Tag Archives: India

Toilet subsidy is not the answer to sanitation problems

Toilet subsidy is not the answer to sanitation problems | Source: India Water Portal, March 2 2016 |

Deepak Sanan, one of the flag bearers of community led total sanitation (CLTS), believes that collective behaviour change works more than individual grants. Himachal Pradesh is a case in point. 


Deepak Sanan

In recent years, especially after the launch of major programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, sanitation has become a hotly debated topic in India. Crores of rupees have gone into building toilets but they remain unused, villages that were declared open defecation free (ODF) are unable to sustain that, and sewage treatment continues to be a big challenge. In such a scenario, community led total sanitation (CLTS) offers a different approach. It calls for the suspension of toilet subsidies and instead works towards securing collective behaviour change by instilling disgust or fear in the community.

Himachal Pradesh was one of the early adopters of this concept, reaching about 67 percent rural toilet coverage as per Census 2011 which was more than double the national average of 31 percent. But urban areas have started facing problem of sewage disposal with state capital Shimla registering major jaundice outbreaks frequently.

We talk to Deepak Sanan, Additional Chief Secretary in the Himachal Pradesh government and one of the flag bearers of CLTS on how the state achieved such a feat and what are some challenges.

CLTS has been tried in other states of India as well. Was the social set up in Himachal Pradesh different that it worked so well in the State?

I don’t think there is any difference in the social set up of Himachal that was critical. Himachal Pradesh has strong caste divisions even if it is a predominantly Hindu state. CLTS focuses on collective behaviour change and not on subsidy and it can work anywhere. For instance, Chhattisgarh which is very different when compared to Himachal in terms of education levels, poverty and other social aspects, is moving very fast in the last year using CLTS and abjuring individual household subsides. In fact, it’s setting a good example for states like Bihar and Jharkhand where people say you cannot have toilets without doling out money.

In Himachal, as at other places that have got CLTS right, what worked was the policy shift from subsidies on individual toilets to collective behaviour change. Capacity building in CLTS techniques was arranged at the state level. Local champions like the Deputy Commissioner of Mandi district engaged appropriate NGO support, constituted committees, prepared action plans and involved Panchayati raj institutions. Other DCs followed suit as they also wanted the accolades and awards Mandi district was getting.

CLTS has the potential to work even in urban locations like Kalyani town in West Bengal has shown. The key is to locate the right triggers, involve local governments and facilitate an appropriate action plan that can ensure safe confinement and disposal of human waste irrespective of whether the location is rural or urban, or whether the community is homogenous or diverse.

Read the complete article.

Chennai gets India’s first self-cleaning smart toilets

Chennai gets India’s first self-cleaning smart toilets | Source: Mashable.com, March 1 2016 |

In most Indian cities, public sanitation remains woefully inadequate, with rampant public urination and toilets being either dirty or too few. In a first of its kind project in India, over 180 self-cleaning public eToilets have been installed in the southern Indian city of Chennai.



What makes these toilets even more user-friendly is that they can be located through an Android app called eToilet. Through it, Chennai residents can find toilets on the map, rate them, offer feedback and even suggest new places where they should be installed. Officials from the Greater Chennai Corporation can use a second app to remotely monitor hygiene levels, usage figures and water availability at each toilet.

Spread over 35 square feet, each automatic unmanned toilet cleans itself before entry and after use. They come equipped with sensors for exhaust fan and light to ensure that they consume less water and power than conventional toilets.

Read the complete article.

The surprising truth of open defecation in India – Sangita Vyas

Published on Jul 31, 2015

In this TEDx Talk Sangita Vyas shares the unheared and little understood reality of open defecation in India.

Its a well known fact that most of the open defecation in the world happens in India, social scientists and the government were struggling to understand why? Is it because we don’t have enough toilets? Is it because we don’t have enough money? The enormity of the problem was getting worse, 300,000 children lose their lives to preventable diseases related to sanitation and open defecation and most rural children face physical and mental stunting.

The answer as Sangita found in her country wide survey – is couter intuitive and very surprising. Listen to her talk to know the surprising truth of open defecation in India.

Sangita is broadly interested in the politics and economics of inequality and making services work in India.

She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received a BS from the University of Pennsylvania. After college, Sangita spent several years working in New York in economic consulting but soon became discontent and moved to India where she oversaw a randomized evaluation of a micro-insurance program for farmers in Gujarat with the Centre for Microfinance.

Sangita holds an MPA in Economics and Public Policy with a Concentration in Urban Policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.


Water.org launches Water and Sanitation Challenge for India

Win US$ 250,000 for you idea on how to ensure that low-income households in India get water and sanitation services.


Photo: Water.org

How can market-based approaches expand water and sanitation solutions among low-income households in India? This is the question that the Water and Sanitation Challenge seeks to answer.

The Challenge is an initiative of Water.org and OpenIDEO. It focusses on accelerating efforts that meet some specific criteria – such as developing local partnerships and having operations on the ground in India.  Top Ideas will be considered for approximately US$ 250,000 and mentorship from Water.org.

For more information read the challenge brief at: www.water.org/challenge

The deadline for idea submission is March 7th, 2016.

Voice of America – Millions Shun India’s Innovations in Solving Sanitation Problems

Millions Shun India’s Innovations in Solving Sanitation Problems | Source: Voice of America, Feb 18, 2016 |

In Geeta Colony, a crowded slum in the Indian capital, 45-year-old Meena Devi said she would rather walk into open areas in the vicinity of her tiny home for defecation than wait in snaking lines at the “filthy” community toilets. “The toilets are in terrible condition, there is no sewer system. Then they shut the doors at night,” she said.


FILE – Indian men attend to their morning chores next to a sewage canal before they leave for work early morning in New Delhi, India, Dec. 12, 2014.

Across Indian villages and towns, the government has accelerated a drive to build millions of toilets as it makes ending open defecation by an estimated 600 million people a rallying cry. Some 9 million toilets have been built since the campaign was launched a little over a year ago.

Shifting Social Norms

But sanitation experts say the campaign is faltering as many of the latrines lie unused. It is not just community toilets in festering urban slums that have discouraged people like Meena Devi from changing old habits. Tens of thousands of independent latrines built for village households are also shunned – mostly due to age-old cultural resistance to using them.

Read the complete article.


UN ESCAP – Demand for household sanitation: The case of India

Demand for household sanitation: The case of India, 2016. UN ESCAP.

Worldwide, India has the highest number of people defecating in the open. In an attempt to reduce number of open defecation, a supply side initiative is underway. In 2014-2015, Government of India, constructed 8 million toilets. However, an important aspect for this supply-side initiative to become successful is to create demand for toilets.

In this paper we look at household demand for toilets, and study the factors leading to open defecation. Using Demographic and Health Survey data we create a wealth index, and use it to rank household preference for toilets vis-à-vis 20 other different consumer durables.

Our results suggest, among lists of household items that any individual want to have, toilets get a lower preference – ranked 12, out of 21. Additionally, we examine preference structure for using toilets among residents from various federal states in India. We find residents of North Eastern states are more likely to use toilets.

We further investigate factors leading to toilet usage among households. Results indicate a strong case for imparting education and public awareness, especially, among the female cohort.

Sanitation and child health in India

Sanitation and child health in India, 2015. Britta Augsburg (IFS) and Paul Rodriguez-Lesmes (UCL).

Our study contributes to the understanding of key drivers of stunted growth, a factor widely recognized as major impediment to human capital development. Specifically, we examine the effects of sanitation coverage and usage on child height for age in a semi-urban setting in Northern India.

We use instrumental variables to control for endogeneity of sanitation usage coverage. We find that sanitation coverage plays a significant and positive role in height growth during the first years of life.