Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

The social dynamics around shared sanitation in an informal settlement of Lusaka, Zambia

The social dynamics around shared sanitation in an informal settlement of Lusaka, Zambia. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, December 2018.

This study explored the social dynamics affecting collective management of shared sanitation in Bauleni compound of Lusaka, Zambia. journal.jpeg

Pit latrines were predominantly shared by landlords and tenants on residential plots. However, unwelcome non-plot members also used the latrines due to a lack of physical boundaries. Not all plot members equally fulfilled their cleaning responsibilities, thereby compromising the intended benefits for those conforming.

Landlords typically decided on latrine improvements independent of tenants. Latrines were not systematically monitored or maintained, but punishment for non-conformers was proportionate to the level of infraction. There was no system in place for conflict resolution, nor local organizations to regulate the management of sanitation.

Lastly, there were few enterprises associated with peri-urban sanitation. Social capital was moderately high, and tenants were willing to invest money into improving sanitation. The social dynamics illuminated here provide an important basis for the development of a behavioural intervention targeted towards improving urban sanitation.

World Bank – Shifting Social Norms to Reduce Open Defecation in Rural India

Shifting Social Norms to Reduce Open Defecation in Rural India. World Bank, December 2018.

This study of Uttar Pradesh systematically measures relevant social norms and cultural schema persistent in rural villages. The study finds two pathways through which social norms inhibit latrine use: (i) beliefs/expectations that others do not use latrines or find open defecation unacceptable; and (ii) beliefs about ritual notions of purity that dissociate latrines from cleanliness.

The study finds a statistically significant positive relationship between latrine use and social norms. To confront these, the study piloted an information campaign to test the effectiveness of rebranding latrine use and promoting positive social norms, by making information about growing latrine use among latrine owners more salient.

The results show statistically significant improvements in open defecation practices across all treatment households, with latrine use scores in treatment villages increasing by up to 11 percent, relative to baseline. Large improvements were also observed in pro-latrine beliefs.

This suggests that low-cost information campaigns can effectively improve pro-latrine beliefs and practices, as well as shift perceptions of what others find acceptable vis-à-vis open defecation

Community-based approaches to tackle open defecation in rural India: Theory, evidence and policies

Community-based approaches to tackle open defecation in rural India: Theory, evidence and policies. Observer Research Foundation, December 2018.

Open defecation (OD), an age-old practice in India, impacts the health of individuals as well as their communities. To tackle the problem, the Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in 2014, aimed at making the country open-defecation free (ODF) by October 2019 by giving more attention to community-based approaches.

However, while such approaches have helped solve the sanitation riddle in many countries, curbing OD in India is much more complicated: the root of the problem is a combination of lack of sanitation infrastructure and deep-seated habits. So far, India’s sanitation policies have used the top-down approach, focusing on financial assistance for latrine construction.

While this is necessary, considering the social determinants at play, the emphasis must be on changing collective behaviour through participatory methods, a component that has been largely absent from past policies on sanitation.

Demand-driven approaches must be adopted, keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses and ensuring equity-focused actions through community-monitored, locally appropriate and culturally sensitive interventions.

Understanding the Problems of India’s Sanitation Workers

Understanding the Problems of India’s Sanitation Workers. The Wire, November 13, 2018.

Despite increasing focus by the government and programmes such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, unsafe sanitation work, loosely captured under the catch-all phrase manual scavenging, still exists in India. There are five million people employed in sanitation work of some sort in India with about two million of them working in ‘high risk’ conditions.

Here is the first article in a series which introduces the situation of sanitation workers in the country, their different personas, the challenges they face, and the solutions that are essential to improving this situation.

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Credit: Dalberg Advisors

The last few years have been the golden age for sanitation in India. What started out as the Total Sanitation Campaign in the 1990s morphed into the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan under the UPA Government and then transformed into the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with full gusto driven by the prime minister’s special attention.

This translated directly into increased budgets, a mission-mode implementation across the country and by official estimates, 80 million additional toilets getting constructed. Now, over 89% of the country’s population has access to a household toilet, compared to 40% in 2014.

Read the complete article.

Water access and sanitation shape birth outcomes and earning potential

Water access and sanitation shape birth outcomes and earning potential. Mongabay, November 8, 2018. mongabay.png

  • Spending more time per day fetching water increased Indian women’s risk of delivering a low birth weight baby, a study has said.
  • Open defecation and using a shared latrine within a woman’s building or compound were also associated with higher odds of low birth weight and pre-term births, respectively, compared to having a private household toilet.
  • The researchers believe that improving water, sanitation and health access and/or reducing gender-based harassment could reduce these adverse birth outcomes.
  • Another study pointed out that enhanced access to a reliable and proximate water supply reduced the time spent by women in collecting water and the proportion of hard labour performed by women. In addition, the thus freed may be spent on other income generating activities.

Read the complete article.

New guide on female-friendly toilets by WaterAid, WSUP and Unicef

1 in 3 people across the world don’t have a decent toilet of their own. But it’s not just a question of lacking a household toilet – low availability of public and community toilets is also an issue. Where they do exist, these facilities often don’t meet the needs of women and girls, undermining women’s human rights.

The ‘Female-friendly guide‘, out in October 2018 and written by WaterAid, UNICEF and WSUP, is designed primarily for use by local authorities in towns and cities who are in charge of public and community toilets. It’s also useful for national governments, public and private service providers, NGOs, donors and civil society organisations who play a role in delivering these services.

The guide explains why toilets must be female-friendly, before detailing the essential and desirable features needed to make them so. It also suggests ways to increase gender sensitivity in town planning on sanitation.

Recommendations and practical steps have been drawn from existing literature, expert opinion and analysis of pioneering experiences from around the world.

The guide is available to download now, and will also be presented at the UNC Water and Health Conference on 1 November 2018.

Download “Female-friendly public and community toilets: a guide for planners and decision makers”.

This news item was originally published on WaterAid’s WASH Matters website.

Jack Sim – Making India open defecation free

Opinion | Making India open defecation free. by Jack Sim in Livemint, October 17, 2018.

Many people view toilets as impure and refrain from installing them within their household premises 

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The risks associated with open defecation in India are not just restricted to diseases. Rapes occur when women and young girls are on their way to fields to defecate at night. Photo: Mint

For most of us, going to the toilet is as simple and natural as breathing. However, for many it is a daily nightmare. About 2.3 billion people in the world do not have access to clean, safe and reliable toilets. They have to walk for miles every day to reach a safe spot where they can relieve themselves in the open. Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 deaths worldwide, annually.

In India, about 732 million people do not have access to proper toilets. As much as 90% of the river water is contaminated by faeces. People drink water from the same rivers, bathe and wash their clothes and utensils there, and even cook food with the contaminated water. Pathogens and worms from the faeces spread life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, schistosomiasis and trachoma.

Read the complete article.