic services that a large proportion of our population faced. However, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has thrown up six guiding principles, which can be applied to any large transformation scheme.

What made the difference?

  • Final delivery of service was considered as the only metric of success.
  • There has been a relentless emphasis on taking all schemes to fruition on the ground.
  • The success has thrown up six important guiding principles that can be applied to any large transformation scheme — the ABCEDF of implementation.

A-Align

  • Different people at different levels may have competing priorities. So, goal congruence has to be achieved across the administrative ecosystem i.e. aligning the goal.
  • The message must percolate down to all the levels.
  • After the announcement of SBM the Department of Drinking water and Sanitation had to ensure that the message reaches the Chief Ministers, 700 district collectors, and 2,50,000 sarpanches.
  • The three layers of the PM-CM-DM model working in cohesion is the first and most important step towards policy translating into real delivery.
  • Team SBM-Grameen ensured sanitation remained on everyone’s agenda.

B-Believe

  • Believing in the set goal is crucial for achieving success.
  • When faced with seemingly insurmountable goals, teams that don’t genuinely believe that the goal can be achieved find themselves not motivated enough.
  • This lack of motivation results in them not trying enough and not achieving results- a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • So, the next important step is to build a team of people who believes that the goal is achievable.
  • The SBM brought in a unique blend of young professionals and experienced but driven bureaucrats, at the center and in the states, and each person quickly became a believer.

C-Communicate

  • At its core, SBM is a behavioral change program.
  • Communication at all levels, above and below the line, mass and inter-personal, is fundamental to the SBM.
  • Trained grassroots volunteers called Swachagrahis were created, who went from door to door to communicate the message of swachhata.
  •  SBM attempted to make sanitation glamorous.
  • Glamour was sought to achieve by engaging extensively with media, leveraging popular culture, and associating Bollywood stars, sportspersons, and other influencers.
  • A recent study estimated that each rural Indian was reached by SBM messaging about 3,000 times over the past five years.

D-Democratise

  • Democratize means developing a feeling of belonging or being part of something.
  • SBM has become a sort of Jan Andolan.
  • It nudged people to realise that sanitation is not an individual good, but a community good, as its full benefits accrue only when it is universal.
  •  Over the years, everyone became a stakeholder and sanitation became everyone’s business.
  • Even corporates, NGOs, civil society organizations and other government ministries and departments played a role in mainstreaming sanitation.

E-Evaluate

  • The SBM was operating at a massive scale in a largely decentralised manner
  • As progress started surpassing expectations many people questioned the veracity of official administrative progress figures.
  • So, it became important to encourage third-party monitoring.
  • The monitoring evaluates outputs, outcomes, and impacts to reinforce the credibility and keep the implementers motivated.
  • At the same time, pockets of excellence emerged which deserved to be studied and shared with others to replicate.
  • The various organization conducted an assessment with regard to various factors.
  • World Bank, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and WHO conducted various assessments of sanitation coverage and usage, successes and areas of improvement, as well as the health, economic and social impacts of the SBM.

F-Follow-through

  • There is a strong focus on not declaring SBM a “mission accomplished”.
  • The SBM is continuing to work towards sustaining the ODF behaviour and ensuring that no one is left behind.
  • Recently released a forward-looking 10-year sanitation strategy, articulating the goal of moving from ODF to ODF Plus.
  • This post-delivery follow-through is critical to ensure that the change becomes the norm and that things don’t reset to what they used to be in the past.

Conclusion

The lessons learned from SBM and these guiding principles could be applied in the implementation of other such policies. And aligning with this goal, the Jal Jeevan Mission is being designed to deliver, based on the ABCDEF of implementation.

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