In 2015, the Government of India launched Smart Cities Mission, an initiative to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life by enabling local development and harnessing technology. The mission also includes developing school infrastructure and improving classroom activities. Plan India, with USAID and Coca Cola India, launched the ‘Urban WASH – Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya’ (SBSV) project to support the Government of India’s Smart City Mission.
The three-year project which concluded in July 2019, has created a replicable model for developing need-based child-friendly WASH infrastructure in schools. It also advocated the effective use of this infrastructure and its eventual ownership by School Management Committees (SMCs). SBSV created age, gender and ability appropriate infrastructure in 20 schools each in three cities – Vishakhapatnam, Pune and Dehradun. All 3 of these will now scale the project across all government schools in their respective municipalities with support from Plan’s implementation partners.
The project aimed at helping duty bearers, teachers, SMCs, community members and children in realising their right to equitable and sustainable access to improved sanitation facilities and safe drinking water. It also worked to increase awareness on the impact of open defecation and hygiene on health. It prioritised developmental aspects to ensure better enrolment, retention and development of the children and building a conducive learning atmosphere to promote continued education.
SBSV empowered Child WASH Parliaments (Bal Swachhata Samitis) to take part in the close monitoring, proper use and maintenance of school WASH infrastructure. The project engaged municipal and education department personnel for delivering on their responsibilities towards ensuring quality WASH in identified schools. The emphasis was on the participation of girls and engagement around menstrual hygiene management helped address dropout rates.
Plan India developed knowledge products and presented them to the government to ensure sustained maintenance of WASH infrastructure and continued hygienic practices. School WASH forums were established under the aegis of government officials, CSOs, multilateral organisations and the private sector for sustained impact and scalability. Of special note is the development of the children as agents of change to lead the interventions themselves.
- 40 million rupees mobilised by Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) for SBSV model due to Plan’s efforts
- 24,870 children (58.2% girls) provided access to potable water and safe sanitation
- 14% increase (13% for girls) in school enrolment