Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

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  • Sanchita
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Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

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We have all read this, haven't we? www.mdws.gov.in/sites/default/files/R_274_1441280478318.pdf

The definition is sacrosanct, and suggestive indicators in form a model checklist has been drawn up. States have the flexibility to modify the indicators and come up with a mechanism to verify. How is is that working ?

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  • mathewmattam
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

ODF related issues
Rat race for ODF blocks and districts and not villages and gram panchayats: I heard that in one district, there was a meeting to assess the progress of ODF gram panchayats. But the discussion was around how many blocks can be declared open defecation free. They want to be part of the state’s decision to declare 15 blocks ODF on 15th August. Thank God, the state mission avoided 15 districts to be declared and the centre is not planning 15 states. In this rat race to declare blocks open defecation free, they forget gram Panchayat which is the smallest unit. In this process gram Panchayat is not anywhere, people are nowhere while administration everywhere talks about ODF Panchayat.
Very often verifications are thrust upon gram panchayats by the blocks and districts. It is district administration who wants Pachayats to be declared ODF and not the people in the panchayats. Even the verification team is adequately trained. Somehow the guideline is bye-passed to achieve the political mileage of declaring number of ODF pachayats and blocks. Again it is a number game. I wonder whether ODF will go the NGP way after 2019. Probably the next government at the centre will come out with another 3 letter word and another mile stone and with additional incentive.

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  • sdeshpande
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

Personally I feel we should not be measuring how many people are using toilets or not as this changes on a daily basis and a village declared ODF today may not be in a few months time. The monitoring is problematic and when officers and other monitors are being pushed to achieve targets we run the risk of false data.

I think instead the measuring tool should be water usage vs. wastewater treatment as that cleans up the environment and automatically means bathrooms and toilets must exist. Trying to do this will have a greater impact on livelyhood and health than anything else.
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  • Sowmya
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

Water usage / wastewater treatment as a ODF measure could be difficult in areas where a centralized sanitation technology (such as, sewers) is not feasible. Some notes:

1. Centralized sanitation technologies are not feasible in rural areas and small cities:
"The capital intensity of the current waste system results in the fact that cities can only provide for a few and not for all. It is also a fact that smaller cities cannot afford a sewage drainage system, let alone a sewage treatment system." (due to capital requirements for both one-time building cost & annual O&M expenditure) [Excerpts from Report of the Working Group on Urban and Industrial Water Supply and Sanitation for 12th FYP submitted to the Steering Committee - Nov 2011]

Thus, in rural areas & small cities, a sewer system is not economically feasible. Census info on the number of villages with very less population can demonstrate this further. While a panchayat or an administrative unit is based on population, that population could be spread across several small villages. This means that toilet facilities/use by a large proportion of India's population cannot be measured by wastewater treatment.

2. Water supply projects are delinked from sanitation:
Water supply is sort of a separate domain though we tend to club water supply and sanitation together for advocacy purposes (and there are also comprehensive water supply & sanitation projects). It is very much possible to have a water supply project without toilets being built. As per prescribed standards, it is only necessary for a water project to provide for ablution in estimating household water requirement but not necessary that there should be a toilet in existence.

Again, given the metering problem & transmission loss in water supply projects, it is difficult to estimate toilets being built/used.

3. Wastewater treatment:
At present, we have only 38% of sewerage water generated connected to sewerage treatment plants (STPs). So, even for urban areas, STP measurement may not be the correct measure.

4. It has been found that only 100% ODF communities can look forward significant reduction in diarrhea. While standards exist for provision of water for ablution, the actual consumption could differ (a low-flush would consume lesser water compared to regular flush toilet, for instance). So, water usage may not be the correct indicator.

There is difference between indoor sanitation, ODF (defined in the guidelines as toilets + safe disposal) and the advanced stages of completing the sanitation chain (viz., treatment and waste recovery).

A question reg ODF definition in the guidelines: ODF is defined to include safe technology option which means "no contamination of surface soil, ground water or surface water; excreta inaccessible to flies or animals; no handling of fresh excreta; and freedom from odour and unsightly condition)". If the technology option should not contaminate ground or surface water, will toilets connected to sewer systems that do not have a treatment plant (and hence pollute rivers) be considered unsafe technology? In which case, all these toilets would not get counted for ODF measurement purposes? If the Village Survey Questionnaire does not count "Toilet is connected to a closed drain which empties into open area, pond, nallahs, river etc. without treatment", how is it acceptable if a sewerage plant empties wastewater into a river?

Another question is whether the guidelines regarding questionnaire is fixed and should be adopted across all States. If States can change the questions, data definition and comparability of data between states could be a nightmare for the central govt's online database system. Also wondering if the online database has all these datafields - or would it be different.


Regards,
Sowmya
Sowmya Rajasekaran
Director
Verity SmartLife Solutions
www.veritysmartlife.com
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  • johnsonrhenius
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

States have developed ODF verification guidelines based on the guidelines developed by GOI. The challenge is that the focus of SBM G is on toilet and not behavior change. States do use the checklist but the slip backs may be huge. In Odisha though the same process is just initiated I know of a ODF declared block which has huge slip backs.
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  • hirudiaraj
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Re:

Dear Nitya,
Good that you have initiated the SuSanA forum.
The SBM initiative is very much appreciated along with the good progress of sanitation coverage since 2012. Many villages, blocks, districts and states have declared ODF status but the question is how will they sustain. Several states have been implementing the SBM on a target mode without giving due importance to Institutional arrangement to sustain the ODF status. Although behavior change or CLTS approach is adopted as a pre-requisite to construction of IIHL. Already several ODF villages or GP have started slipping back. The institutions such as the Nigrani committees /Vigilance committees formed during the process of ODF, do not function post ODF. Majority of the VWSCs are not active / non-functional due to various reasons.

Hence Institutional strengthening should be given the highest priority in order to sustain ODF status.

Hirudia Raj
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

ODF is the mantra under this sanitation campaign. This is a welcome change from merely making toilets. Last year the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation issued guidelines for declaring communities ODF that are comprehensive and realistic. The issue is who verifies, since methods existed earlier. The implementer and verification agency needs to be different since otherwise there is a tendency to report inaccurately. I feel panchayats should be made responsible and trained for reporting but not implementation. Construction of toilets by panchayats is already discouraged in many states. A better system for reporting is needed now to make it stronger and less prone to fudging such as using GPS for marking coordinates.

ODF itself is a means to an end, and should not become the end itself. While an important milestone, it is just that - a milestone towards improving the quality of life. The danger in making it an end means it will become another target, that should be avoided. Perhaps the end could be tangible such as a clean and green village where open defecation, drinking water and solid-liquid waste have been properly handled. The India Sanitation Coalition can provide a platform towards taking this concept further.
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  • nityajacob
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Re:

Yes Raj, institutions are critical. Your suggestion that local institutions be made sustainable is valuable.
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  • Sanchita
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

Among very valid points, I would like to second your observation regarding lack of systematic and standardized training of verifiers. Who the verifier is puzzles me. Have you come across standard and structured training modules for verification in States? Will be interesting to know how differently each State looks at it.
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  • Sanchita
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? ArTe there any outliers?

Great insights. As you rightly pointed, there is a need to include SLWM in ODF verification and having standard questions across board for data comparability. Have you come across specific instances (of States) that have additional set of indicators for ODF? Kerala?
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  • Pradeep Mohapatra
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Re: Policy and Institutions – 2 years of Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin/Rural)

There has substantial increase in numbers in construction of toilets. but quality and usability may not be be keeping pace so need to be improved. Still there is a notion that sanitation is only about making toilets. I feel sanitation is a broad theme that is linked to whole gamut of activities at the household level to make a clean, safe and enabling environment to make it safe and secure.
This has a lot to do with backward and forward linkages, policy-practice linkages and programming, i.e., action-reflection-advocacy and research on what to do next after a programme is complete.
There should not be any subsidy. This instead can be linked to promotional or incentive work for those who are focusing on quality and usability.
Sanitation ambassadors/brigadiers should be promoted among village youths/women and groups.
Coming to change, to make a community ODF and ensure use of toilets, I feel it is difficult to advocate for behaviour change when most of the funds are allocated for construction. In my opinon there should be stringent law that stipulates a penalty for those who are not able to follow its. I may state here that Hong Kong was considered as one of the dirtiest and ugliest cities, but now is a clean and beautiful place place because schoolchildren were involved and a stringent policy was instituted. Children can be powerful agents of change as they look at three generations together: themselves, parents and grandparents!
I therefore feel we should invest more on children education and use children as change agents, followed by policy advocacy.

Am a Development Catalyst close to three-decades with an emotional relationship with grassroot communities. There are evidences to minimizing poverty , distress migration , vulnerabilities & Maximizing benefit from cross sector programs connecting culture-water-nature- life & lifestyle . I have been working with various constituents in eco-development & community-resilience . Am deeply advocating localize the SDGs and pursuing for local action & global networking towards risk informed resilient development with micro-macro linkages.
I have been trying to capitalize mainstream resources impact to livelihoods & climate-justice with focused activities on landscape advancement, wise water use,WASH Governance, & Nutrition and ecosystem based initiatives, local biodiversity conservation, green energy drive. These have well accepted along with life skill building integration, innovations & inclusion towards a broad based livelihoods in cultivating solutions for people & planet
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  • hirudiaraj
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Re: Are all states using the model checklist provided by the Government of India for ODF verification? Are there any outliers?

You are right. Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) is also essential in addition to ODF to make the villages clean and green. If I am not wrong except Odisha State no other state developed a State Level Policy on SLWM in rural areas. GOI has circulated a broad guidelines on SLWM-Rural for the states to develop their own state specific SLWM policy. Based on this guidelines Odisha State with the support DFID has developed a State Level policy framework on SLWM. The rest of the states need to develop the SLWM policy which is very essential.
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