New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), which was launched in October 2014, attracted international attention. An international study tried to estimate and compare major economic costs and benefits associated with sanitation improvement achieved during three years of SBM from households’ financial and economic perspectives and a broader societal perspective.
The study paper, authored by Guy Hutton, Nicolas Osbert, Sumeet Patil and Avni Kumar, on "Comparison of the costs and benefits of the Clean India Mission" found that annual benefits of $727 per household are mainly from savings associated with reduced diarrhoea incidence (55%) and from sanitation access time savings (45%).
According to the study, investment costs average US$ 396 per latrine and average annual operational costs are US$37 (financial) and US$ 94 (time costs). Annual benefits of US$ 727 per household are mainly from savings associated with reduced diarrhoea incidence (55%) and from sanitation access time savings (45%).
The estimated Benefit-Cost Ratios (BCRs) are 1.7 (household financial perspective), 4.5 (household economic perspective) and 4.0 (societal perspective) under Open Defecation Free (ODF, corresponding to 100% toilet coverage and usage) scenario.
However, under partial-ODF scenario with 85 percent toilet use rate, the BCRs are 1.1, 3.3 and 3.0, respectively. Probabilistic uncertainty analysis shows that the financial BCRs under the partial-ODF scenario can reduce to 0.7, but societal BCR will remain above 2.
Key highlights of the study:
1. This study reports the first economic analysis of the Clean India Mission
2. Annual economic gains from household sanitation are worth US$727 per household
3. The average price paid for a toilet is US$396, which is double the subsidy received
4. Financial returns on household spending over 10 years is 1.7 times the cost
5. Returns to society on total spending over 10 years is 4.3 times the cost
6. The poorest have a financial return of 2.6 and societal return of 5.7 times the cost
The study shows that the sanitation improvements under the SBM are highly cost-beneficial, more when communities are free of open defecation with all households using private improved sanitation facilities.
Future SBM investments must ensure not only sustaining the universal toilet coverage and usage but also ensure safe faecal waste management so that households continue to enjoy full benefits of sanitation, it added.