The mere presence of toilets does very little to change sanitation behaviour in the absence of community ownership and participation. A decade ago, this was more or less the story of Tiruchirapalli, one of the least hygienic cities in the country then.
One of the stated Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations is to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and to halve the proportion of population left without the same by 2015.
Despite India’s multi-decade battle to eliminate open defecation, toilets are absent in 69% of rural India (Census 2011).
Rural sanitation is primarily funded by the Union Government. The state governments and beneficiaries contribute towards construction and maintenance of toilets as well.
In partnership with the Government of Karnataka, Arghyam ran a communication campaign aimed at creating a demand for improved sanitation.
On-site sanitation systems are options which help treat the waste at source, rather than dealing with it several miles away in a centralized manner. In the absence of sewerage systems and piped supplies, communities have to devise decentralized ways to deal with their shit. Some of the most common on-site sanitation systems include septic tanks and pit latrines.
The 73rd amendment to the Constitution of India made Gram Panchayats the hub of all activities in the rural sphere. It gave legitimacy to Panchayat institutions, devolving powers as well as finances for their effective functioning.
Author: Radhika Viswanathan