Behaviour Change Communication for Rural Sanitation

Project Summary

The Government of India‘s flagship rural sanitation programme, the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan or NBA (Swachh Bharat Mission since 2014), offers a subsidy to construct individual household toilets. Recognising that Information, Education, Communication (IEC) are key components to its success, the government had allotted 15% of the NBA budget for efforts in demand generation for improved sanitation. While the government has given flexibility to the states to design and implement interventions to convince people of the need for good sanitation, few states have been able to implement sound communication strategies, and as a result the budget earmarked for IEC remains unspent.

Arghyam identified communication as an issue within the NBA, and partnered with Government of Karnataka to work on this. Arghyam facilitated the development of a professional communication campaign by roping in a communication partner Centre of Gravity (CoG).  After intensive ethnographic research in selected villages CoG developed a communication strategy based on universal emotional motivations. They also developed creative materials like audio-visual aids, small media and print material for an intensive on-ground campaign. After piloting the campaign in a few villages, it was deployed in 25 GPs across the six talukas by the district administration harnessing local resources and IEC budgets under the NBA. While the target was to roll out the campaign in 50 GPs, in January-February 2014 the campaign was rolled out in 25 GPs only due to the impending general elections in 2014, leveraging funds from the NBA budget.

Another project partner, Final Mile piloted the development of behavioural nudges to address the behaviour issue related to non-use of constructed toilets. By applying learnings from cognitive neurology and behavioural economics, Final Mile will try to influence behaviour.

Arghyam also partnered with Public Affairs Foundation, a research agency to do baseline study of sanitation and toilet ownership in the district, which set the base for measuring the effectiveness of the communication intervention. PAF provided a research design that enabled selection of intervention and comparison areas within the district, as well as monitored the roll out of the campaign. PAF also carried out an endline survey to measure the impact of the campaign in May 2014.


  1. About 5100 toilets constructed in the 25 Gram Panchayats where the campaign was run in a period of 4 months.
  2. A strategy for communication for creating a demand for toilets in rural Karnataka.
  3. Three films: one depicting the story of a responsible father, the second – a promise from the CEO and ZP President to deliver the incentive in 20 days and the third – testimonials of people who have built and are using toilets.
  4. Two jingles: one explaining the scheme process and the other about the problems women face as a result of having to open defecate.
  5. Pamphlets, posters, door stickers and flip charts around the responsible father theme and the details of the NBA scheme process.
  6. A baseline report presenting the toilet coverage in Davangere
  7. An endline report on the impact of the campaign.
*Grant amount & beneficiary figures are as per actuals for completed projects.