Need inputs for developing strategy for scaling up rural sanitation coverage

Discussion Guest Moderator: A. K. Singh, Sulabh International, New Delhi
Posted 20 June 2007

I am pleased to be invited to seek the help of the Water Community for my chosen task. At the Visioning Workshop of the Water Community in March 2007, I volunteered to act as a "convener" for engaging the Community in addressing this important topic.

This e-discussion continues the conversations on the topic from the workshop towards a possible action group assignment for the Community on Strategies for Scaling up Rural Sanitation Coverage.

The grave loss to lives and person days in India due to diseases caused by open defecation is well known. Our country is grappling with the issue of scaling up availability of sanitation to the vast majority through various national programmes, such as the Total Sanitation Campaign. However, many constraints prevent us from ensuring complete coverage to India’s population.

To overcome these constraints, Sulabh International feels that a three pronged strategy needs to be adopted:

  1. Creating a demand for safe sanitation services: through social marketing of sanitation and behaviour change communication for rural sanitation.
  2. Meeting the demand for safe sanitation services: Once the demand has been created, ensuring delivery of these services through capacity building of masons and providing a wide range of suitable sanitation technologies.
  3. Ensuring sustainability of sanitation infrastructure and behaviour: Institutional, policy and other measures to ensure sustainability of sanitation infrastructure and behaviour.

We will discuss each of these issues for a week and spend the fourth week on finalising the strategy for the Action Group.

Let us begin the discussions this week by taking up the first issue of creating demand. My specific questions to the Community on creating demand are given below:

Question 1: Creation of a Demand for Safe Sanitation Services

  • What are the ways in which a demand for sanitation can be created in rural areas?
  • What are the essential ingredients of the design of a communication strategy for social marketing of sanitation? How should the communication strategy target different sections, such as women and children?
  • What should be the strategy to undertake social marketing of sanitation using the 4 Ps – Promotion, Product, Price, and Place (of delivery)?

Question 2: Meeting the Demand for Safe Sanitation Services

  • Once demand is created, how do we ensure that good quality and appropriate sanitation options are available to rural population at the right price, place and time, once demand has been created? How can concerns of marginalized groups, such as women, be integrated into the programme?
  • What are the suggested steps to create a minimum pool of skilled manpower for sanitation at village/ Panchayat level? How do we orient and build capacities of NGOs for supporting the above effort?
  • What could be methods for making various technological options for sanitation available for different categories of rural population? What is the role of the private sector (including village artisans and local entrepreneurs) in the same?

Question 3: Sustainability of Sanitation infrastructure and Behavior
What would be the strategies for ensuring sustainability of sanitation infrastructure, its maintenance and sanitation behaviour? Members may like to consider the following, for example:

1. Creating appropriate institutions

  • Suggestions for creating a coordinated mechanism between Line Departments, Panchayats, masons, village level committees, Self-Help-Groups, Women’s groups, NGOs for availability and sustainability of sanitation services at village level.
  • Role of existing sanitation related institutions such as Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU) and the District Water and Sanitation Committee.
  • Role of Public-Private-Community partnerships in scaling up rural sanitation.

2. Creating a favorable policy environment

  • Experiences of implementation of TSC in different parts of the country.
  • Areas where the guidelines need to be updated to include best practices.
  • Mechanisms to integrate gender concerns into the policy.
  • Gap areas in existing policy environment that needs to be filled urgently.

3. Any other suggestions by members on sustainability.

For a detailed Background Paper, complete list of questions, and recommended readings, please click the link: res01

Please see attachment below for the responses.