An ODF experiment that succeeded

Demand compression uses socioeconomic household surveys to determine who genuinely could not afford to construct a toilet without financial help

GN Bureau | October 17, 2017


#World Bank   #open defecation   #Swachh Bharat   #toilet   #ODF   #Compressed demand  
Photo: Arun Kumar
Photo: Arun Kumar

An experiment carried out to make Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district Open Defecation Free (ODF) succeeded due to an official’s innovative approach, noted a World Bank blog.

 
The blog “Compressed demand”: How Uttar Pradesh is making sure rural sanitation subsidies for toilets go to the most needy” said that when the “Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin” (SBM-G) was launched in October 2014 with the goal of making rural India free from open defecation by 2019, it gave states and districts more flexibility than previous national sanitation programmes had. This led to a successful experiment in Uttar Pradesh called “demand compression”.
 
 
Arun Kumar Dobhal, senior water and sanitation specialist, said the state was preparing to use a tried-and-tested triggering process, where trained motivators concentrate their efforts on a community to help improve their understanding of safe sanitation and stimulate demand for toilets in rural communities where open defecation is still common. However, they faced a problem. If all the households that were eligible for government subsidies would actually claim them, funds would soon run out. With an estimated 15 million households across Uttar Pradesh without a toilet and eligible for a government subsidy of around $200, about $3 billion would be needed.
 
Offering a government subsidy is an important part of the “triggering” process since it helps get households in rural communities to want a toilet. However, a sudden surge in toilet demand could overwhelm the capacity to process subsidy payments within a reasonable timeframe, which would have undermined the effort to mobilize communities and trigger toilet demand.
 
 
“Vijay Kiran Anand, district magistrate in the district of Bijnor, was quick to realize that the flexibility of the SBM-G guidelines gave him an opportunity to try something called “demand compression”. This uses socioeconomic household surveys to narrow down the number of households eligible for a subsidy before starting the triggering process, by determining who genuinely could not afford to construct a toilet without financial help,” said the blog
 
The teams quickly found that their list of eligible households – based on 2012 household survey data – needed updating, as some of the neediest households did not qualify for a subsidy while many households that were on the eligible list clearly had the resources to construct a toilet themselves.
 
The teams sought consensus in the community on which households would not have the means to build a toilet without a subsidy. This resulted in taking wealthier households – such as those which owned two-story houses, significant amounts of land, a car or a tractor – off the list, and offering subsidies only to the very poor, widows, and people with disabilities.
 
“This process was termed “demand compression”, as it effectively compresses the demand for subsidies and targets it to those who truly are in need. It was an arduous task, requiring both detailed surveys, perseverance and negotiation skills. The initial lists were verified twice: first cross-checked with the national ministry’s database, then sent back to the communities to ensure that nobody in genuine need had been left out. The final list was formally approved by the Village Panchayat and then by the District Sanitation Committee, who is responsible for the programme implementation. In Bijnor district, this approach translated into 40% fewer households being eligible for a subsidy. Compressing the toilet demand by 1,00,000 people in Bijnor reduced the district’s outlay on subsidies by around $20 million, monies which were made available to poor households in other districts,” wrote Dobhal.
 
When they realized how cost-effective the “compressed demand” was in Bijnor, other district magistrates in Uttar Pradesh adopted the strategy. They achieved varying levels of compression, depending on the district’s number of poor people. The eligibility list was shortened by around 40% in the relatively prosperous western district of Meerut, for example, but only by around 20% in the poorer eastern district of Varanasi. An alternative strategy, pioneered with success in the district of Shamli, was to keep more households on the list but reduce the level of subsidy to about $160.
 
Anand, who pioneered the strategy in Bijnor, has since been appointed the statewide mission director of SBM-G and is currently scaling up the approach in other districts. 

Comments

 

Other News

An eye on AI

Google Assistant, Rekognition and Tay. All these, often seen in news, have a common thread – they are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Only difference is that while some have been in news for right reasons, some others have made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For instance, Goo

Data-powered economy

1.33 billion. Let that large number sink in. That number is nearly 18 percent of the total global population, and almost the number of people estimated to currently reside in the republic of India, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. These 1.33 billion people are spread across a

Dams or time bombs?

Kerala is limping back to normal after the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in the state prompting red alert in all 14 of its districts. While the rescue activities and immediate relief are now a thing of the past, the state is struggling to turn a new page and the focus is on reconstruction an

The imprint of the Gurjara Pratiharas

On August 16, when the country lost its beloved former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a nondescript village, 70 km from Agra, came into the limelight. Bateshwar, the ancestral village of Vajpayee, is situated along the notorious Chambal ravines on the banks of the Yamuna. Vajpayee&rsq

Imagining the worst

Love Sonia is not a film you would want to watch if you knew its subject: sex trafficking. Without even a scene experienced, the subject induces visceral revulsion. However optimistic the screenplay, it can only deal in ugly dregs and bring up retching bile. Even so, Love Sonia, gritty an

India’s balancing act with China

On the first day of his August 19-20 visit to India, when Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera held talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman, several defence and strategic-related issues had cropped up in their annual talks. But a big smile flashed on Sithraman’s face when Onodera,

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter