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The Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship is a programme initiated in July 2021 by the Office of the PSA to the Government of India, under its Waste to Wealth Mission. The programme aims at sensitizing the communities towards waste management and offering innovative solutions for the conversion of waste to wealth by recognising young students from schools and colleges, citizens working in the community through Self Help Groups (SHGs), and sanitation workers.

The fellowship inspires young citizens and community workers to participate in this programme and create value from the waste around them through their innovations, and ultimately form a wide network of waste warriors on the ground as Swachhta Saarthis.

The Fellowship is awarded across three different categories as below:

Category A

Category A

Includes school students from 9th to 12th standard engaged in waste management community

Category B

Category B

Includes college students (UG, PG, research students) engaged in waste management community work

Category C

Category C

Includes (i) citizens working in the community and through Self Help Groups and (ii) municipal or sanitary workers working beyond the specification of their job requirements/descriptions

The Swachhta Saarthi Fellows (SSFs) selected under the three categories are supported with monthly fellowships of ₹500/-, ₹1,000/- and ₹2,000/- respectively for a period of one year.

A total of 1062 applications were received from across the country (from Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Gujarat, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and more), for the 2021 Cohort.

Out of the 1062 applications, 379 SSFs were selected from 27 States and 6 Union Territories, based on their proposed ideas and action plans to tackle the challenge of waste management scientifically and sustainably.

An 8-member expert committee (nominated by the Office of the PSA to the Government of India) evaluated a total of 3800 reports submitted by the fellows and provided critical feedback on the portal to each fellow for improvements within their specific projects going forward, over a course of 12 months. Based on the evaluations and feedback on the individual project reports, the respective monthly fellowship amount was disbursed to the fellows across India.

Work by Fellows:

The SSF programme has demonstrated that citizens, young and old, have a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for working toward waste management. Numerous fellows have developed new ideas into products, prototypes, and technological innovations. Many of these fellows are eager to take their ideas further towards building their own start-ups. The fellows have demonstrated their entrepreneurial acumen by involving community workers, especially underprivileged people, and generating employment for them.

The SSFs have been successful in encouraging their peers and the community to manage their waste by raising awareness through a variety of sensitization campaigns. The fellows have conducted their proposed activities quite actively and consider themselves the torchbearers of this programme because of this sensitisation through the award of the fellowship. The most admirable feature of the programme is the fellows' dedication to transforming "Waste to Wealth" through their modest but honest activities.

Most of the SSFs have emphasised on the significance of waste segregation at source itself and have tried to raise awareness of the advantages of appropriate source segregation in the community. They claim that because of their actions, their friends, family, neighbours, and community members have now actively begun source segregation, which is assisting in the delivery of the segregated waste to the appropriate recycling and composting facilities. To provide solutions for efficient waste management, many SSFs have been collaborating closely with local authorities and other stakeholders from various organisations. The SSFs’ initiatives have also resulted in a considerable change in society in terms of cleanliness.

From time to time, fellows have been recognised for their waste-to-wealth initiatives. Many of their activities have also been publicised in the form of pamphlets, posters, and videos on social media platforms and via print media. The programme has reported a significant impact on the community/environment (homes, schools, villages, communities, industries) through increased community involvement which has led to positive behavioural changes of citizens towards effective waste management, a decrease in waste production, and cleanliness.

The fellowship has produced a number of products and prototypes that the fellows can now develop further for commercialization and scaling up by utilising the platform and networking opportunities provided under the fellowship.

The intention of the fellows to continue working for the cause in society beyond the fellowship term is what is most inspiring. Many of them have plans to advance their innovative ideas/solutions towards validation and towards the start-up level, to make a noticeable difference in society. The most significant accomplishment of this programme is the instillation of a culture of waste management among the fellows.


Swacchta Saarthi Samaroh 2022

About the Samaroh

To celebrate the work done by the fellows in the first year of this fellowship, the Waste to Wealth Mission hosted a 2-day event, the ‘Swachhta Saarthi Samaroh’, on 30th September and 1st October 2022, in Delhi. All the SSFs from 27 States and 6 UTs under the 2021 Cohort were invited to Delhi for the event. The event was held at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas. It was attended by eminent dignitaries, including the Scientific Secretary at the Office of the PSA to the Government of India and other dignitaries from academic institutions, industries, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs, start-ups, etc.

This 2-day event gave the SSFs under the Waste to Wealth Mission an opportunity to showcase their work and the impact made within their community with their peers to a large audience, which will help in inspiring people across the nation to work toward waste management actively. In the first batch of the fellowship, the Mission selected 379 fellows but over the fellowship period, 344 fellows were able to continue based on their ideas and action plans to tackle the enormous challenge of waste management scientifically and sustainably.

As ambassadors of change, these 344 fellows conducted over 2700 sensitization programmes, including workshops, cleanliness drives, technology interventions, development of prototypes, audio-video demonstrations, one-on-one discussions, and creation of innovative radio jingles, and sensitised over 3.1 lakh citizens.

During the event, the fellows showcased their work done over the past year in the form of posters, prototypes, papers, presentations, and products in the event exhibition. The fellows displayed their work across 8 waste categories, and a total of over 100 posters and 60+ prototypes were displayed at the exhibition venue. 110 fellows from all 3 categories were felicitated for their excellent work in waste management space. 20 fellows were also felicitated under Wellbeing Out of Waste (WOW) Program by I.T.C. Limited, with a fellowship amount of ₹5001 each for their efforts and the impactful work. I.T.C also provided an opportunity to all the fellows to join the WOW programme within their operating states.


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