“Valuing Toilets”- Moving Towards Safely Managed Toilets for All
Bhubaneswar, November 18, 2021: The World Toilet Day, 2021 set in the backdrop of the pandemic and the growing threat of disaster caused by climate change, the call for “Valuing Toilets” is as much as about having basic access as having climate-resilient sanitation. While marking the day today, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) thought it befitting to salute all the social catalysts who have over the last few years made safe sanitation- infrastructure, accessibility, dignity and safety of all- a core issue stressing on sanitation value chain and leaving no one behind.
In the introductory address, Samir Ranjan Dash, State Lead, CFAR urged all stakeholders to use the World Toilet Day to renew and strengthen their commitment towards safe and inclusive sanitation. “From the beginning, our concern has been to empower community and groups with special needs-disabled, transgender, elderly, urban poor-to voice their concerns and be part of the solution and today, when we are observing the fourth World Toilet Day much has changed. With the virtual launch of the Saniwall in 12 wards we are entering into a new phase of collaboration between BMC and the urban poor community.”
In his opening address, Shri Suvendu Kumar Sahoo, Deputy Commissioner stated that Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to construct 67 new public/community toilets in 67 wards and urged the community to be part of the process of scaling up access to toilets. He went on to say that “We will be addressing all grievances big and small which come to us and also have five mobile toilets and will deploy them in areas where there are no facilities.”
Responding to the opening address by Mr. Sahoo, Mx Meera Parida, Founder, SAKHA, Member National Council for Transgender Persons, in her special address stated that “CFAR has made it possible for us to have a very good partnership with Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, so that we ensure that No One is Left Behind. We request Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation to make trans-friendly toilets in the state. Our signage campaign for trans-inclusive toilets should be scaled up and the signage of trans-women with women and trans-men with men be displayed across public/community toilets so that we secure recognition and dignity that we are entitled to.” She went on to add that after Andhra Pradesh, Odisha stands second in opportunities for transgender persons. The movement for securing transgender rights is only six year old as it started when the NALSA Judgment on Transgender Rights was declared by the Supreme Court of India,
While inaugurating the ‘Saniwall’ virtually in five Wards, Mr. Laxmikanta Jethi, Additional Commissioner, said that “CFAR and the community representatives have done a very remarkable job of helping us to set up the Saniwall as it will mirror all the problems and achievements so that we not only construct sanitation facilities but also address grievances and change behavior. On World Toilet Day we should take practical steps, implement our commitments and make a clear pathway and the city must lead in the providing safe sanitation to all,” he added,
In the spirit of inclusive sanitation, twelve SATO-manufactured toilet pans were conferred to persons with disabilities, elderly and transgender persons by Additional Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, BMC and Meera Parida, Member, National Council for Transgender Persons.
In her concluding address, Ms. Akhila Sivadas, Executive Director, CFAR, said that, “the time had come for BMC to recognize representatives of Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee as a Resource team that will collaborate with BMC and government in not only identifying communities without access to services and linking them to it but also in galvanizing the community to take ownership and its share of responsibility in changing behaviours and in safeguarding the services”.
On inclusive sanitation, Mr. Swagat Jhankar-Mallick, disability activist, CFAR asked as to when is it will be possible to ensure full-fledged access to sanitation for persons with disabilities, as he felt that much needed to be done on this issue.
Agreeing with this, Dr Sanyaashhi Behera, DSSO, SSEPD stated, “Many urban poor disabled persons do not have space so it is difficult to make toilets for them. Community toilets do not have options of wheelchair and ramps. It costs 25% more for making disable-friendly toilets. According the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, they have a legal right to disable-friendly toilet. But we do not have budget allocations for these special needs. Due to the pandemic disabled faced a great difficulty when accessing toilets so we demand that extra 25 percent is provided to those who have space to make toilet.”
Reflecting about the challenges faced by the elderly, Ms. Bharati Chakra, HelpAge India, said that, “along with accessible, affordable toilets, the elderly need emotional, empathy, care and support”.
Sharing their experience ten Single Window Forum members from nine wards pointed out their concerns. Ms Bharati Dakua, Single Window Forum, emphasized the need for “community involvement in household waste segregation and safe mechanized desludging on subsidized rates for informal settlements.” Ms Jyoshna Duta, Single Window Forum shared, “ I am sitting at the BMC Grievance Cell not only to ensure safe desludging but also to ensure that sanitary workers so not face any risk when they render the service.”.
Speaking about safely managed sanitation, Mr. Deepak Nag, E&Y, emphasized that, “BMC, CFAR, Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee have taken up the issue of safely managed sanitation and mechanized desludging very seriously and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that affordable service is provided to the urban poor.” He went on to add that this is only city in the country which is making very decisive effort to reach out FSM services to the urban poor.
While dwelling on transgender right to secure safe sanitation Mx Asisha Behera and Mx Meghna Sahoo lamented that despite making some progress on issues like livelihood, same cannot be said for sanitation. Even a simple initiative like adding transgender signage in women’s and men’s toilet has still not been scaled up in the manner it should be. “All the intentions in pen and paper should be translated into practice” was emphasized by Meghna. She appealed to CFAR and BMC to take steps to find out the status of transgender living in Bhubaneswar and requested all officials to include transgender in the Jaga Mission Programme.
Responding to this criticism, Mr. Shishir Dash, State Head, Tata Trusts, agreed that much more needs to be done to make sanitation truly trans-inclusive. With the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, he urged them, “to use the present opportunity and once more advocate with the policy makers for inclusive sanitation and sanction for subsidized toilets”.
Talking about role of men and the importance of changing social norms, Sambit Mohanty, actively involved in Men Engage movement said that, “Men have a huge responsibility to support efforts on sanitation and hygiene. While women and transgender are doing their bit to strengthen the empowerment process, however within the family, community and society the decision making power is with the men.” He added that “since men do not understand these issues and now all stakeholders led by women have to engage men and change power equations.”
The event was attended by representatives from community, civil society, development partners, media, officials and sanitation experts from Bhubaneswar.
Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Urban Health Mission, Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee collaborate to strengthen access to toilets
Representatives from Transgender, women, disabled and sanitary workers from 20 wards deliberate on Equitable, Safe and Inclusive Toilets for All
November 24, 2021, Jaipur: Over 200 community representatives including Single Window Forum, Community Management Committee, Self Help Groups, Slum Development Committee from 24 wards and officials from Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation, Swachh Bharat Mission (U), Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJED), Women Empowerment Department(WED), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), SATO and CSOs were present to mark the culmination of World Toilet Day 2021. The Consultation was a part of the Water for Women Fund, Australian Government supported project on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, implemented by CFAR across 24 wards in Jaipur
The highlight of the event was the release of a Charter by Mr. Ashish Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Health, JMC – Heritage, Mr Naresh Nagar Ward Councilor, Dinesh Singh Meena, NHM, Mr Ashok Bairwa, Director SJED, Ms Anita Mittal, Deputy Commissioner, NULM, Priyanka Sharma, Asst. Engineer, and Mx Pushpa Mai, Naibhor and conferring of SATO toilet seats and 50 hand washing stations to disabled community representatives
In his opening remarks Ravi Kiran Bokam, State Project Manager, CFAR urged all stakeholders to use the World Toilet Day to renew and strengthen their commitment towards safe and inclusive sanitation for all. “Our concern is to ensure that groups with distinct needs-disabled, transgender, elderly, are able to use the toilet with dignity and pride. The Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee will work with the city administration to ensure that across the 68 slums no one is left behind.”
In his keynote message Shri Samit Sharma, IAS, Principal Secretary, Social Justice Empowerment Department, Government of Rajasthan, appealed to the community to take ownership of health and sanitation. In this pandemic, our first and foremost duty is to keep ourselves away from infection and for this “we must adopt safe behavioral practices”. When it comes to elderly, disabled and transgender our responsibility is even greater as such groups are highly vulnerable. “The process of empowering these most at risk persons needs meaningful engagement, providing accessible physical, financial and services and skilling them to become economically independent” he added
Responding to the Principal Secretary, Mx. Pushpa Mai, Member Transgender Welfare Board and Founder Nai Bhor Sanstha, highlighted the plight of trans-men and trans-women in the city. “Transgender still face harassment while using public and community Toilets. We do not need separate toilets; we need to be a part of and accepted by mainstream society. A small step of putting the transgender signage along with men and women will make a huge difference to the community and we request SJED to do this at the earliest.”
Ms. Munesh Gujjar, Mayor, Nagar Nigam, Heritage emphasized the importance of sanitation in the day to day lives of people. She went on to state that “Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation has been taking significant steps and focused on informal urban slums and especially ensuring that persons with disabilities, elderly, women and girls have access to safe and inclusive toilets in their homes.” she added.
Mr. Ashish Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation stated that, “The Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee members will help the Municipal Corporation reach out to poor households and motivate them to adopt safe practices. They will help the service providers in identifying gaps as well as planning solutions which can benefit the community as well as the Corporation”
Ms Anita Mittal, Deputy Commissioner National Urban Livelihood Mission, asked CFAR to federate the SHGs into Area Level Federation so that “they become self-reliant entrepreneurs and empowered women leaders.”
Members of Adolescent Forum, Ginny, Sonia, Ishrat, drew attention to “lack of WASH services, water and menstrual facilities and female caretakers for girls in schools and public places. Many girls drop out of school due to this” she added.
Ms. Poonam, Single Window Forum stated that it is important not only to build toilets but also maintain them. Ms. Bhawri Devi, Single Window Forum, urged the government to locate the community toilets in accessible locations so that the old and infirm are able to use them. Ms Gopi Devi, Single Window Forum and PwD representative shared that “disabled persons face many difficulties while using the community toilets. None of the toilets are disability-friendly. The Municipal engineers need to consult the community and incorporate simple changes in the design to enable us to access the toilets.”
In her closing remarks Ms. Juhi Jain, Deputy Director, CFAR, emphasized that to reach the SDG goal of safe and sustainable for all by “institutionalizing community engagement and ensuring No One is Left Behind and strengthening Ward level participatory governance with representation of marginal groups”.
In response Shri Ashok Bairwa, Deputy Director, SJED requested CFAR to take the process of facilitation beyond WASH services to social entitlement and other social protection schemes meant for disabled, transgender and vulnerable persons. He finally exhorted CFAR “to keep up the selfless work and support SJED in publicizing the schemes among the needy using the community led mechanism of Single Window.”
Water for Women partner the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) India has taken out top honours at Bhubaneswar’s Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Week celebrations, receiving the Award for Outstanding Contribution to City Sanitation and recognised for their support of self-help group, Jay Jagannath, which received third prize in the Waste Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav or ’75 Glorious Years of India’s Independence’ involves 75 weeks of nationwide celebrations beginning on 12 March 2021 and culminating on the 75th anniversary of Indian independence on 15 August 2023. In Bhubaneswar, a week-long waste to craft challenge and cultural festival from 27 September to 3 October marked the occasion and demonstrated the city’s readiness to safely manage sanitation. Read more
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India disproportionately impacted families living in urban poverty, making it harder for them to access food, healthcare facilities, and the vaccine. As a result, many families were pushed further below the poverty line. To support marginalized communities, the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) is working with partners to organize vaccination drives and provide ration kits.
Thanks to a wide network of volunteers and collaborators from the state governments of Delhi and West Bengal, CFAR is helping adults and children get the resources they need to stay as healthy and stable as possible in dire circumstances. Read More
Some milestones achieved but far to go, say leaders on National Transgender Day
Transgender persons came together to celebrate the National Transgender Day on April 15 and voiced their concerns. April 15, 2021 marked the seventh anniversary of the historic judgment by the Supreme Court of India in which the transgender were recognized as the “third gender.” The celebration was carried out at Kalinga Studio, Kinnar Basti, Bhubaneswar, while communities, members of civil society and supporters connected virtually from Jaipur, Delhi and Pune.
On April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court delivered an important verdict, recognizing transgender as the “third gender”, going beyond the two genders male and female. The Court also ruled that transgender will be included in the list of backward communities and asked the central and state governments to ensure that they access all the basic rights that were guaranteed under the Constitution. Since then, April 15 has been celebrated as the National Transgender Day.
On April 15, SAKHA, a leading community-based organisation working for the rights and entitlements of transgender, and the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), working on inclusive WASH and bettering access of marginalised groups to all social entitlements, joined hands to mark the day for advancing the rights of transgender, generating awareness and understanding on gender equality, social inclusion and facilitate participation and dialogue among all key stakeholders.
This year, the Transgender Day 2021 came during the pandemic which is affecting the community disproportionately and making everyday life a big struggle. Commenting on their employment opportunities, participants said transgender continued to be out of the mainstream and even when employed performed lowly jobs such as collecting waste, which gave them Rs 300-400.
This event provided an opportunity for reflection and exchange to build a more nuanced understanding of the different gender realities especially in the context of WASH, livelihood and work participation of women, workers, trans-persons. Representatives of three Self-help Groups representing men, women and transgender shared their experiences of pursuing sanitation linked livelihood and the opportunities and challenges they are facing due to the pandemic.
Transgender leader Meghna Sahoo said the TG self-help group, Sweekruti, formed by CFAR in 2018, was the first transgender SHG of Odisha, and had become successful and was a model in the state.
Transgender are also entitled to pensions, but many of them do not have the requisite documents to get the pensions. The District Social Security Officer for Khordha, Mr Prasanna Kumar Mallick said “The department will organize Aadhaar camps especially for the transgender so that more of them can be connected to social security schemes.” He also discussed inclusion of some transgender SHG in livelihoods in Khordha district. Under Sweekruti project, CFAR and Chetana Foundation will provide help to the department in mainstreaming transgender.
Laying stress on the importance of education, Ms. Sushree Sujata Behera , PMU Cell, Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department (SSPED), said, “Education is a must for all communities and equally so for transgender. The department provides scholarships for transgender to support parents in educating them. I appeal to all transgender to complete their education.”
She added that 40 years ago, women were in a similar situation and were deprived of education. “Once the transgender get education, they can participate in all activities including livelihoods, and the government will give them all support.”
Akhila Sivadas, CFAR’s Executive Director, said, “The Day is best celebrated by acknowledging the contribution that leaders like Meghana Sahoo, Meera Parida, Sadhana Mishra, Rani Kinner, and many others have made in advancing the rights of transgender persons” She added that “they need to be consulted by government while shaping the integration of transgender in various social development welfare schemes and programmes.”
Water for Women: Mobilizing, Facilitating and Replicating Socially Inclusive WASH Initiatives in India’s Urban Slums, implemented by CFAR, Bhubaneswar supported by Water for Women Fund, Government of Australia
# Building a fairer, healthier World # WHD-2021
World Health Day, April 7, 2021
Collectively ensuring that everyone, everywhere, can realize the right to good health.
World Health Day is celebrated annually on April 7 and each year draws attention to a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme for 2021 is “Building a fairer, healthier world”.
Healthy lifestyle not only has financial benefits. It also helps human beings to effectively contribute to the economic wellbeing of society and growth of the Nation. However, COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many lives and livelihood of people. Migrant workers, daily wage earners, small scale and medium scale industry owners as well moderate income HHs suffered a lot during this pandemic with loss of jobs and livelihoods.
Strengthening Prevention for All
The most severely affected in the crisis are the urban poor living in informal settlements. A majority of them lack social protection and quality health care services. Many of them and their family members also live with co-morbidities. The recent surge in COVID cases across the country has further accentuated their vulnerability and put them the risk of communicable and life threatening diseases and ailments
Community Leads the Way
Last year after the unlockdown process was initiated in phases, Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) trained a cohort of 100 Master Trainers from the urban slums on COVID-19 protocols. The objective was to keep them informed about this new disease that had hit the world and build their capacities for fighting the virus by following the official protocols. This group, in turn, trained another cohort in their respective slums/habitats and residences so that authentic information was shared with the community and the areas could be kept COVID-19 free.
The time has now come, once again, to strengthen the skills of these trainers so that they are able to protect themselves and the communities at large from the Coronavirus infection that has made a comeback after a showing a decline for a few months. While vaccination to protect against the infection is on, it is equally important that people take measures that are effective in protecting them, their families and their communities from Coronavirus.
The purpose of the various events on this day is three fold-educate, build and enabling environment around prevention and protection and facilitate action with support of stakeholders
On the occasion of World Health Day, Single Window Forum and Community Management Committee members, Frontline Line Workers, Slum Development Committee and Master Communicators will come together. Stakeholders present will include, officials from National Health Mission, UPHC, PHC, Ward Officials, Zonal Officials and CSO Partners
The community representatives will reach out to elderly, pregnant, lactating, single women, persons living with disabilities, men and boys to reaffirm their collective resolve to Leave No One Behind and take steps to prevent and protect each other from the onslaught of the mutant Coronavirus.
Master communicators will demonstrate correct techniques of handwashing, wearing masks, maintaining norms of social distancing, avoiding crowded and public spaces.
Information on COVID 19 vaccine will be disseminated by officials of National Health Mission
Activities-April 7, 2021
April 7, 2021, World Health Day is being observed as a part of the project, Water for Women: Mobilizing, Facilitating and Replicating Socially Inclusive WASH Initiatives in India’s Urban Slums, supported by Water for Women Fund, Government of Australia, implemented by CFAR in Jaipur, India.
Nukkad Natak in Parvat Colony, Ward 84 and ICDS Shakti Colony, Ward 78
Awareness on COVID vaccine with ICDS though tradition folklore Katchi Ghodi
Health Camp on COVID Vaccine with Ward Councillor, UPHC, PHC, NHM
Wall messaging in PHC on communicable disease prevention
Reinforcing COVID Appropriate Behaviour by NHM and Master Trainers