Category Archives: Progress on Sanitation

USAID announces the release of the US Global Water Strategy

Global Water Strategy to Create a More Water-Secure World

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development recently published the U.S. government’s Global Water Strategy.

Photo Credit: Bobby Neptune Photography

Photo Credit: Bobby Neptune Photography

The Global Water Strategy envisions a water-secure world, where people and nations have the water they need to be healthy, prosperous, and resilient.

To advance the Strategy, the U.S. government will work with partner countries and key stakeholders to achieve four interrelated objectives: 1) increasing access to sustainable safe drinking water and sanitation services, and promoting hygiene; 2) protecting freshwater resources; 3) promoting cooperation on shared waters; and 4) strengthening water governance and financing.

The U.S. government’s efforts will focus on countries and regions where needs and opportunities are greatest and where engagement can best protect our national security interests.

The U.S. Global Water Strategy is required by the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014.

For a copy of the U.S. Global Water Strategy and information on priority countries, please visit

State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India – USAID

State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India. USAID, October 2017.

The State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India report emerges from a three-year (2014-2017) collaborative program funded by the USAID and undertaken by TERI University, Coca-Cola and TERI on ‘Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings of India’ and encapsulates the journey India has undertaken in the urban water and sanitation sector. urban.png

The report aims to be a comprehensive collection and analysis of past and current policies and programmes and provides insights into the reasons for several gaps that become apparent when the sector is viewed holistically.


  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter One: Introduction

Section A – Policies

  • Chapter Two: Assessment of National-level Policies and Programmes in India’s Urban Water and Sanitation Sectors
  • Chapter Three: Regional Assessment of Urban Water and Sanitation Policies and Programmes

Section B – Progress

  • Chapter Four: Living Without Sanitation Choices in Urban Slums
  • Chapter Five: Analysis of City-level Sanitation Scenario
  • Chapter Six: Three Years of Urban Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission
  • Chapter Seven: The Sanitation Value Chain: Missing Links and the Way Forward for Urban India

Section C – Possible Solutions

  • Chapter Eight: The Need of the Hour: Leveraging Corporate Engagement for Urban Sanitation
  • Chapter Nine: Drinking Water Supply for Urban Poor: Role of Urban Small Water Enterprises
  • Chapter Ten: Financing Options for Urban Sanitation in India
  • Chapter Eleven: Recommendations

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) Immersive Research

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) Immersive Research. CLTS, October 2017.

Praxis, the CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies and WaterAid undertook an immersive research project to learn from the experiences of districts that had been declared open defecation free. swachh

The researchers spent three nights and up to four days in each of a total of eight villages in Madhya Pradesh (3), Uttar Pradesh (2) and Rajasthan (3), in districts which had been declared open defecation free (ODF).

They stayed with families without a specific agenda learning open-endedly from lived experience, observation and conversations.

The main report sums up the key findings and suggests ways to strengthen the Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin; the policy and practice note presents actionable recommendations; and the methodology note describes the activities, challenges, lessons learnt and guidance for use of the methodology by others.

Read the complete article.

Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card

Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card. ThePrint, October 4, 2017.

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Study reveals health indicators for children, women have shown improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free under Swachh Bharat in the past year.

Even as questions are being raised over the Narendra Modi government’s track record of delivering on the Swachh Bharat mission, there is one report card where the PM’s pet project seems to be scoring well — the state of health report.

A study, undertaken by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on behalf of the drinking water and sanitation ministry to assess the health impact of the Swachh mission in rural areas, reveals that health indicators for children and women have shown considerable improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free (ODF) in the past one year.

The report, accessed by ThePrint, shows that the cases of diarrhoea among children are 46 per cent more in non-ODF areas; there are 78 per cent higher cases of worms in stools of children in non-ODF areas; 58 per cent higher cases of stunting among children and 48 per cent more cases of women with lower body mass index (BMI) than those in non-ODF areas.

The study observes that “becoming ODF had a positive impact on child’s health and nutrition, evident from the fact that the health and nutritional indicators of the children and mothers belonging to the ODF areas were comparatively better than their non-ODF counterparts”.

Read the complete article.

How Breaking Down Boundaries Can Solve Sanitation – John Sauer

How Breaking Down Boundaries Can Solve Sanitation. WASHfunders, September 2017. by John Sauer, Senior Technical Advisor for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Population Services International. 

Photo: IPS, from a market development workshop in Senegal February 2017

Photo: IPS, from a market development workshop in Senegal February 2017

If we believe leading thinking on collaboration, we know we need to do more of it. But it’s also common sense that bad collaboration could be worse than no collaboration at all.

I think it’s fair to say that despite lots of talk and good intentions to collaborate, the sanitation sector – with a few possible exceptions – is still figuring out how to make collaboration translate into results.

Following are some ideas for how we can activate collaboration that is relevant and practical, built on existing efforts.

There are several movements underway in the sanitation space that joined together are the ingredients needed to enable significant progress towards achieving sanitation for all.

Examining these movements and what they respectively offer also gives insights into how collaboration focused on results might concretely happen and why we need to ultimately merge these for scale to happen.

By working collectively on market systems, public finance and developing social enterprises we can unlock the potential to achieve progress.

Operationalizing this within sanitation will also be proof of concept for collective impact within international development and support a needed paradigm shift.

Read the complete article.

Focus on Swachh Bharat – Water Currents

Focus on Swachh Bharat – Water Currents, October 2, 2017.

The Prime Minister of India launched the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission on October 2, 2014, to improve the level of sanitation and cleanliness by October 2, 2019, marking the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Swachh Bharat has two components: Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) for rural areas and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) for urban areas.

In the city of Visakhapatnam (Vizag), India, improved sanitation facilities in schools are helping female students. Photo Credit: USAID/India

In the city of Visakhapatnam (Vizag), India, improved sanitation facilities in schools are helping female students. Photo Credit: USAID/India

To date, this campaign has rallied all corners of Indian society toward its ambitious sanitation goals, including enlisting Bollywood stars and prominent athletes to create awareness.

USAID partners with the Government of India to help drive changes in water and sanitation that make cities cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous by harnessing expertise and innovation. For example, USAID/India and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support the Government of India’s efforts to eliminate open defecation and sustainably provide sanitation services.

This collaboration has resulted in 1078 out of 4041 cities being certified as open defecation free (ODF), helping improve the living conditions of more than 150 million people. USAID also partners with local civil society, U.S. universities, and the private sector, including the Coca-Cola Company, Google, and the Gap Inc. to address India’s water and sanitation challenges.

Featured below are select presentations, blogs, videos, and articles that highlight the wide-ranging accomplishments, trends, and challenges of Swachh Bharat.

Challenges and Progress 
National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage ManagementMinistry of Urban Development, February 2017. This national policy focuses Government of India efforts beyond ODF status to management of the entire fecal sludge and septage cycle.

Swachh Bharat Mission Highlights for the Year 2016-17Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, 2017. This report gives an update on the number of ODF villages, new initiatives to promote community participation, and other information.

Read the complete issue.

Robert Chambers – Can We Know Better?: Reflections for Development

Can We Know Better?: Reflections for Development. Robert Chambers, Practical Action, June 2017.

This book is intended for all who are committed to human wellbeing and who want to make our world fairer, safer and more fulfilling for everyone, especially those who are ‘last’. It argues that to do better we need to know better. It provides evidence that what we believe we know in international development is often distorted or unbalanced by errors, myths, biases and blind spots. chambers

Undue weight has been attached to standardised methodologies such as randomized control trials, systematic reviews, and competitive bidding: these are shown to have huge transaction costs which are rarely if ever recognized in their enormity. To confront the challenges of complex and emergent realities requires a revolutionary new professionalism. Promising developments include rapid innovations in participatory ICTs, participatory statistics, and the Reality Check Approach with its up-to-date and rigorously grounded insights.

An excerpt – Beginning on page 37, Chambers discusses Out of the closet: blind spots of WASH. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is a source of examples of past and present (though diminishing) blind spots and biases.

Infant poo. Andres Hueso has called infant poo the blind spot of blind spots (pers. comm.). Explanations can be sought in terms of biases: cleaning children’s faeces is overwhelmingly women’s work and women often lack time and resources to deal with it hygienically; it is less smelly and disgusting than adults’; it is widely regarded as harmless, although it carries a heavier pathogen load than that of adults. So in rural areas where there is open defecation, it is common practice to leave infant poo in the
open near dwellings or to throw it on rubbish heaps together with rags or other material used for wiping bottoms. For many it would be too expensive or time consuming to do anything else.

View/download the entire book or individual chapters.