Open Defecation Free Urban Andhra Pradesh
Swachh Andhra Corporation

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
A majority of Indian citizens do not have access to sanitary toilets, and, as a result, defecate openly. In 2011, Andhra Pradesh found itself in a similar position: a majority of the state’s citizens defecated openly in fields, next to landfills, by drainage canals, or in a multitude of other locations. Open defecation was commonly practiced in both rural areas, where a majority of citizens defecated openly, and in urban areas, where 15% of citizens defecated openly. Open defecation is the cause of several maladies in India. Open defecation spreads dangerous pathogens (both directly, by the feacal-oral transmission chain, and indirectly, by polluting water sources), which in turn infect citizens of all ages. The infection of pregnant women, mothers, and children is one of the primary causes of both India’s high level of maternal/infant mortality and high level of childhood malnutrition (brought about, in large part, by the prevalence dysentery and diarrhea in children). Andhra Pradesh suffers an under-five morality rate of 42/1,000 children and a maternal mortality rate of 90/1,000 births; moreover, urban children suffer from a 31% malnutrition rate. Women, children, and the poor suffer the brunt of public health consequences from a lack of toilet facilities, and women suffer socially as well, as they are forced to venture out before dawn to openly defecate in order to protect their safety and dignity. However, ending open defecation requires more than a government order to construct toilets. Numerous developmental and welfare schemes in India have been stymied by an inability to translate strong policies made in New Delhi or state capitals into on-ground action. For example, “Ghost toilets,” which exist only in the record books of contractors, are a common outcome of what happens when well-intentioned states enact policies without the capacity to monitor and evaluate their own actions. Accordingly, the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) decided that forming a separate, purpose-built institution would be the best way to tackle these urgent problems – better than a conventional ministry. As a result, the Swachh Andhra Corporation (SAC) was created to implement the state’s component of the national Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission). It faced several challenges: How can it ensure that money earmarked for toilet construction went to recipients rather than middlemen? – How could it ensure that high-quality toilets were actually built, and didn’t exist only on paper? – How could the state government ensure that every citizen eligible for subsidies received them, rather than just the politically and patronage-supported few? How could it be ensured that all the family members use the toilet and do not covert toilet into a space used for other purposes? In short – how could the state hold itself accountable, and, moreover, allow everyday citizens to hold it accountable. Eliminating open defecation by constructing toilets was the goal, but, in order to achieve this goal, the state needed a plan to build its own capabilities.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In order to address these challenges, the Swachh Andhra Corporation operationalized a process by which money was dispersed in stages directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts through the software developed by TCS. This disbursement took place after the photographing and geo-tagging of each stage of toilet construction, ensuring that funds were only given after the toilets’ existence was verified and validated. The data (identify of household, photographs, and location) was meanwhile simultaneously uploaded to SAC’s publicly accessible online database, which is organized from the district level down to the individual household level to enable total transparency.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Over the course of 2016, municipalities began declaring themselves open defecation free (ODF), culminating on October 2, 2016, when Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu declared that all of Andhra Pradesh’s 110 urban local bodies (ULBs) were open defecation free. Over the next several months, the Quality Council of India conducted a third-party validation of these municipalities’ declarations and verified the declarations (details in response 13). Designating an ULB as ODF required action on two fronts. First, infrastructure had to be built so that every citizen could access a sanitary toilet. Second, citizens had to be convinced to use toilets: for many, open defecation was a habit built over a lifetime, and not simply a response to the unavailability of toilets. In 2011, before the Swachh Andhra Corporation was founded, 15% of households in urban Andhra Pradesh did not have access to sanitary toilet facilities. Accordingly, SAC initially focused its efforts on two main populations: those without any household toilets, and those who had insanitary toilets. In this context, the term “insanitary toilets” refers to toilets whose refuse is either sent directly into communal open drains or into a single pit containment facility. These insanitary toilets, while perhaps preserving users’ individual hygiene, contaminate the environment and contribute to the public health crisis caused by open defecation. The Swachh Andhra Corporation provided funds for each of these two groups. Families in Andhra Pradesh building their individual household toilets were given ₹15,000 (approximately $220), one of the highest amounts in India. Families seeking to rehabilitate insanitary toilets were given either ₹4,000, ₹5,000, or ₹7,500 depending on the scope of the improvements needed. These funds were provided by both the Government of Andhra Pradesh through SAC and the Government of India through the Swachh Bharat Mission: GoAP funded ₹11,000 out of ₹15,000 for individual toilets – more than most other states, and the costs for converting insanitary latrines were split between GoAP and GoI. However, despite these subsidies, many families were still unable to build individual household toilets. In many neighborhoods, particularly in low-income areas, households simply do not have the space to build a toilet and containment facility. To address these households’ needs, SAC sponsored a program of community toilet construction. These community toilets were placed such that every household without its own toilet could access a community toilet of its own within 250-300 meters. In addition to toilets, these communal facilities were often built with attached bathing and clothes-washing areas so that neighborhood residents could access clean facilities for a number of household chores. By constructing individual and communal toilets, SAC provided sanitary, dignified, and accessible toilets to all households. Yet this still would not have been enough: many municipalities are home to large “floating populations” who come into town temporarily; moreover, there were many “OD spots” used by municipal residents near major markets, bus/train stations, and temples. To ensure that these citizens could use toilets when away from home, SAC sponsored the construction of numerous public latrines. Initially, capital expenses for these toilets were funded on a public-private-partnership basis: however, the expenses in constructing a toilet were not matched by the income expected from operations; accordingly, SAC began funding the construction while arranging public-private partnerships for operations and maintenance. In a similar vein, many school toilets were built or refurbished as needed; before their construction, children (particularly boys) would defecate in the nearest open lot. Lastly, SAC realized that while the construction of toilets was necessary, it would not be sufficient, and so began sponsoring a variety of behavioral change campaigns both at a grassroots level and on a state-wide level.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Swachh Bharat Mission is an initiative of GoI; every state is building toilets. The Government of Andhra Pradesh, through the SAC, is providing more funding than other states; nevertheless, this is primarily a financial matter. What Andhra Pradesh has done to distinguish its program is create an unparalleled degree of transparency and accountability. Money flows to beneficiaries’ bank accounts (verified by their Aadhar Card – a biometric national ID), and recipient information is publicly available. These beneficiaries, either individually or through their local SHF or SLF, arrange for construction themselves rather than through government. Before any money is dispersed, a geo-tagged photograph of the site (with longitude and latitude) is publicly uploaded, and at each stage when subsidies are dispersed, a geo-tagged photograph is uploaded to display that work that has been completed. Similar procedures are followed for community, school, and public toilets – every citizen can see exactly how their tax rupees are being spent. Moreover, these infrastructure efforts are paired with household-targeted IEC activities to ensure that toilets are not only built, but used. The Swachh Andhra Corporation realized that increased funding means little without transparency and accountability; the combination, however, can result in vastly improved public service delivery.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was implemented by a coalition of groups. The Swachh Andhra Corporation led statewide coordination and planning, designed the architecture of the scheme, and was responsible for the disbursement of funds, while individual municipal authorities were responsible for the geo-tagging and verification of beneficiaries. In some cases, local Self-Help Groups (community organizations in low-income areas) took responsibility for constructing communal or household toilets; in most cases, citizens themselves were responsible for arranging the construction by local masons and builders. In terms of size, the initiative covered every urban municipality over the thirteen districts of Andhra Pradesh, an area of 163,000 km2 with an urban population of 14,610, 410 (2011 Census). Over 173,000 individual household toilets were constructed, as well as 759 community toilet facilities (total of 7,748 toilet seats – 3073 for men and 4675 for women), 489 public toilet facilities (4,758 seats – 2524 for men and 2234 for women), and 1,256 school toilet facilities. Accounting for an average household size of five and a user ratio (specified by GoI) of 1 seat per 30 individuals for group facilities, the number of users for individual, community, public, and school toilets, significantly over one million people have benefited from the initiative.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Coordinating the construction and funding of tens of thousands of toilets across one hundred and ten municipalities required considerable coordination between municipal and state officials. However, before citizens applied for subsidies through Swachh Andhra, they needed to be both informed of the subsidies’ existence and also provided with details of how to apply for the subsidies. This process was led by municipalities, who informed citizens of existence of the program by notifying community groups, particularly Self Help Groups (SHG) and Slum Level Federations (SLF), working through municipal ward councilors (local elected officials), or utilizing public advertisements. Once a citizen applied for the subsidy, verification of their eligibility (not having a toilet already, and living in the residence) would be conducted by an Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) or members of the local SLF. At this point, citizens would verify their identity and bank account via their Aadhar Card (a national biometric ID). During this process, a geo-tagged photograph displaying the premises on which the toilet was to be built would be uploaded onto SAC’s publicly accessible database. Once the beneficiary’s identity, location, and eligibility were verified, they would be instructed to begin construction. Subsides were given out in three stages. Once a beneficiary had completed the below-ground work (either a twin-pit or a septic tank), an AEE would verify the work, upload a geo-tagged photograph, and the first payment (INR 5,000) would be sent directly to the beneficiary’s bank account. The beneficiaries followed a similar process for the next two stages: the second payment would be disbursed after a photograph displaying a completed super-structure was uploaded, and final payments were sent after a geo-tagged picture of the complete structure was uploaded. All of these photographs and the attached geographic information are publicly available on SAC’s online database ( For every individual toilet, ₹11,000 was provided by GoAP, and ₹4,000 was provided by GoI through SBM. The Swachh Andhra Corporation’s internal operations are funded by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. Municipalities assisting with the verification and validation on-ground are funded by their own independent dedicated revenue streams (predominantly state/central grants and property taxation). The process for building community and public toilet facilities differed significantly from the process of supporting the construction of household toilets, and also from each other. Community toilets are primarily built for communities where the construction of IHHTs is impractical due to space constraints; public toilets are generally built near markets or transit hubs – locations away from home where groups of people spend considerable amounts of time. In each case, individual municipalities assessed the neighborhoods and public sites to determine the need for communal or public facilities. For community toilets, this process included field surveys identifying and enumerating all families who lived in the vicinity in order to establish the user base for the community toilet. If it was decided that a community toilet was needed, municipalities would begin campaigns through the local SLF to sensitize local residents on the importance of using proper toilets before the new facility was completed. Management and maintenance of public and community toilets would then be arranged either through local civic groups (SHGs, SLFs), or in partnership with one of the eleven empaneled operators (who collect money through user fees in order to maintain and operate the facilities). These public and community toilets cost ₹98,000 per seat; the Government of Andhra Pradesh pays ₹58,800, while the Government of India contributes ₹39,200. The costs for these toilets are considerably higher than those for individual households as they require significantly more land, a larger physical structure, and more comprehensive containment infrastructure for septage and sewage.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Eliminating open defecation in urban Andhra Pradesh required the coordination of officials throughout the state and national government. The national government, through the Swachh Bharat Mission and the Ministry of Urban Development, established the basic framework, provided technical guidelines, and provided partial funding. However, their role was limited with regards to statewide implementation. The Swachh Andhra Corporation was founded in May 2015 by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who sits as the Chairman of the Board of Swachh Andhra Mission. The SAC is under the direct oversight of Dr. P. Narayana, Minister for Administration and Urban Development, and is led by Managing Director D. Muralidhar Reddy, IAS. Additionally, many ministers sit on the board of the Swachh Andhra Mission and SAC coordinates closely in its endeavors particularly closely with the Panchayat Raj Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Human Resource Development. The Swachh Andhra Corporation works through the 110 urban local bodies, each of which is led by a Council Chair, who acts as the political leader of the municipality, and a Commissioner, who functions as the administrative leader. Within municipalities, authorities work with local Self Help Groups and Slum Level Federations to identify potential beneficiaries, construct individual toilets, identify sites for communal/public toilets, and persuade citizens of the importance of proper toilet usage, cleanliness, and sanitation. Working together, and coordinated by the Swachh Andhra Corporation, these stakeholders have succeeded in eliminating open defecation throughout urban Andhra Pradesh.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Quality Council of India, conducting a third-party assessment have announced that open defecation in Urban Andhra Pradesh has been eliminated. This is by far the most successful output: as of the most 2011 census, over fifteen percent of urban families habitually defecated openly – this number has now been reduced to approximately zero. The cause of these efforts was the construction of over 170,000 individual household toilets, 758 communal toilet facilities, 486 public toilet facilities, and 1,247 school toilet facilities. Moreover, each toilet and facility’s location and presence can be verified by any interested citizen, facilitating transparency and ensuring accountability. This transparency and accountability was one of the biggest factors ensuring the initiative’s success and effectiveness; similar efforts in India to subsidize public goods for poor and disadvantaged citizens often floundered (and still face difficulties) in implementation due to extensive “leakage” along the value and supply chain. By verifying citizens’ identification through Aadhar cards and then disbursing money directly into bank accounts, such “leakage” was eliminated. However, the number of toilets constructed is not the only story – open defecation has only been eliminated due to the combination of infrastructure development and public campaigning against open defecation. The Swachh Andhra Corporation has conducted an extensive behavioral change campaign, both working with grassroots organizations and promoting sanitation through radio advertisements, billboards, posters on buses/trains, school events, plays, workshops, and other media all over the state. Often, these larger-scale advertisements were located at known Open Defecation hotspots, as part of a targeted campaign to reach those most likely to openly defecate. In fact, all ULBs were responsible for mapping out individual OD hotspots in order to conduct individual and household-level interactions focusing on persuading individuals to cease openly defecating. The larger-scale campaign was subject to an extensive internally-conducted evaluation which surveyed over 17,000 citizens across Andhra Pradesh to solicit their opinions on tactics and specific advertisements in order to strengthen the campaign. These grassroots efforts have been complimented by an online infrastructure utilizing the Swachh Andhra Corporation’s mobile app, called the “Swachh App,” which not only locates and displays all public, community, and school toilet, but enables citizens to take their own pictures of the toilets and send them to the SAC as a feedback mechanism. This citizen feedback mechanism ensures that ULBs and service providers remain accountable for maintaining safe, dignified, and hygienic toilet facilities for all citizens.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The Swachh Andhra Corporation’s campaign against open defecation faced two sets of obstacles. The first set was technical: for example, flush toilets with attached twin pits or septic tanks could not be easily constructed everywhere. In some areas, soil or topographical conditions did not permit individuals to build their own containment units. Particularly in hilly and rocky areas, where the digging of pits becomes difficult, topographic conditions made building individual containment units difficult. In response, the SAC modified the standard plans, and sponsored systems whereby ten to twelve households would be linked to a common larger septic tank via a gravity-flow drainage system. Along similar lines, SAC faced difficulties in training municipal staff how to use the online database: many had never facilitated approvals via digital signatures or approved significant financial expenses via a website or mobile-phone app. This adaptation took considerable time and SAC invested significant time and resources into visiting municipalities over the state to conduct training programs and workshops to ensure that every ULB could actively participate in the initiative. The second set of obstacles was broader in scope: people don’t change their habits overnight, and building toilets doesn’t immediately result in usage. Commonly, after a toilet is built, it is used by women and children, but men would still prefer to defecate openly as they were accustomed to. This challenge is still being met by SAC’s IEBC (Information, Education, and Behavioral Change) work; while open defecation has been vastly reduced in urban Andhra Pradesh via concerted campaigns, slippage – a return of open defecation – is still possible without continued behavioral change campaigns.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The key benefit from this initiative was the reduction and elimination of open defecation throughout urban Andhra Pradesh. This is expected to bring about significant benefits to public health: open defecation is one of the prime vectors through which many diseases, especially those caught by children, spread. Moreover, the construction of toilet infrastructure has brought dignity to the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable. Before the construction of these toilets, both at the individual household level and at the community level, women were forced to openly defecate early in the morning, before dawn, in order to obtain some modicum of privacy. Children habitually defecated openly at all times of day without any privacy whatsoever. While the majority of urban residents have long expected privacy and dignity as a baseline requirement when using toilets, for too long, poor citizens were unable to access even this small zone of dignity– but no longer. Andhra Pradesh’s one hundred and ten towns have now been certified to be free of open defecation, and even the poorest and most vulnerable citizens are no longer forced to defecate openly, but can use toilets with privacy. The initiative, far from being top-down, was run as a participatory program at all levels. Approximately half (over 85,000) of the individual toilets constructed were built through Slum Level Federations. These Slum Level Federations are each comprised of 20-25 Self-Help Groups, each of which, in turn, is made up of 10-12 women who work to improve the community and pool resources to encourage savings and mutual borrowing. By utilizing Slum Level Federations, SAC was going beyond inviting the “public” at large to participate, but was specifically calling for the participation of women in decision-making: who needed toilets, where should they be located, how should they be built? These same Slum Level Federations were not only involved in the planning of community toilets when individual household toilets proved logistically or spatially impractical, but were also involved in the planning and structuring of operations and maintenance of community toilets. This is particularly important because over the years, many governments have invested in the construction of new infrastructure to win the favor of voting citizens, only to neglect proper maintenance procedures. To counter this trend, the Swachh Andhra Corporation has been establishing procedures and contracts for the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) for community, public, and school toilets on the same occasion they are built. These toilets are then displayed on the Swachh App, and subject to feedback from users, who can take photographs of the toilet conditions and upload them to the SAC database if proper standards are not being met. All of this has been measured and verified by the Quality Council of India, an organization jointly set up by the Government of India and three leading Indian industrial associations (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)) to establish and maintain national accreditation measures.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Swachh Andhra Corporation’s program against urban open defecation improved the integrity of government provisioning and reduced the potential for corruption by its very structure. The SAC’s initiative was built to satisfy two central conditions: first, money would be delivered directly to beneficiaries without the interference of middlemen; second, all work had to be displayed publicly. Both conditions were crucial to combat corruption. Anti-poverty and development programs exist all over India; some are exceptionally well-designed and well-managed – these programs deliver significant benefits to citizens. Other programs suffer from the same principal-agent problems that plague every organization, except at greater scale and greater cost. Even when leadership in state capitals is well-meaning and intolerant of corruption, monitoring the activities of regional and local officials in a state with an urban population over 14 million is an enormous challenge. This is particularly the case when any resources dedicated to monitoring must be taken away from the very provisioning of services that the monitors will supervise. Monitoring programs not only requires considerable manpower and expertise, but also places burdens on the officials being overseen – increasing the amount of paperwork and compliance at the cost of reducing actual work done. In several important ways, the Swachh Andhra Corporation escaped this trap: individuals are responsible for arranging the construction of toilets themselves, so small-scale contracts can be arranged quickly and informally without the possibility of corruption, but also without the months-to-years expended in standard tendering processes. Slum Level Federations, made up of ordinary neighborhood citizens, can be relied upon to monitor community toilets with the interests of the community at heart. Moreover, even the possibility of ordinary residents taking advantage of government subsides is eliminated – money is only disbursed after a geo-tagged photograph displaying construction is uploaded and verified. As a result, the process enables cost-effective monitoring and accountability, avoiding the twinned dangers of corruption and “leakage” or excessive bureaucracy and near-superfluous paperwork. The measurement, in fact, is the very program itself: any individual can look at photographs of every single toilet built, be it an individual toilet, a communal toilet, a public toilet, or a school toilet. The program’s success shows that government efforts can be both clean and effective, as long as they are well-designed, and may lead to similar efforts in other sectors.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The entire effort to eliminate open defecation targeted towards the poorest and most vulnerable – they are the citizens without access to toilets. However, in combatting open defecation, the Swachh Andhra Corporation looked to help this group generally, while also targeting women and girls specifically. To achieve this, the women were not only viewed as beneficiaries but also as stakeholders. Nearly half of the individual household toilets and a majority of community toilets constructed were built in partnership with local Slum Level Federations – these SLFs are made up of representatives from SHGs, all of whose members are women. Additionally, SAC put special efforts into building separate girls’ toilets in schools. Girls’ school attendance often begins to falter post-puberty, in secondary school. To create a safe and atmosphere for school-going girls, the SAC has not only built separate girls’ toilets in all secondary schools, but is also beginning a program to install sanitary napkin vending machines (with attached incinerators) in all secondary schools to meet girls’ menstrual hygiene needs. As of the writing of this proposal, 250 machines have been installed, and the program is currently being rolled out on a state-wide level.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Swachh Andhra Corporation
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Soma Bharath
Title:   Environmental Engineer  
Telephone/ Fax:   866 2456708
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Flat NO 303, Vijayalakshmi Residency, ESI Road, Gunadala
Postal Code:   520004
City:   c
State/Province:   Andhra Pradesh

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