New Delhi, India (February 9, 2016): The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, with the support of Water.org and in partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, organized a forum on ‘Innovative Financing for Swachh Bharat’ to discuss how private capital can supplement government effort to achieve an open-defecation-free (ODF) India by 2019. The forum built upon the Ministry’s invitation in the Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines to non-state actors for financial assistance, and the inclusion of water and sanitation in the latest priority sector lending guidelines issued by Reserve Bank of India.
The day consisted of two panel discussions- the first panel focused on the opportunities for collaboration with the central and state governments. All panelists agreed that community participation in Swachh Bharat is necessary to make ODF India a reality—the government alone cannot finance such a herculean task. The topic of private sector financing, most notably the expansion of CSR commitments, also emerged as CSR and philanthropy experts from the India Sanitation Coalition, PEPSICO and IKEA Foundation shared their current efforts in toilet construction, awareness creation and advocacy where they believe corporates can play a significant role.
The second panel centered around the operationalization of the RBI’s inclusion of water and sanitation in priority sector lending. Representatives from the Reserve Bank of India, NABARD, Punjab National Bank, Grameen Koota, SEWA Mahila Housing Trust, and Impact Investors Council participated in a discussion on their respective plans to expand water and sanitation lending in light of the new guidelines and their expectations from each other in making this possible.
Notable speakers included Chaudhary Birender Singh, the Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation; Shri Ram Kripal Yadav, the Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation; Shri JK Mohapatra, the Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation; and Gary White, CE0 and co-founder of Water.org.
A number of action items came out of the forum, including:
- Water.org, WSP and UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in the coming weeks to initiate work on advocating for:
- PSL sub-limit for water and sanitation (for example, 3% of PSL should be dedicated compulsory to WATSAN)
- Inclusion of WATSAN as a PSL category in the guidelines for Regional Rural Banks, Small Banks, Co-operative banks
- Dedicating 1% of DRI for WATSAN (Differential Rate of Interest scheme - As per RBI guidelines for lending under DRI Scheme, banks are required to grant loans at concessional rate of interest 4% p.a. to the eligible beneficiaries for specific areas)
- Explore alternate channels and mechanisms through which banks can undertake WATSAN lending under PSL which is ‘bankable’
- Continue to develop models and best practices to share constantly with all state governments and financial institutions
- Continue to develop best practice measures in CSR to ensure that the needs of the companies and the expectations of the government are met
- In the long term, continue to develop a white paper along with the Ministry with case studies and models on ‘Innovative Financing for Swachh Bharat’