Last week the Indian Government released its annual rankings of the country’s cleanest cities, as part of its Swachh Bharat Mission to clean up India by 2019.
The rankings assess factors such as eliminating open defecation, solid waste management, education and capacity building and are a significant part of the cleanliness push by Prime Minister Modi.
Visakhapatnam, a city in Andra Pradesh where WSUP has been working since 2015, was declared the third cleanest city of India – two places up from last year and a dramatic turnaround from two years ago when it was ranked 44th.
How did Vizag manage to continue to rise up the rankings?
WSUP has observed strong political leadership on the issues of sanitation and waste management, particularly from the city’s Municipal Commissioner Mr Hari Narayanan and the former Municipal Commissioner, Mr Praveen Kumar. Rapid progress on tackling open defecation – the city was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in December 2016 – could not have been achieved without this leadership.
WSUP, which has provided technical assistance to the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) through its WSUP Advisory consulting arm, believes that the ward by ward approach to tackling open defecation was a significant factor behind the city’s success.
By using pre-existing community structures, GVMC was able to break down the challenge of “citywide” into coordinated, sequenced and localised pockets of activity, making it easier to make progress. Ward-level coordination committees were set up to manage the work in each ward, and these in turn then engaged women’s groups to identify problematic areas, patrol so-called ‘hot-spots’ where people were defecating in the open, and promote the uptake of toilets.
Read more on the innovations behind Visakhapatnam’s achievements:
- Making “Citywide Manageable: A ward-by-ward approach to eliminating open defecation in Visakhaptnam, India – blog published on washfunders.org.
- A ward-by-ward approach to eliminating open defecation – report published by WSUP.
- Being Bold for Change in Sanitation – an article exploring how women played a leadership role in the drive to clean up the city.
Having achieved ODF status, the focus in Visakhapatnam is now on improving management of human waste across the city, as well as maintaining new facilities and improving hygiene practices to ensure that the progress made to date is sustainable.
WSUP’s work in Visakhapatnam has been supported by USAID.