National WASH Conclave 2022


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Re: National WASH Conclave 2022

Unleashing the potential of Panchayati Raj Institutions to
realise the vision of Jal Jeevan Mission – Capacities and Financing

Day 1, Breakout Session
2, 17:00 - 18:30 PM
Moderator: V K Madhavan, Chief Executive, WaterAid India

Context/Problem Statement:

The Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to ensure that every household has access to safe and assured drinking water through a functional household tap connection by 2024. In other words, the new normal would be a tap available in the household and an end to fetching water from community stand-posts or other water sources. This has the potential to transform the lives of millions of women and adolescent girls – who currently face the primary burden of fetching water for their households. Success would also imply that India’s progress alone could shift the global indicators towards meeting SDG Goal 6. Historically,two problems have plagued drinking water schemes. Poor operation and maintenance and the source of water not being sustainable. Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to address both these problems. As part of the design, a central role for Village Water and Sanitation Committees – statutory committees of the Gram Panchayat has been envisaged. The desire is for Gram Panchayats and rural communities to participate in the planning, implementation, management and operation and maintenance of the drinking water schemes that will deliver water to households.

Access to water at a household level in rural India in August 2019, was 17% and is 46% as on date, as per the Jal Jeevan Mission Dashboard. There are sixteen states and Union Territories, where coverage is still less than 50% and these include some of the more populous states in the country. There are six states and Union Territories, which have reported 100% coverage and another five, with coverage between 71% and 99%. This progress reflects the provision of water at a household level. The challenges around sustainability of the source and more importantly management by rural communities and their institutions are likely to be a work in progress. 

Why PRIs are important for this issue

Over the past seven decades, the responsibility for provision of drinking water progressively became that of the ‘state’, which sought to achieve this through its line departments. Jal Jeevan Mission does not merely seek to ensure water at a household level, but also seeks to change this reality by ensuring ownership and management by Panchayats or formal or informal committees under it. This requires a significant participation by Panchayats, members of the relevant statutory committees and most importantly in all members of the Gram Sabha if this has to succeed. 

A sense of ownership has to be created amongst citizens and their institution of self-governance – the Panchayats. Experience suggests that involving communities’ right from the design and planning helps in create a sense of ownership. Their capacity to plan, manage, operate and maintain will need to be developed. Skilled personnel will need to be available to help operate and maintain these systems. Capital will be required for operation and maintenance, as well as repair and replacement of assets. In addition to investment from Jal  Jeevan Mission and contributions by State Government’s – both of which will primarily help in asset creation, improvements and expansion -  Panchayats also have funds available to them through 15th Finance Commission allocations. In all likelihood, there will need to be contributions by households to meet operational expenses as well. 

This session seeks to discuss the challenges in ensuring that Panchayats and their committees are able to plan for and manage the drinking water schemes invested in by Jal Jeevan Mission, potential solutions, and examples of what is possible.

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  • nityajacob
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    Topic Author
  • Moderator
  • Water Policy Analyst and Author; Moderator of the SuSanA India Chapter; WASH Lead at Swasti
  • Posts: 300
  • Karma: 6
  • Likes received: 133

National WASH Conclave 2022

Successes, bottlenecks, and way forward: Improving financing and spending by PRIs for fulfilling SBM-2 priorities
Date: 23 February'22
Time: 5:00-6:30 PM

Sujoy Mojumdar, WASH Specialist, UNICEF India
1) Ms. Priyanka Tiwari
2) Er. Partha Pratim Baruah
3) Mr. Ayush Prasad
4) Shri Kushwant Singh Sethi
5) Mr. Kapil Choudhary

Context/Problem Statement:
  1. Context of the topic in India. The Swachh Bharat Mission phase I implemented from 2014-2019, had a massive impact. Not only did this unique campaign provide toilet access at homes to millions of Indians, but it also brought the subject of sanitation out into public discourse. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission II, launched in 2019 and currently under implementation, the focus is on sustaining sanitation gains in terms of ODF status of communities, covering those left out, including providing toilet access in public places, repairing/retrofitting incorrectly built or defunct toilets, and promoting universal toilet use. It also provides for setting up ODF+ operations including management of Biodegradable waste (and Gobardhan), Plastic waste, Grey waste, and Faecal waste. Other important areas of concern are hygiene practices of management of menstrual waste and Handwashing with soap.
  2. Why are we talking about this? In addition to infrastructure creation, a major effort will need to be placed on ensuring effective operations and maintenance of systems and sustainability of service delivery.  These are major steps that the country is taking moving towards, targeting the goal of ‘safely managed sanitation’ under the Sustainable Development Goals 6.2.  It is also essential to ensure that the consumer in rural areas is provided with high quality and sustained sanitation services at a reasonable cost. To do all the above across over 255,000 GPs and 630,000 villages is a massive exercise and all stakeholders need to be capacitated and involved. 
  3. Why PRIs are important for this issue:  The73rd Amendment of the constitution envisages the Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayat Raj System, to perform functions and powers entrusted to it by the State Legislatures. The amendment provides for a three tier Panchayat Raj System at the village, intermediate and district levels. The eleventh schedule of the constitution created by the 73rd Amendment contains 29 subjects on which the Panchayats shall have administrative Control, and Water and sanitation are among the subjects. Thus, the role of the GPs and the Block and District panchayats are critical for the success of the sanitation programme and efforts to achieve the national goal. 
  4. Gaps, challenges, and issues: While the policy is in place, the actual participation of the PRIs has been stifled by lack of clarity in the 3Fs – Funds, Functions and Functionaries. The situation has become much better with increased state level devolutions and now the provision of financial resources under the Finance commission devolutions and other sources. In fact, the Fifteenth FC has ‘Tied’ 60% of FFC funds (About INR 3,2000 crore per year) with PRIs for water and sanitation related activities. In view of the above, there is need for an urgent discourse on the successes and the bottlenecks and intervention needs to ensure that the PRIs effectively participate and ‘own’ the sanitation programme. 
  5. What is the potential that we can gain with the involvement of PRIs? The strategic, effective, and continuous involvement of the PRIs will ensure effective operation of schemes and sustained high level quality service delivery of sanitation services to the population. This will mean that capital investment issued effectively, and in the Covid context, have an impact on the health and well-being of the population.
Session SummaryPanelists:
1.      Mr. Khushwant Singh Sethi, Joint Secretary, PRI
2.      Mr. Kapil Chaudhary, Director, SBM, Jal Shakti Ministry
3.      Mr. Parth Pratim Baruah, AEE, Assam
4.      Mr. Ayush Prasad, CEO, ZP, Pune
5.      Ms. Priyanka Tiwari, Gram Pradhan, GP Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh

Moderator: Mr. Sujoy Mojumdar, UNICEF (in coordination with SBM PMU)


1. SBM is bringing a big change to the face of rural India. Phase I (2014-2019) was a large-scale national campaign which aimed to
eliminate the problem of ODF.
2. Unique unparalleled achievement in the history of the world - More than 10 Cr HHs got HH latrine. > 500 million people pulled down
from ODF.
3. Phase II – Maintain ODF status, Repair/Retrofitment of Latrines, ensure using of facility, Provision of latrine at community level for
those who do not have access to HH latrine.
4. Phase II on 4 verticals – Bio waste, FSM, Grey wastewater, Plastic waste at every GP and village. Significant financial allocation.

1. If the Government alone implements, operates and maintains the scheme, it is difficult. Hence, it should involve Panchayats in
O&M while the government focuses on building infrastructure. Convergence between departments is needed with regard to of SBM- 2 and JJM
2. Funds and schemes for multi- villages/ GPs
3.  Plastic blocking nallahs and is one of the major reasons of waste in the area.
4. While 50% of ODF has been achieved in the villages, children have still not stopped defecating in the open.
5. Sustaining ODF and ODF Plus is a massive challenge as are solid (plastic) and liquid (grey) water management.
6. Technical support, knowledge, capacities and manpower for proper and efficient programme implementation at the panchayat level.

Key takeaways:
a) Solutions - Examples of what/where/how/who
1. GPs are slowly becoming responsible for water and sanitation with fund support from different schemes like 15th Finance Commission and SBM- 2
2. Education is critical especially for children as they are great social change agents in the communities
3. Continued exposure and reaching out to the communities, their involvement and Jan Andolans help to bring about change
4. Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is providing comprehensive capacity building programmes:
 Foundation Courses for the elected panchayat pradhans initially on the basic functions and role of PRIs and Refresher Training after 2 years for incorporating new schemes and responsibilities of the panchayats
 Also along with the Skill Development Ministry MoPR is providing training to local manpower for both water and sanitation services ensuring easy support for quick repair from local resources.
5. Keep focus on SLWM for faecal sludge management through soak pits, STPs for grey water management.

b) The way forward or what needs to be done.
1. Behaviour Change Communication needs to continue as well as Jan Andolan with people’s participation and involvement at the Panchayat level, since GP is the key centre.
2. Focus on SBM- 2 to continue, where planning needs to happen at the panchayat level. With their involvement. Village Sanitation Plan to be part of GPDP. Department officials with capacity need to extend their support to the PRIs. PRI should have detailed knowledge for ensuring ODF Plus.
3. Technical support to the Panchayats is critical for implementation with help in operation and maintenance of grey water management, solid waste management, etc. Departments at the District and Block levels need to support he GPs along with NGOs, CSOs,
Research Institutions, etc.
4. Success of SBM- 1 was because of flexibility in implementation at the village level with Jan Andolan engaging CLTS processes. Similar flexibility is needed in SBM- 2, where Collectors have to come in to extend their support and the Gram Pradhans have to take ownership of the programme. CSOs, NGOs, Institutions are all there to support in this endeavour.

c) Any specific points to be added to call to action?

1. Service Level Benchmarks included in both SBM- 2 and JJM. While more so in Urban context, need to be strengthened at the panchayat levels
2. Institutional strengthening of GPs by district and state to build capacity and awareness about all available central government provisions, guidelines, schemes, about plan preparations and implementation
3. Need to bring in professional contractors for water and sanitation services, further involve SIRDs
4. In case of disasters related to climate change, there is a need to incorporate innovations during SBM- 2 implementation in diversified geographies which have hills, plains, flood affected terrains, etc.

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