It’s the 3rd anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals today. What have we achieved since the world signed this ambitious document to end hunger by 2030 and achieve good quality water and sanitation for all? Are we heading towards a green and healthy planet and healthy lives for all by 2030 or are the goals further away than before?
Around the world many events are taking place to celebrate SDG day. It is a day of stocktaking of progress and set-backs, of good examples and new policies and practices. We put in the spotlight the progress that is being made in India.
To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2 October 2014. The Mission aims to achieve a “Swachh Bharat” (“Clean India”) by 2019 and put an end to open defecation, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. Emphasis is placed on awareness raising to achieve behaviour change and create a demand for sanitary facilities in houses, schools and public spaces as well as for waste management activities. Open Defecation Free villages can only be achieved if all individuals and households conform to the use of a toilet every day and every time. Community action and peer pressure on the outliers are key. Appropriate participation of the beneficiary/communities, financially or otherwise in the setting up of the toilets is advised to promote ownership and sustained use, both at the household and community levels.
In 2017 sanitation coverage had increased from 39% to 69%. This was impressive, but efforts were stepped up to reach the, “hardest to reach”, final 30% of the population without sanitation. Swachh Bharat Mission has picked up great momentum this year and it is on the way to achieve the target of ending open defecation by 2 October 2019.