National Dissemination Meet on: Presenting the Findings from the Evaluation Study of a Three-Year Intervention on Enabling the Urban Poor to Strengthen Access to Sanitation
The National Dissemination Meet held in Delhi, on February 27-28, 2017, enabled the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) to share and reflect collectively on the best practices that had emerged from a three year (2012-15) community-led urban sanitation intervention, in the cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata. The intervention, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), was jointly implemented by the Centre for Advocacy and Research, and three Community Based Organizations (CBO) Mahila Pragati Manch, Daksh Samooah and Alor Disha.
The findings from the Evaluation Study Sanitation, Water and Hygiene: Strengthening Community Centered and Gender Responsive Provisioning, which was conducted by the Institute for Human Development (IHD) and disseminated during the two-day Meet, highlighted and identified the changes that had been witnessed at the community level. They included:
The effort of the Women’s Forum has gone a long way in making sanitation a people’s issue, with communities having a say in not only improving but also sustaining access to better services- Ms. Vimla, Founder member, Mahila Pragati Manch
The community decided that they would build their own household toilets and within three years 300 household toilets were constructed with the help of local masons.- Ms. Tabussum from Mahila Pragati Manch, Delhi
Ms. Maya Verma, from Jhalana Kunda, recalls with a great sense of achievement of how the community had fought its own battles against open defecation, gone in search for an appropriate model for household toilets, learnt about the twin-pit toilet technique and replicated it on scale. “It is only after 35 households had constructed twin-pit latrines that the government woke up to the possibility and declared Jhalana Kunda as a learning site for officials and service providers.”
Sabina Mondal from Alor Disha, Kolkata, speaks of her transformation from being a survivor of violence to agent of change in Rajpur-Sonapur Municipality. “In our settlements today we can say with great pride and confidence that the community has taken full ownership of the issue of sanitation and linked it with both health and hygiene; not just in our homes but also in the anganwadi and school.”
Over two hundred representatives from NGOs and CBOs-Mahila Pragati Manch, Daksh Samooah and Alor Disha- came together for the Dissemination Meet. They included 30 representatives from Jaipur, Kota and Jodhpur, 30 from Delhi, 20 from Bhubaneswar and 35 from Kolkata.
Response: Policy Makers, Official, Experts and Partners
In her Keynote Address, Ms. Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), emphasized that the lack of access to clean public toilets was an issue she had personally experienced and that DCW was committed to addressing the issue of sanitation. She further affirmed that, “DCW will review the Evaluation Report and take serious note of its findings and recommendations and work towards strengthening community access to sanitation.”
In her Opening Address, Ms. Madhu Krishna, BMGF said, “Without community engagement a WSH intervention or programme is not possible, which is why a partnership with CFAR is very important for us. Through this intervention we have witnessed how community representatives can be effectively facilitated to become strong agents of change. We will take these lessons forward across the county.” She also emphasized on the need for men to be brought into the process of community-centered sanitation initiatives.
Mr. S.K Mahajan, Chief Engineer, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), stated that DUSIB has been working relentlessly over the last two years in improving sanitation across the settlements and was aspiring to gain a special branding for the Community Toilet Complexes built by DUSIB. He also emphasized on the need for proper maintenance of toilets and announced that DUSIB would soon be launching an App through which anyone can file complaints. He concluded by assuring everyone that DUSIB would provide special toilets free of cost for use at night.
Dr Himani Tiwari, Coordinator, City Managers Association, Rajasthan, spoke about how CFAR, Daksh Samooah and Women’s Forums had played a major role in strengthening access to sanitation services in Jaipur. She spoke of how the Jaipur Municipal Corporation had organized a camp for the first time in Rajasthan, with support from CFAR, during which numerous applications for individual toilets were filed and processed and the first installment of the subsidy was issued on the spot. This process was then replicated in other cities. She added that Jhalana Kunda basti, where the CFAR team had worked, has been adjudged as a best practice and even declared a learning site for officials and service providers.
During the panel discussion Prof. Amitabh Kundu, former Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, who was the moderator, declared that “the best approach was to work in partnership with the government and utilize government schemes that are available for the poor”.
He added that, “It is good that central and state governments are now so focused on water, sanitation and hygiene as it is directly linked with improving life expectancy. But having said this it is important to add that these government initiatives must reach the poorest of the poor.”
Mr. Saswat Rath of Sambodhi Research & Communication, pointed that while one of the major reasons for constructing toilet was the safety of women, ‘the biggest barrier was lack of money and space.”
Abhishek Chatterjee, WASH Institute, “We can see the impact of interventions in the community but we have to ensure that the work is sustained once the NGOs leave. Therefore, it is important to identify champions within the community who will take the process forward.” He went on to state that one could “see the enhancement in confidence level in the community representatives gathered at the Meet.”
Banashree Banerjee, Urban Planner, IHS (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Erasmus University) emphasized that “strengthening government institutions like MCD and DUSIB is also very important. Communities face numerous problems so when they approach these institutions with suggestions changes should be made in order to ensure better service delivery.” She further emphasized that “community experience must be utilized at the institutional level.”
In the Concluding Session the key takeaways were:
“The intervention had managed to reach out to clusters which remained unknown and neglected so far”. – Ms. Indu Prakash Singh, Expert on Urban Poor and Homelessness
Agreeing with this Ms. Gouri Choudhury, Chairperson, Action India, stated that the Swachh Bharat Mission had “started a whole new women’s movement without possibly intending to do so because women have taken the leadership in strengthening sanitation services”.
Taking this observation forward, Ms. Mamta Dash, WaterAid, India, said that “CFAR had set an example by playing the role of a link between the government and the community to address sanitation issues”.
“DUSIB has mandated to make slum areas in Delhi Open Defecation free by 2019. There is a great need for awareness generation and community participation for the maintenance of toilets. Now we have inspection teams for toilet complexes and a grading system. Grades are steadily improving with time.”- Shri. A.K Gupta, DUSIB Board Member
“The community’s role is very important for participatory governance and here we see the community playing a very active role”- Shri. Bipin Rai, Board Member DUSIB
“Community behavior change is very important but behavior change must also be there in the system at the service delivery provider level. Another important point that I want to make here is that the government should have confidence in women’s groups and budget control must be in the hands of the community.” Shri. D.K Bose, Trustee-CFAR
“The way women forums are working in all these areas and how their capacities have been built over the time is the most important thing I see here today. We need to sustain this.” Ms. Shobita Rajagopal, Associate Professor, IDS
In the concluding session, Ms. Akhila Sivadas, Executive Director, CFAR said, “At the end of the day if this evaluation study can help to gain greater recognition of the pivotal role that community organizations can play in shaping both access to and ownership of safe and sustainable sanitation practices the National Dissemination Meet would have succeeded in more than one way”.