The Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in India

Date: 15th May 2015

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Executing Agency:
NRMC India Private Ltd
Programme duration:
Programme Coordinating Mechanism:
Hosted by the India WASH Forum

The GSF-supported programme was designed to be a catalyst for large-scale change by demonstrating effective behaviour change approaches to help tackle the enormous sanitation challenge in India. The programme engages NGOs, private sector organizations and state networks as implementing partners in targeted blocks in the states of Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand. The programme actively supports and ensures consistency with the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission, aimed at universal sanitation coverage by 2019. This includes supporting partners to effectively utilize available funds for collective behavior change, infrastructure and other sanitation services.

2016 Highlights

In 2016, two GSF-supported blocks in Bihar were certified as ODF, demonstrating the viability of the GSF model. They were Piprasi Block, which became one of the first in Bihar to achieve this milestone, followed by Rajgir Block. Close to 40,000 residents now have access to sanitation facilities and are reported to be actively using the facilities. Schools and health centres are also equipped with facilities. In addition, after 6,000 households were triggered in a one-month period, six thousand toilets were constructed within three months. This success story has helped raise the ambition of government planning and policy making stakeholders, who are using this evidence and learning to achieve more ODF blocks.

Throughout the year, the programme actively engaged stakeholders to promote increased incorporation of sanitation and collective behaviour change in state and district annual plans. This has helped lead to the inclusion of distinct behaviour change components in state plans. Support was also provided to state and district partners to enhance their implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission activities. This included supporting the development of state guidelines in Bihar, supporting regional workshops and facilitating learning visits to GSF-supported communities.


Assam, Bihar – the most densely populated state in India – and Jharkhand have some of the highest levels of open defecation and most marginalized communities in the country. To address sanitation challenges, the programme works with all stakeholders to facilitate CLTS, influence policy, boost coordination and build capacity.

In Bihar, the responsibility for managing the sanitation campaign shifted to the Rural Development Department, slowing implementation due to the need to sensitize new partners. However, the move has provided an overall boost for rural sanitation work. In addition, the programme is working with government partners to address security risks related to extremist activity in Dumka district, Jharkhand.

Learning and innovation

The programme supported a range of learning and advocacy events in 2016. This included a sanitation summit in Jharkhand, where the chief minister set October 2018 as the date for an ODF Jharkhand. The programme also facilitated menstrual hygiene management learning sessions and promoted the WSSCC-driven ‘Leave No One Behind’ campaign by facilitating discussions on its results.

In addition, the programme partnered with the Policy Research Center in New Delhi on a study exploring challenges around institutionalizing ODF status, which included examining ODF sustainability and slippage. The study’s findings will be shared in 2017.

The programme also continued to share widely accessed documentation across all targeted states, including posters showcasing toilet options in Jharkhand and a checklist for households and communities to construct appropriate toilets in Assam.

Creative approaches in 2016 included engaging village self-help groups through state-run rural livelihoods programmes in Bihar and Jharkhand, and engaging religious leaders of various faiths as WASH ambassadors, to help drive community sanitation movements. In Jharkhand, the programme also supported a government-led campaign mobilizing school children to encourage their households and communities to end open defecation and build sanitation facilities.

Looking ahead

Key focus areas in 2017 will include promoting technology options and supporting solid and liquid waste management. In addition, an independent outcome survey on the sustainability of the programme’s results will be carried out.

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