National Workshop on Solid and Liquid Waste Management under Swachh Bharat

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How to measure village cleanliness?

On the concluding day of the ongoing National Workshop on solid and liquid waste management (SLWM), under the aegis of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural), experts on the subject, academicians, practioners, development partners, district, state and national level executives and representatives from international organizations contemplated on various issues of SLWM. More importantly, focus was on cost effective safe disposal of the waste with best of the technology suitable for the local needs.

Participants discussed at length how SLWM could be made an integral part of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Unanimous opinion was that the solution lies in behavioural and attitudinal change, which can come with information, education and communication, to motivate people to practice safe SLWM. Role of media, print, electronic and social, in dissemination the cleanliness awareness among the masses was also highlighted. Technologies mostly developed locally were discussed that can easily be adapted elsewhere with local customization.

One of the major challenges before the government is to identify and formalize, easily measurable indicators of village cleanliness. Diversity of the country and the gigantic number of villages (about 6.5 lakh) with huge variations, make the task of establishingswachhta indicators very difficult.

Introducing the importance of such an index to measure village cleanliness and its utility in identifying and planning for individual village’s waste solutions, Additional Secretary (Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation), Government of India, Shri Sarasawati Prasad informed the workshop that a thorough survey covering 70,000 households was conducted by the Ministry to know rural cleanliness perception.

Based on a regression analysis of the data gathered, an index of village cleanliness was arrived at, having different weightage to the four components of cleanliness, i.e. access to safe sanitation, no litter around the households, no stagnant water in village, and no litter around the public places.

A poll conducted the day before and the opinion of participants was also synonymous to the larger survey. The Additional Secretary also informed that the cleanliness data from each gram sabha will be gathered periodically and captured on the Management Information System (MIS) of the Ministry. It will immensely help policy makers, planners and the executives to conclude in which direction they have to proceed to reach the target of Swachh Bharat by October 2, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.