The Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat inaugurated a two-day National Conference on Rural WASH Partners' Forum (RWPF) at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, today to celebrate 1st anniversary of formation of RWPF. The theme of the conference is ‘Accelerating Progress towards a Swachh Sujal Bharat’.
RWPF is a platform set up by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) in collaboration with KPMG India for Development/ Sector Partners working in rural WASH space of India. The main objective of the Forum is to support the expeditious implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) and Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G), the flagship missions of DDWS, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India.
The Forum has brought organizations working in the rural WASH sector under one umbrella for better collaboration & synergy, besides creating an environment of learning and knowledge sharing, finding scalable and cost-effective solutions, sharing best practices & success stories while avoiding overlap in efforts.
Addressing the delegates, the Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, “Effort is being made by the government to improve the lives of the citizens. No one could have dreamt that the Prime Minister would be seen with a broom in hand cleaning streets, constructing toilet as a mason but with the grit and determination at the highest level, we achieved the goal defying all odds and the country became Open Defecation Free on 2nd October 2019. Under the visionary guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, we have achieved more than 12.6 Cr tap connections and more than 64% ODF Plus villages! The role of RWPF members is important as their ground presence will go a long way in ensuring last mile connectivity.”
The Minister of State for Jal Shakti & Food Processing Industries, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, spoke on the collaborative effort by government, development partners, civil society and community in helping achieve the goal of provisioning tap water connection in every rural household.
MoS said, “Pouring water from seven small kalash into one big kalash is symbolic of the effort put in by all to ensure that water of prescribed quality, in adequate quantity reaches every rural household and that ‘No One if Left Out’.
This forum supplements efforts of DDWS in the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen – Phase II) and Jal Jeevan Mission through technical support, knowledge sharing and collaborative assistance of organizations having wide outreach and impact in the WASH sector”.
Speaking at the event Secretary DDWS, Smt. Vini Mahajan said, “It is a privilege to see the development and sector partners support both the Missions. KPMG India is supporting the initiative. The journey so far has been very exciting.
We have succeeded in providing tap water connection to 64% rural households and 64% villages are on the way of becoming ODF Plus in aspiring category. No State has less than 1/3rd coverage. It is important that the community is empowered to take onus of the infrastructure so that long term sustainability is assured.
The solutions should be locally available, affordable and easy to maintain.”Additional Secretary & Mission Director, Jal Jeevan Mission, Shri Vikas Sheel spoke about the year-long activities undertaken by RWPF partners and their role in the Department.
He said, ‘Rural WASH Partners' Forum (RWPF) is a leading platform for development/ sector partners helping the Mission to accelerate progress towards a Swachh Sujal Bharat. 12 identified thematic areas have been allocated to the Development & Sector Partners after mutual agreement.
RWPF Secretariat has been set up at DDWS where KPMG is the platform coordinator to take the activities forward.The platform facilitates in positioning RWPF as a WASH Think Tank and facilitates periodic exchange of ideas among States and Development/ Sector partners.
Also present at the event was Head, G&PS, KPMG, Mr. Nilachal Mishra, who spoke about how Rural WASH Partners Forum and its large pool of development/ sector partners will support the States/ UTs in implementation of the programme with special focus on training and capacity building for long-term sustainability.
He added, “The collaboration has seen a number of activities in the past one year, the launch of JJM Digital Academy and RWPF Year Book. We look forward of working together for a meaningful impact in rural WASH sector”.
The inaugural session of the conference also saw launch/ release/ felicitation of following:
 Digital WASH Academy aims to build the capacity of various stakeholders associated with water supply programme viz. administrators, engineers, panchayat functionaries, technicians, sanitation workers and foot soldiers. T
he Academy will equip them with necessary knowledge and skills to effectively contribute towards achieving the Mission objectives. ECHO India a leading non-profit organization has supported the Department in establishing the Academy.
 RWPF Annual Yearbook and Web page: The work done by the development partners in different regions & across various themes is documented in the Yearbook and showcased on the Web page. The associated acknowledgment of the work on ground by various agencies encourages the partners to perform better and support the government in reaching desired goals.
 Swachhata Chronicles - Transformative Tales from India: A compendium of 75 ODF Plus Best Practices, showcases the innovations, measures taken to overcome barriers and raise awareness, special campaigns launched, and other endeavors of States/UTs in various ODF Plus activities in order to meet the goals of SBM-G Phase-II.
 Field Assessment Framework and Ranking Protocol of Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) 2023: The detailed framework defining how the States & UTs will be ranked in the SSG 2023.
 Manual for Disaster Management Plan (DMP) to ensure safety, uninterrupted supply and minimum loss of WASH assets and services. The Plan aligns with the two-flagship missions of DDWS i.e. Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) and Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G).
 Felicitation of Four start-ups by Hon’ble Minister of Jal Shakti, for developing cost-effective and portable water quality testing kits under Technology Challenge conducted by Invest India with support from DDWS.
Elico, Cluix and Heuristics have developed digital portable multi parameter water quality testing devices which can directly be connected with web-based Dashboard. Reports so generated can also be used for monitoring the programme. Device developed by Earthface is NABL approved for water analysis and purification.
The conference was attended by senior officers from States/UTs Mission Directors, Secretaries In-charge of JJM and SBM-G, line-Ministries of Government of India, Corporates working in WASH sector among others. Details about RWPF can be accessed at www.rwpf.in
The programme was followed by thematic session on water and sanitation on a) Community Outreach and engagement – creating a Jan Andolan – from infrastructure building to community ownership b) Efficient and effective operation and maintenance for JJM & grievance redressal c) Safely managed sanitation and d) Circular economy in Plastic Waste.
The sessions were moderated by UNICEF, Aga Khan Foundation, All India Institute of Self Governance (AIILSG), Water AID, WASH institute and Centre for Environment Education (CEE).