The World Bank has approved a fund of $1.5bn (£999m) for India's campaign to improve sanitation across the country. Swachh Bharat (Clean India Mission) was launched by Narendra Modi's government after he was elected in 2014.
One in every 10 deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation, according to World Bank statistics. Its fund will support the Indian government in implementing the rural component of the Swachh Bharat, which will aim to promote behaviour change in rural communities based on performance-based incentives. The World Bank has said 80% of those who suffer from poor sanitation in India live in rural areas.
Modi's Swachh Bharat campaign is said to be India's "largest-ever drive to end open defecation and improve sanitation". The World Bank has stated that as many as three out of five people in rural India are forced to defecate in the open. The overall aim of Swachh Bharat is not only to put an end to this but to ensure the government's goal of a clean India by 2 October 2019, Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
"The new mission is time-bound and result-oriented," a spokesperson for the World Bank said. "Given India's enormous diversity, it accords flexibility to the states to adopt delivery models most suited to their local contexts, while making budgetary resources and technical assistance available from the central government."
The World Bank has stated that an annual nationwide sample survey of rural sanitation will be conducted every year by independent agencies and sanitation improvements will be measured. The results will determine the release of funds to the Indian government to continue with the campaign.
The World Bank is also going to be providing an additional $25m (£16.6m) in technical assistance for selected state governments, which will aid them in implementing community-led behavioural change campaigns. State governments will be responsible for overseeing the transition of people defecating in the open to using toilet in households.
On 14 December, Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter Usha Gokani commended the Swachh Bharat efforts, saying it would drive India's economic strength. She also referred to the words of her late grandfather, who had said sanitation was more important than an independent India.
"India is still a developing country because of poverty, lack of education, lack of cleanliness and other social issues," Gokani said. "We need to eliminate all the bad things from society that are obstructing growth of our country."