Bharti Foundation’s Satya Bharti Abhiyan - a step to eradicate open defecation

By auther pic. Abhisikta Dey

January 13, 2021

Bharti Foundation’s Satya Bharti Abhiyan -  a step to eradicate open defecation

Bharti Foundation

Bharti Foundation has implemented and supported programs in the domain of primary, secondary and tertiary education along with sanitisation. One of the flagship initiatives like the ‘Satya Bharti School Program’, aims at providing free quality education to thousands of underprivileged children with a special focus on the girl child, by means of 191 Primary and 5 Senior Secondary schools across six states. Bharti Foundation has been instrumental in supporting Government schools in fourteen states with a reach of more than 2.5 lakh students, with 50% being girls since it’s inception in 2014. This Foundation has gradually spread to treating sanitisation problems too with a budget allocation of INR 100 Crores via the Satya Bharti Abhiyan initiative. The Abhiyan aimed at improving sanitation conditions in large geographic areas by fostering access to toilets to all these households and creating an awareness through Information, Education and Communication. Open defecation was rampant in several areas, leading to unhygienic conditions and associated ill effects for entire population of these districts as 10% people in Ludhiana and 41% people in Amritsar did not have access to toilets and defecated in the open.


Project Initiation and Implementation


Bharti Enterprises group companies with major contribution from Bharti Airtel and Bharti Infratel have outsourced the construction of toilets in Ludhiana to partners whereas the beneficiaries are constructing the toilets themselves in Amritsar. Process orientation, transparency and stake holder empowerment are the pillars of implementation. Ludhiana has been able to achieve the ODF district status benefiting over 90,000 beneficiaries with 17,628 individual toilets in rural Ludhiana and 774 toilets in urban Ludhiana.


Bharti Foundation collaborated with the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Government of Punjab for construction of 20,000 toilets in rural Amritsar in 2017. Till date, the program has provided over 5,000 toilets in Amritsar, reaching over 28,000 beneficiaries. In addition to rural household sanitation, separate toilets for girls have also been constructed in 14 Government schools in rural Ludhiana to encourage girl child education by ensuring that this basic infrastructure is not a barrier to them from attending schools. Responding to a request from Ludhiana Police Commissionerate, Bharti Foundation constructed 37 separate ladies’ toilets in police stations,  post offices that did not have a separate toilet for women.  These ladies toilets are expected to benefit over 55,000 women annually, including police staff and visitors. A behavioural change was facilitated to promote use, proper operation and maintenance of toilets.


Project Stakeholders and the Beneficiaries 


The major stakeholders in this project are the Direct Beneficiaries i.e. the family members of the household and the entire community, that are being provided with toilets. Construction partners like NGOs and vendors along with Gram Panchayats and the Government of India bodies like the Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Department of Water Supply and Sanitation and the Swachh Bharat Mission have been instrumental in facilitating this change.


The major beneficiaries included every household without proper defecation facilities at the time of project implementation. A list of Government schools in rural Ludhiana and every women staff and women visitor of police station, offices and police posts were entitled for a separate ladies toilet. This will encourage the girl child and the women to attend schools and complete their education. Gradually the entire population of Ludhiana and Amritsar districts are expected to benefit with the improvement of sanitation conditions for all.


Project Implementation Process

Satya Bharti Abhiyan has different stages of project implementation which includes:

- Community empowerment for participation – Includes the measures taken to empower the community in rural Ludhiana where the construction has been completed with involvement of the community and transparency in identifying the beneficiaries. A social audit for control and monitoring along with a structured Grievance redress system have empowered the beneficiaries. 


- Construction of Toilets, creating awareness – Outsourced partners have constructed toilets in Ludhiana and Amritsar while information through awareness programs have been imparted for proper sanitisation practices, operation and maintenance of toilets by fostering one-to-one communication with beneficiaries, conducting village meetings and road marches. Campaigns were organized by school students as change agents to leverage their learnings. Carefully researched, well designed interventions and proper allocation of resources led to large scale implementation and maintaining a certain pace of construction.


Despite of all these efforts, the major hindrances to the success of this project were due to a large spread of beneficiaries over vast geographic area and maintaining the speed of delivery and consistency in the quality of toilets being provided.  


The Impact Created by the Project


The Abhiyan envisioned the creation of adequate number of toilets for the households and the reduction in open defecation which would lead to reduction in diseases.


Post one year of handover of the toilets, toilet compliance cum user feedback survey has been done to measure sustainability, which clearly states that in Apr-May 2017, 6423 households reported that 98.54% of the toilets are functional and is being maintained by households. These programs have brought a remarkable shift in the lives of the women.


The Way Forward


The ODF status needs to be maintained once the Abhiyan team is formed along with Government support. It should be based on the Convergence Model, which implies that it can be scaled upto the extent required in convergence with the Government systems. Research states that 17,628 toilets have been provided in the two years i.e. 24 toilets per day. This speed can be further increased by inducting more partners, which will make  this project reach the pinnacle of success and eradicate open defecation across India.



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Abhisikta Dey Ghosh is a business research and content professional for the last 14 years with leading brands from the industry. Her interest lies in authoring and weaving stories to foray into people's mind and hearts, thereby creating an ever lasting impact. Brand creation and management have been her forte using few magical words supported by language. A Master's Degree in Finance and Marketing with a passion for literature and language has certainly given her a huge platform to merge her educational expertise with passion, par excellence. Currently Abhisikta works as a Senior Consultant for Strategic Content and Research with Corporates, Edu-tech firms, CSR Foundations, Travel companies and Fintech majors. Abhisikta has a keen interest in music, dance and going on family adventure trips.


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