Total sanitation campaign: Budgeting for change series - A report by CBGA and UNICEF

This report by the Centre for Governance and Budget Accountability (CGBA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), India, attempts to assess the magnitude of public spending on sanitation in India, specifically on the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), and the quality of spending with regard to the outputs and services delivered. The report aims at understanding the issues that constrained fund utilisation in the Total Sanitation Campaign, right from the Union Government to the State Government level, and further down to the district, block, village and the primary unit of service delivery.

The report builds on two case studies based on secondary data and primary evidence gathered by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) from Barh and Jakhora blocks in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh, and Chhuria and Dongargaon blocks in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. The report thus does not intend to generalise the findings obtained for the rest of India.

The report begins by highlighting the aims of the Total Sanitation Campaign that included:

  • Improving the general quality of life in rural areas
  • Accelerating sanitation coverage in rural areas through access to toilets to all by 2012
  • Motivating communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions through awareness creation and health education
  • Covering schools and Anganwadis in rural areas with sanitation facilities by March 2012, and promote hygiene education and sanitary habits among students
  • Encouraging cost effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation
  • Developing community managed environmental sanitation systems focusing on solid and liquid waste management.
  •  Thus the broader goal of the TSC was to eradicate the practice of open defecation

However, the report argues that an analysis of the spending patterns under the TSC reflected three broad concerns that included:

  • Inadequate funds for the programme
  • States’ inability to draw more funds because of low utilisation levels in the past
  • Poor quality of utilisation.

The major factors that constrained utilisation of funds under TSC included budgetary and institutional bottlenecks such as:

  • Deficiencies in planning: The amount of time and effort required for carrying out bottom-up planning of sanitation facilities was not adequately provided for
  • Bottlenecks in the budgetary process: Several hurdles relating to the existing budgetary processes under the Total Sanitation Campaign impeded  fund utilisation. A delay in fund transfer from the Union Government to the State governments down to the district level was a major factor that constrained utilisation of available funds
  • Systemic weaknesses: A major reason for poor sanitation services was staff shortage in the states. Large-scale vacancies in Programme and Finance Management staff at the district and state levels led to ineffective implementation.

The report concludes by making the following recommendations:

  • The planning process is the first step to bring about changes in the implementation of government programmes catering to providing access to basic rural water supply and sanitation to everyone. In this regard, it is necessary to decentralise the planning process to ensure that the plans are reflective of ground realities.
  • Another critical aspect relates to the budgetary processes. Streamlining fund flow channels to ensure that fund transfers are efficiently managed, with special attention to reducing the hurdles in budgetary transfers, would be a significant step.
  • It is necessary to increase spending on items that cater to the day-to-day management of the programme, such as the maintenance of existing infrastructure and ensuring that human resources at all levels, managerial, programmatic, frontline service providers, and financial management staff are adequately trained for the smooth functioning of the programme
  • The TSC continues to accord higher priority to construction related expenditures with no focus on IEC activities to spread messages about the importance of sanitation. Even within construction costs, Anganwadi /Balwadi toilets have not been accorded as high a priority as individual toilets or school toilets. Two other key components namely, Sanitation Complex and Solid and Liquid Waste Management have also not been implemented despite getting budgetary approval. These need adequate attention at the level of budget planning itself.
  • Significant efforts are required through IEC activities, to sensitise households about the importance of constructing toilets and observing hygiene practices for good health. In addition to increasing investments in construction, in order to increase toilet usage, it will be critical to ensure that community sanitary complexes are maintained.

A copy of the report can be accessed at this link.