Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from India Development Review, author Pratima Joshi investigates the Swachh Bharat Mission, an initiative of the government to work toward a clean, open-defecation free India by 2019. She finds that the mission has largely been a success, but the gaps within the program indicate how nonprofits, businesses, and government can finish the job.

• What can philanthropists learn from SBM? What is applicable to causes other than sanitation? What advice would the director of SBM give to a philanthropist beginning a similarly large-scale initiative?

• To learn what one research project taught us about SBM, click here.


The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) ... was launched on Oct 2, 2014, with a larger vision of a clean India. The critical aspect of the mission was that—unlike many of the movements that preceded it—this had a measurable outcome (making India open defecation free) and a firm timeline (by 2019).

Having a mandate like this from the government gave nonprofits already working in the field of urban sanitation a major impetus, since prior to this it was a space largely neglected by policy makers.

Over the last four years, there is a lot that the SBM has achieved. Through the gaps in the programme, however, there are important lessons that we can learn on what work needs to be done to help meet the mission of a cleaner India, and how best we should go ahead with that work.

If we have to reach the target of an ODF India in less than a year, we need to study some of the gaps in the SBM, and identify certain key action and policy recommendations.

1. There is a lack of granular data

One of the major drawbacks has been the absence of use of granular spatial data to make informed decisions and plan targeted interventions.

2. Outputs have been measured, not outcomes

The measurability of the campaign has been largely focused on the construction of and access to toilets—the actual need assessment and behaviour change has not been measured with the same exuberance.

3. The focus has been limited to toilet construction

To make India ODF, just the construction of toilets is not enough. Areas such as behaviour change, monitoring and tracking, and faecal sludge management are some of the other parameters that need attention.

Read the full article about public sanitation by Pratima Joshi at India Development Review