Step by step: Achieving sustainable sanitation - Lessons from civil society experiences - A report by Arghyam

This document highlights the outcomes of Arghyam's research and discussions on the experiences of civil society organisations involved in implementing sustainable sanitation campaigns.

Several concerns were raised during the discussions on the the manner in which the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was being implemented, followed by identification of steps that were needed to ensure social, technical, institutional, financial and environmental sustainability of the programme.

The discussions revealed that:

  • The TSC indeed led to the mainstreaming of sanitation in India. However, more emphasis was placed on hardware targets, while social mobilisation had been largely ignored. Thus, inspite of increase in the coverage of toilets, their usage and sustainability had remained low.

  • Experiences of civil society organisations indicated that a sanitation campaign needed to address a range of social, technical, financial, institutional and environmental concerns to be sustainable, rather than focusing exclusively on the technical aspects.
  • A closer look at the TSC revealed that three critical elements needed strengthening to ensure sustainability:
    • Software: Social mobilisation, capacity building and IEC for behavioural change
    • Hardware: Appropriate technology, integration with water management
    • Governance: Integrated and participatory planning, institution building and convergence

It was important to allocate adequate time and resources, both human and financial, to each of these. Prior experience indicated that civil society organisations had taken between three to five years to implement sustainable sanitation campaigns.

The report highlights a preliminary template formulated by Arghyam on the phases involved in a sustainable sanitation campaign, based on responses from civil society organisations. These consist of four distinct phases that involve planning, laying the foundation, implementation and finally ensuring that the toilets constructed continue to remain in use. The key aspects of the campaign include:

  • Building relationships with the community
  • Selecting appropriate hardware
  • Ensuring the smooth flow of funds
  • Monitoring quality and inculcating a sense of ownership

The report concludes by highlighting the urgent need for documenting other such processes and experiences in different contexts that have been attempted across the country to make the sanitation effort sustainable and argues that these can go along way in facilitating better informed changes at the policy level.

Download the report from the Arghyam website here.




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