NIAR organised a two-day conference on 'Decentralized governance in water and sanitation in rural India' at LBSNAA, Mussoorie, in June 2012. This seminar aimed to provide a platform for the effective sharing of experiences of PRI-implemented WATSAN service delivery programmes and so understand the various factors affecting the effective decentralisation of water and sanitation. The discussions during the latter two themes are presented below.
Focal theme III: WATSAN sector in rural India: Key stakeholders, their concerns, roles and responsibilities
Decentralised governance necessarily involves a diverse array of stakeholders. This session discusses these stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities. Several papers focus on the aspect of convergence of the many schemes and programmes established by the government, and cooperation between the government, NGOs, and communities. The three levels of rural local government, district, block and village, as well as NGOs, need to be strengthened with adequate training in management and technical skills. Within the community, it is necessary to include gender issues and the rights of marginalised groups in the planning, implementation, and O&M framework.
Water and sanitation impacts health, education and governance. It is therefore necessary to not look at WATSAN as a separate issue, but link it with these sectors and programmes. Similarly, the benefits of looking at WATSAN delivery from a service approach that is driven by the consumers was illustrated using the Orissa example. Similarly, the success of CLAWSES in Uttarakhand illustrates the efficacy of community involvement in water quality monitoring and surveillance.
Roles and functions of the three levels of rural local government in WATSAN programme: Arvind Kumar, SARAN-SWASTH (DFID)
So far, while the legal framework to transfer water and sanitation to the PRIS is in place, certain challenges need to be overcome. These include limited accountability, inadequate representation of disadvantaged groups, insufficient clarification of roles and functions, and lack of a monitoring system.
The presentation described the roles and functions of DWSM and DWSC which includes formulation, management and monitoring of projects, selection of agencies, sensitization of representatives, engaging capacity building institutions, and coordination with various agencies. Similarly, the role and functions of VWSC were also elaborated upon. This includes ensuring community participation, arranging community contribution, supervision, commissioning and takeover of WATSAN works, collection of funds for O&M, managing and financing O&M, participation in HRD and IEC activities in other villages after completion of scheme in own village, and creating awareness.
Traditional groups like those of Kirtan singers are an important tool to promote sanitation and hygiene (courtesy: Dr.Mapuskar)
Participation and contribution by NGOs in WASH programmes in rural India: Mapuskar
The supply driven programme having met with limited success, the government strategy has now shifted to a demand driven programme. The presentation traces the involvement of NGOs in the WASH sector from the 1920s to the present age. The role of NGOs in WASH activities include facilitation at various levels, training various groups, research and development, and implementation, esp of pilot projects. Some guidelines for the selection, evaluation, strengthening and funding of NGOs are also given.
Forging links and synergy amongst various schemes and programmes on water and sanitation: Namrata Pathak, CEMDE, University of Delhi
The challenges facing this sector are water quality, quantity ,implementing low cost sanitation, and discrepancies in access. In Delhi, rain water harvesting is not successful even 10 years after it was made compulsory. The reasons for this have been stated as involved bureaucracy, lack of funds, and poor maintenance. Catering to the growing population, especially in the case of increasing urban slums is not easy. Malnutrition is exacerbated by poor WATSAN which leads to worm infections and diarrhoea, forming a vicious cycle. These two factors also lead to drop outs from school. School sanitation and hygiene also contributes to improvement in education, gender equality, and health. Engagement with diverse members of the community, shift from subsidies to encouragement, appropriate technology options, and local supply chains are crucial to increasing sanitation coverage. National schemes and programmes that deal with water, sanitation and hygiene in schools were discussed.
Consumer oriented sustainable water service delivery, a reality or Fata Morgana: Brecht Mommen & Pravin More, WASH, UNICEF
'Fata morgana' is an illusion. This presentation examines the issue of consumer oriented sustainable water service delivery through a case study from Orissa and aims to determine if it is reality or merely an illusion. Statistics concerning water sources, distribution of water supply schemes were presented. Water as a service was evaluated using the parameters of water quality, cost, institutional reforms, accountability, HR, and involvement with the private sector.
Innovative contracts including water assurance, total warranty schemes and hand pump leasing schemes may improve transparency and service provision. To do this, private sector needs to be engaged with. Recommendations:
- adopt a life cycle approach,
- determine service levels,
- develop costs and financing overviews,
- strengthening accountability by decentralisation,
- improve water quality,
- improve spare part supply lines
Availability and delivery of appropriate rural sanitation technologies up to grass root level in WASH programmes in Rural India: Mapuskar
WASH implementation has been in progress in India for two decades. It is now time for mid-course corrections if necessary. Matters can be improved by moving from a supply driven to demand driven approach. Demand is generated by a 'felt need' which can be created by IEC efforts that build up community awareness. Capacity building of PRIs and community is essential for efficient implementation.
Urban technologies like conventional sewerage systems cannot be transferred to rural settings. Conventional sewage disposal is also problematic in urban settings since they not only use a tremendous quantity of water, but also pollute ground and surface water. The parameters to be evaluated while selecting appropriate technologies are listed in the presentation. The expertise required, lacunae in human resources and knowledge, and means of developing the necessary technologies are described. Mr. Mapuskar recommends that technology choice should be left to the community with proper capacity building.
Gender aspects and decentralisation of water governance in the Mekong Basin, Dr. Seng Amphone Chithtalath
The case of Nam Xong sub-basin in Laos was described. The Mekong River Commission was requested to implement a pilot project in Nam Xong in 2010. A water resources management committee was formed and training in gender main streaming in watershed management was provided. This led to an awareness of the need to focus on water, land and forests. Surveys indicated a lack of environmental education amongst women. The authority that was created assigned a coordinator and village committee for environmental protection.
The following changes were implemented:
- all households and restaurants to reduce draining of waste water,
- women involved in committee and decision making,
- control of water quality,
- Regular meeetings
- draft policy for the basin,
The key factors for success were constant commitment and support from government, MRC technical support, support from local businesses, and active local leadership.
The challenges being faced right now are an increased dependence on the MRC and NGOs, a lack of women in technical positions, no male in gender working group, lack of experience on PRA and project management, and lack of IWRM competencies.
Strengthening PRIs through water quality and sanitary surveillance- A case study of Nainital District, Uttarakhand: Anil Kumar Mishra, NIAR
This presentation reports on the experience of a project titled 'Community-led action for water safety and environment sanitation' (CLAWSES) that aims to promote community involvement in the national rural drinking water quality monitoring and surveillance programme. The methodology of the programme is explained in detail in the presentation. The significant outcomes of CLAWSES are:
- Communities in 32 of 35 GPs assessed the risks with a sanitary survey and tested all 341 water sources for water quality
- 14 of 32 GPs repeated H2S tests during monsoon
- 7 GPs undertook water testing a third time
- 10 GPs self-declared open defecation free status
Focal Theme IV: WATSAN sector in rural India: Current and future challenges
The implementation of WATSAN programmes, even in a decentralized manner, presents several challenges. The main challenges are lack of awareness, distrust, little or no cooperation among the stakeholders, exclusion of marginalised communities and lack of timely release of funds. These challenges are presented in this session, along with possible solutions. The presentations emphasised that the basic issue in the total sanitation campaign is the adoption of safe sanitation and hygiene habits, with construction of toilets being a secondary concern.
The Assam experience details the necessity of providing PRIs with material support in the form of money and required chemicals. Similarly, the odds faced by gram panchayats and the importance of providing them with adequate training and institutional support is illustrated by the Karnataka experience. Increased involvement of communities, utilization of properly constructed infrastructure and a detailed assessment of availability of water resources is necessary for effective implementation of WATSAN services. Use of popular media to promote the message of hygiene is also stressed. Convergence can be achieved by setting up coordination mechanisms, capacity building of functionaries, and identifying of key components for convergence.
Strategies for improving sanitation coverage include focusing on districts with a high concentration of open defecators, and on districts with high female literacy. An innovative health insurance product linked to sanitation for households in lower income quintiles is also recommended.
Water security pilot programme in Assam- Gains and Gaps: Rushabh Hemani, Runti Choudhury, Chandan Mahanta, Somnath Basu, Partha Pratim Barua
The water security pilot programme ties in with the NRDWP, and strengthens the achievement of its goals. This has led to laboratory upgradation and capacity building, extensive sanitary surveys, and community mobilization. Due to the success of this pilot, PHED has now expended the programme into nine additional districts.
The main challenges are lack of awareness, trust and cooperation amongst the stakeholders. The other issues are delays in release of funds (both incentive and remuneration of the Jal surakshaks), non-replenishment of reagents and intermittent power supply.
Capacity issues in devolution of power to local authorities: Sonali Srivastava, Arghyam
Arghyam's Gram Panchayat organization development project in Karnataka focuses on institution building of Gram panchayats. The presentation contrasts the support that the gram panchayats need to function effectively with what they actually get. Mechanisms to improve these issues are then explained. These centre around better transparency at higher levels and institutional building at the GP level.
Provision of water related services to rural population- experience from Malaysia, Azuhan Mohamed, Erinco.
The federal constitutional amendment of 2005 brought water supply under the concurrent list, while water resources remained under the state list. To accommodate this, new legislation and new institutions were developed. The effect of this constitutional amendment on water services and the restructuring required was detailed in the presentation.
In Malaysia, the water asset management company acquires all water resources from the state and provides water services. There is a focus on surface water for urban water supplies as well as rural. For rural areas, there is a focus on connections to existing facilities. The ministry of rural & regional development and the Ministry of Health responsible for water supply &alternative water supply, and water quality surveillance, water supply and environmental sanitation respectively.
The obstacles to successful provision of water supply are difficulty of access to water supply and sanitation facilities, old projects, poor participation, lack of proper technologies, frequent damage to intakes due to rain, and need for improved assessment in provision of water services. The author recommended increased involvement of communities, utilization of properly constructed spring capture for gravity feed system, improved intakes to GFS, and a detailed assessment of availability of water resources to improve the situation. Various recommended technologies were explained. Many options for rural water supply schemes are available. However, suitable technology needs to applied. In order to make an informed choice, institutional transformation and awareness raising is necessary.
80% of rural morbidity in India is due to lack of safe drinking water (Courtesy: Joe Madiath and Anusha Bharadwaj)
Social and gender equality for water and sanitation in rural India- Building social capital using water and sanitation: Joe Madiath (presenter) and Anusha Bharadwaj, Gram Vikas
and sanitation. Carrying water is gender-specific drudgery with even little girls recruited to carry water, especially during the summer months. Exclusion of marginalised groups- dalits, widows etc- is a bane to society. Thus, the dual challenges in the WASH sector are inclusion and providing water and sanitation.
In the Gram Vikas programme 'MANTRA' water and sanitation becomes a vehicle for social inclusion. The methodology of the project was discussed, as was the sustainability the project aims for. It aims for institutional, social, financial and environmental sustainability. Payment for water is done on a volumetric basis. Gram Vikas has experienced that behavioural change is easier when there is 100% coverage. Source sustainability is a part of the project, and in times of drought, water supply is given priority.
Water hygiene and female education to promote better health for children in rural areas: Avdesh Pratap (presenter) and Raman Kant, NEER Foundation
Several laws and policies exist for women’s empowerment. However there is no law on the issue of educating women in hygiene. Lack of water and sanitation lead to increase in mortality, and reduce the coping capacity of poor households. River Kali in Meerut is contaminated. This has also led to the groundwater resources being polluted. Neer foundation is focusing on education of women in appropriate water collection and storage. This has led to a decrease in occurrence of water borne diseases. The presentation stressed the importance of community participation and raising awareness through creative means. Use of popular media to promote the message of hygiene is also stressed.
Scaling up rural sanitation programme in India with quality and convergence : Urvashi Prasad, consultant, MoDW&S
There are three levels of convergence, functions, funds and functionaries. The various components of each were listed. Potential areas of convergence are with the national rural livelihood mission for operation and maintenance, ministry of new and renewable energy sources for biogas reactors, and ministry of youth affairs to access motivators in awareness generation. The importance and mechanism of evolving a convergence framework was emphasised in this presentation. The steps required to strengthen convergence are setting up coordination mechanisms, capacity building of functionaries, and identification of key components for convergence.
Achieving sanitation MDG in Uttar Pradesh: Manish Kumar, Sonali David of WSP
Achieving sanitation goals in India is dependent on what is achieved in UP, because of its sheer size in terms of geographical area and population.In terms of population, four districts contribute 11% of open defecation in UP, and 18 districts contribute 37% of open defecation.
Independent variables impacting toilet use are percent literate female population, percent literate male population, households with BPL cards, households with piped drinking water, cumulative TSC expenditure in the district. Of these, water supply has the most significant impact on toilet use, followed by female literacy. One impact of this study is that now the government has decided to treat water supply and sanitation together, rather than as separate entities. This study concludes that it is preferable to focus on districts with higher concentration of open defecators in terms of numbers rather than percentage. Focus on districts with high female literacy will lead to initial success, which will also motivate the project as a whole. The author recommends developing an innovative health insurance product linked to sanitation for households in lower income quintiles.
Three case studies where successful decentralisation of water supply and sanitation were carried out were discussed which highlight the importance of community involvement including the use of traditional systems of management and the indispensable role of women.
Social Marketing of sanitation and hygiene: CC Dey, Ram Krishnan Mission, Kolkata
The basic issue in the total sanitation campaign is the adoption of safe sanitation and hygiene habits, with construction of toilets being a secondary concern. Social marketing is the systematic application of marketing approaches to achieve goals of behavioural change. The essential components of this approach were listed.
A demand driven sanitation movement was led by the Ramkrishna Mission, UNICEF, and local PRIs in Medinipur in 1990. The programme focused on sensitising the entire community on safe sanitation and its effects on economy and health. A network of CBOs and sanitation motivators was developed. Initially, the CBOs and NGOs were given the primary role in implementation. From 1995, PRIs began playing primary role in the sanitation movement. Education, awareness, and informed choice was the basis of the project. Accordingly, the community was given a choice of different toilet models.
Water security plan for ensuring sustainability of sources- Institutional roles and responsibilities : Pranabjyothi Nath
Kerala has a strong tradition of decentralisation of governance, including peoples movements. Jalanidhi comprises a number of small schemes which provide for 40-50 households. The first phase of the project indicated some sustainability issues. Later, a water security plan was initiated for each project. Ensuring that the source is sustainable and will provide a secure supply of water is now a primary part of each project. This is ensured by hydro-geological surveys, water quality surveys, demand estimates, implementation of recharge measures and implementation of measures for maintaining environmental health. The details of preparing the water security plan were explained in this presentation.
Read the discussions for themes I and II here.
Video recordings of a few selected talks can be accessed here.
Download the presentations for themes III and IV below: