Category Archives: Progress on Sanitation

Do it differently: Toilets are not enough to achieve sanitation, India must reinvent the waste business

Do it differently: Toilets are not enough to achieve sanitation, India must reinvent the waste business. by Sunita Narain, Times of India, February 11, 2017.

The most important programme of this government is Clean India – not just of corruption, but of the muck and filth that is taking over our rivers, our air and our cities.

But equally (and more) important is the agreement that this ‘cleaning’ up is not possible unless we can provide every Indian with toilets that work and toilets that are connected to systems that will safely dispose human excreta, to prevent further pollution of our environment and create another source of bad health.

This agenda is therefore, not just about building toilets but about building sanitation systems that are affordable by all. Only when growth is affordable and inclusive can it be sustainable.

But this is where the opportunity also lies in doing things differently. Till now, the paradigm for urban sanitation has been costly. It has been based on the idea that building toilets is enough to clean the country.

But the excreta sums of different cities, or what we call the city’s “shit-flow” diagram, shows that the situation is grim. Today’s cities do not treat or safely dispose the bulk of human excreta generated.

Read the complete article.

Rushing into solutions without fully grasping the problem

Which factors in the enabling environment and which links between actors are key to achieving reliable sanitation services?

Tanzania did not reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) concerning improved sanitation facilities in 2012 (JMP Report 2014). Several years later – in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – there is still a lot to be done in the sanitation sector.

Angela Huston (IRC Programme Officer) and Dr Sara Gabrielsson (Assistant Professor at Lund University) are working on an upcoming book chapter about deconstructing the complexities that perpetuate poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in East Africa. Departing from Sustainability Science, the chapter aims to identify which factors in the enabling environment are key to achieving reliable WASH services. This article highlights Huston’s and Gabrielsson’s insights into this topic.

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Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India

Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India. World Development, January 2017. Authors: Kathleen O’Reilly, Richa Dhanju, Abhineety Goel.

Highlights

  • Remote places are different than rural places due to physical and social distance.
  • Remoteness significantly contributes to practices of open defecation.
  • Structural inequalities produce conditions that impede sanitation uptake.
  • Addressing infrastructural causes of remoteness is key to reducing open defecation.
  • Reducing multi-scalar, socio-spatial inequalities can lead to latrine adoption.

Open defecation is a major global health problem. The number of open defecators in India dwarfs that of other states, and most live in rural places. Open defecation is often approached as a problem scaled at the site of the individual, who makes a choice not to build and/or use a toilet.

Attempts to end rural open defecation by targeting individuals, like social marketing or behavior change approaches, often ignore the structural inequalities that shape rural residents’ everyday lives. Our study explores the question, “What is the role of remoteness in sustaining open defecation in rural India?” We deploy the concept of remoteness as an analytical tool that can capture everyday practices of open defecation as a function of physical and social distance.

Using ethnographic methods, we interviewed and observed 70 participants in four villages in Uttarakhand, India over a three-month period in 2013. We find that remoteness in general, and its lived nuances, form a context for prevalent open defecation. Structural inequalities across space will need to be addressed to make latrine building and usage viable in remote places.

 

Comparing Sanitation Delivery Modalities in Urban Informal Settlement Schools: A Randomized Trial in Nairobi, Kenya

Comparing Sanitation Delivery Modalities in Urban Informal Settlement Schools: A Randomized Trial in Nairobi, Kenya. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(12), 1189; doi:10.3390/ijerph13121189

Authors: Kate Bohnert, Anna N. Chard, et. al.

The provision of safely managed sanitation in informal settlements is a challenge, especially in schools that require durable, clean, sex-segregated facilities for a large number of children. In informal settlements in Nairobi, school sanitation facilities demand considerable capital costs, yet are prone to breakage and often unhygienic.

The private sector may be able to provide quality facilities and services to schools at lower costs as an alternative to the sanitation that is traditionally provided by the government. We conducted a randomized trial comparing private sector service delivery (PSSD) of urine-diverting dry latrines with routine waste collection and maintenance and government standard delivery (GSD) of cistern-flush toilets or ventilated improved pit latrines.

The primary outcomes were facility maintenance, use, exposure to fecal contamination, and cost. Schools were followed for one school year. There were few differences in maintenance and pathogen exposure between PSSD and GSD toilets. Use of the PSSD toilets was 128% higher than GSD toilets, as measured with electronic motion detectors.

The initial cost of private sector service delivery was USD 2053 (KES 210,000) per school, which was lower than the average cost of rehabilitating the government standard flush-type toilets (USD 9306 (KES 922,638)) and constructing new facilities (USD 114,889 (KES 1,169,668)). The private sector delivery of dry sanitation provided a feasible alternative to the delivery of sewage sanitation in Nairobi informal settlements and might elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

Ending open defecation: The drive must go beyond mascots, jingles – even toilets

Ending open defecation: The drive must go beyond mascots, jingles – even toilets. Scroll.In, January 3, 2017.

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Image credit: NDMC handout

Even as Mumbai enlists the star power of Salman Khan to end open defecation and Delhi has its turbaned Swachh Sewak mascots patrolling the streets, whistling at and fining the guilty, the underlying lacunae that make people defecate in the open see little discussion and go almost completely unaddressed. A problem that should not take more than a year to be solved nationally, if addressed in mission mode, drags on through one scheme after the other.

The populist efforts are driven more by the aim of safeguarding the sensibilities of the privileged than out of a feeling of empathy for those who must go through the indignity of open defecation. A sincere desire to solve the problem is wanting. The Swachh Bharat Mission makes the right noises but lacks in empowering municipal officials adequately. Nice videos and musical jingles can only take you so far. The real difference comes from silent work carried out by a taskforce staffed with deeply committed and talented people.

In the urban context, especially, the issue becomes more complex. Land is scarce and has higher economic value, and urban planning and equitable housing policies have been neglected for a very long time. Open defecation arises from a neglect of these fundamental issues rather than just from the absence of adequate toilets. While we decide what we want to do with planning and governing our cities better, in the interim, it should not be difficult to construct a high number of high quality toilets, which become a natural attraction for those defecating in the open.

Read the complete article.

What Sanitation Successes and Innovations Have You Seen This Year?

As 2016 comes to an end, we would like to hear about the good things you’ve seen or done!

  • What were your small victories, major achievements, and interesting innovations from the past year?
  • What lessons would you like to share that we can post on Sanitation Updates?
  • Please leave any responses in the comments section or via email.

Best wishes to all for a fantastic 2017!

Responses:

Dec 27 – I witnessed the city government of Tacloban, an urban center in the Philippines devastated by 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, passionately push efforts to fund and construct decentralized wastewater treatment for long-term recovery.

The need for improved WASH facilities and integrated WASH programs is often overlooked in post-disaster reconstruction (and in the Philippines small septic tanks are customary), so it was great to see a local government aim to “build back better” WASH!  

I am a PhD student at CU Boulder and was a volunteer environmental engineer with Tacloban City. Shaye Palagi, PhD Student | Civil Systems, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Dec 22 – I am learning, being acquainted and enriched with a lot of relevant technical, financial and updates on global sanitation, thanks to Sanitation Updates. This is my achievement!!! On lessons learned, I think academic essays on sanitation is overlooked. more relevant published pieces could be posted on this website – Mohammad Almjadleh, WASH Specialist, Jordan

Dec 22 – We, at Banka BioLoo, have made good inroads in schools sanitation by installing bioloos, helping WaSH in schools. Sanjay Banka,  (Steering Committee Member of Sanitation and Water for All), Hyderabad, India.

The Community Incentive Model: Towards an Open Defecation Free Chhattisgarh

The Community Incentive Model: Towards an Open Defecation Free Chhattisgarh, 2016. Institute of Development Studies.

The Indian Governments Swachh Bharat Mission offers a 12,000 rupee incentive to Below Poverty Line and certain Above Poverty Line households without a toilet. However, translating the incentive into successful sanitation improvements has been a challenge. Innovative and customisable ways, ideas and processes are needed to ensure community buy-in and achieve greater ownership of the process and high rates of toilet use in an environmentally safe manner. vijeta_rao_chhattisgarh_report-draft_final-pdf

To date the State of Chhattisgarh has seen great successes in ending open defecation and ensuring usage of toilets. With two districts and over fifty blocks declared ODF, Chhattisgarh has also shown strong commitments to community-led processes and has seen a number of innovations, among them the Community Incentive Method.

This method has evolved to meet the specific requirements of the State and has shown promise especially in areas where there is a mix of households who are eligible and those who are not eligible for the incentive. Through this method, Chhattisgarh has paved the path for many more districts, both in terms of innovations around the incentive as well as to customise solutions for their own state.

This Learning Paper documents the Community Incentive Method. It focuses on how and why it evolved, how it works, the challenges of using a similar approach and recommendations.