Swachh Bharat needs long-term commitment

Swachh-Bharat-Abhiyan

Swachh Bharat needs long-term commitment

IN INDIA, THE NATIONWIDE PUSH TO IMPLEMENT THE SWACHH BHARAT MISSION WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS, SUCH AS INDUSTRY AND SCHOOLS, HAS SHOWN PROMISING RESULTS

Four years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission to achieve the vision of a “Clean India” by 2019. Fittingly, October 2, 2019, is also the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who championed sanitation as a national priority. Over the past four years, India has made great progress, building more than 86 million toilets for households, and declaring nearly half a million (470,000) villages free of open defecation.

 

The nation’s founding fathers started the ‘Keep Singapore Clean’ drive Singapore has traveled this journey too. Since independence, we have worked hard to create a clean and green living environment for our people. In the early days, many homes did not have a sewerage system. Nightsoil was collected in buckets, and transported by malodorous trucks to sewerage plants. Often the human waste was dumped into nearby streams and rivers, polluting and poisoning the waters. Unsanitary living conditions created many public health problems, including frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

swatch-bharat

It is not just a plan to clean the environment, but ‘transform the way we think, live and work’

India is a country on a vastly different scale from Singapore. The River Ganga is almost a thousand times longer than the Singapore River. Yet there are some parallels in Singapore’s and India’s sanitation journeys.

First

Both countries’ experiences demonstrate the importance of vision and leadership.  They personally led public campaigns to raise awareness and mobilize the masses. Both picked up brooms and joined the people to clean the streets. Prime Minister Modi has said that Mr. Lee was a “personal inspiration”, and that he had drawn from his idea that “transformation of a nation begins with a change in the way we are”. Indeed, the Swachh Bharat Mission is not just a programme to clean India’s environment, but a deeper reform to “transform the way we think, live and work”.

Second

In India, the nationwide push to implement the Swachh Bharat Mission with key stakeholders, such as industry and schools, has shown promising results. The ‘2018 UNICEF Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools: Global Baseline Report’ highlighted that almost all schools in India have sanitation facilities built, compared to just 50% of schools in 2006.

Third

Both Singapore and India value international cooperation. The same solution may not work in a different country, but we can all benefit by learning from others and sharing experiences. Congratulating India on successfully hosting the inaugural Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention, which has brought together leaders, practitioners, and experts from around the world to share their sanitation stories.

 

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