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

Dear All,

We have had a few thought provoking responses to the ODF discussion. From the comments, I have culled the following to summarize the discussion.

ODF is the mantra under this sanitation campaign. This is a welcome change from merely making toilets towards behaviour change. 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. Is the model checklist followed? The implementer and verification agency need to be different since otherwise there is a tendency to report inaccurately.
Panchayats should be made responsible and trained for reporting but not implementation as a way forward. The construction of toilets by panchayats known as the contractor model is already discouraged in many states. A better and robust system for reporting is needed now to make it stronger and less prone to data fudging such as using GPS for marking coordinates.
In several state, panchayats declare themselves ODF but the block and district authorities wait a few months before conducting a verification visit. This allows them time to check if toilets are indeed being used continuously or the panchayat has ‘slipped back’. Typically, encouraging use over a few months make the habit permanent. This is another welcome, subtle step in ensuring ODF sticks.

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.
It has been found that only 100% ODF communities can look forward significant reduction in diarrhoea. 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 regarding 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?

I hope you will continue to provide your comments and inputs on the upcoming discussions here.

Warm regards,
Sanchita

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  • Pradeep Mohapatra
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Re: Health Sanitation and environmental concerns

Sanitation – What & How: but possible to make ODF
It must be appreciated that some veteran development workers initiated a modest but passionate engagement way back in the 1980s to promote sanitation on a large scale that has today reached the current scale, thanks to the Government’s ambitious Mission, the Swachha Bharat Abhiyan. While, pledging our full support to this encouraging development, we in our own humble way have the following few things to say:
• We understand sanitation as primarily two components; (a) a condition that affects health with regard to garbage and infection; and (b) a mechanism (hygiene) that is designed to kill germs and infection.
• Consequently, sanitation is beyond toilets which is only the hardware part of a the mechanism which of course is important. But there are other equally important components too that should not be lost sight of.
• Hence sanitation should be promoted as an integrated programme and not in isolation.It should be very easy to link sanitation (that goes hand-in-hand with drinking water) with health, hygiene, nutrition, education, environment and livelihood that hopefully will eventually lead to poverty alleviation. As a matter of fact all the nuances of the new SDGs (especially those related to environment) can be integrated together and linked to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
• To go a step further, in order to make sure that people use the services for which Government has paid for, the PR system can play a very significant role in making people realise and act (as opposed to ‘aware’) that they are responsible for the tax payer’s money and that all the rights have accompanying responsibilities.
• The last mentioned is the real challenge – but a positive one. One simple way of doing it is to initiate a Participatory Resilience Programme – of, by and for the PRsystem, where the community can be an active member and take its own locally-relevant decision including finding ways of dealing with those who violate sanitation norms including non-use and at the same time rewarding those who make proper use of the services and set examples for others to emulate.
• Needless to say, this needs a meticulously planned and executed capacity development programme and that will be the real task ahead.
Doing few IHLs are good , it may be an entrepreneurial deeds but it wont satisfy the larger goal of ODF, one can get good income but not equally village sanitized, rather aggravates diseases thus who ever does , try to make it entire village and no one left behind

Does it soundsimple? But the challenge lies in making things simple.
Does it sound small? But small is actually big.

PradeepMohapatra
Udyama
(Where Small Is Big)
Bhubaneswar

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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  • Elisabeth
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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?

Dear all,

I am a great believer in the importance of definitions so it's good to put the Indian government's definition of open defecation free (ODF) to the test here in this discussion.

For the benefit of those who are new to this forum and just to make some linkages, I wanted to point out that we've had a similar discussion here on the forum in the past:

Definition of ODF – Open Defecation Free (Indian government publication)
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/71-beh...vernment-publication

and also here (not India specific):
ODF and Slippage - Introduction and questions for discussion
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/211-th...tions-for-discussion

I also tried to ensure there is a good definition of ODF on Wikipedia, you can find it here on the page about CLTS:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-led_tota...nitation#Definitions

(linked to from the page on open defecation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_defecation#Use_of_the_term)

I think a related important definition is the definition of manual scavenging. That's because building toilets is one thing. But what happens when the pits are full? Then they have to be emptied safely (=fecal sludge management) rather than unsafely (=manual scavenging).

We had an interesting discussion about the Indian definition of manual scavenging here on the forum, with 13 replies: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-go...of-manual-scavenging

I would like to invite all the Indian experts and practitioners of this thematic discussion to take a look at that thread as well and to make their contributions (needless to say, I've also worked on the Wikipedia page on manual scavenging, see the current version here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_scavenging)

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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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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  • 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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  • 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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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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Yes Raj, institutions are critical. Your suggestion that local institutions be made sustainable is valuable.

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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