Can direct benefit transfer strengthen the Swachh Bharat Mission? Learnings from three districts in Madhya Pradesh, India

  • Description

In order to address some of the challenges faced in implementation of Indian government's flagship program Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), the Madhya Pradesh state government introduced the direct benefit transfer of incentives to beneficiary households in 2016. This system uses an android application and web portal for digitizing the processes, resulting in direct transfer of toilet construction incentives into beneficiaries' bank accounts. The paper is based on a study which brings out the experiences of the direct benefit transfer model, based on field research in 3 districts of Madhya Pradesh. Findings indicate that the system has resulted in improved monitoring, efficiency and transparency; as well as reduction in scope for corruption. However, a few bottlenecks were observed including process gaps, community access, capacity building, equity and ethical considerations. The paper also brings out the key enablers for effective implementation of the model in large-scale government programs.