Four years ago, marking Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched on October 2nd, 2014. The Indian Government since then has successfully eradicated open defecation in 513 districts and 25 states across the country. 86.6 million Toilets have been built to better the nation’s hygiene and sanitary. The website here helps monitor the progress in real time.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) applauded this step taken by the Indian Government. The flagship initiative- Swachh Bharat has garnered success and appreciation from various countries across the world. Gates also spoke on the substantially increasing sanitation and economic growth of India at the Goalkeepers event in New York.
“In urban areas, simply digging a pit doesn’t work and you don’t want to dump it into the river; you want to run it through processing. So, through partners, particularly in India and China, we now have much better processing equipment,” Bill Gates said.
The government was faced with the biggest challenge of processing the million tonnes of faecal sludge generated and collected from open pits and septic tanks. When left in the open the sludge can cause harm and be fatal to health.
“So far, the progress is impressive. In 2014, when Clean India began, just 42 per cent of Indians had access to proper sanitation. Today 63 per cent do. And the government has a detailed plan to finish the job by October 2, 2019, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. Officials know which states are on track and which are lagging behind, thanks to a robust reporting system that includes photographing and geotagging each newly installed toilet.”, Gates wrote on his blog page. (Source: Gates Notes)
The hard work is paying off with more than 30 per cent of Indian villages declared free of open defecation, up from 8 per cent in 2014.
Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation work closely with India to enable widespread use of safely managed, sustainable sanitation services, contributing to positive health, economic, and gender equality outcomes for the world’s poorest.