Urban sanitation in India - Getting urban sanitation on track (new article)

  • F H Mughal
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Urban sanitation in India

Urban sanitation in India

According to the post ( www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/get.../article10049925.ece ), only about 40 per cent Indians have access to improved sanitation facilities. Though, India is a major country in South Asia, it has not fared well on sanitation front. I think, it is mainly due to the attitudes and beliefs of the people. Elsewhere, it was mentioned that the male population consider it manly to defecate in the open.

The post shows that India had a number of important interventions and programs, like: Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (2005), National Urban Sanitation Policy (2008), Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM, 2014), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT 2015), and Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Policy (2016-17). This list is impressive.

The post says that in 1981, India had launched its first policy-level intervention through an integrated, low-cost sanitation scheme to convert dry latrines to flush latrines. On development side, this is preferable, however, it would be difficult to convert pit latrines to flush latrines in rural areas. This is also the case in Pakistan, where people in rural areas, especially the poor people, predominantly use pit latrines. Water is required for flush latrines to operate, and most areas face water problems.

The post says that the traditional engineering-driven approach is not effective, and a participatory approach is needed. While this is true, the fact is that even in Pakistan, traditional engineering-driven approach is adopted. This works where people are sincere, honest, knowledgeable, and mindful of responsibilities.

The post rightly says that capacity-building and incentive-based performance are the need of the hour.

Some useful way-forward steps have been suggested. Some of the steps are:

Establish a legal framework;
Incentivise scientific management of faecal waste storage;
Devolve power to local bodies;
Education and motivation
Improve the capacity of local body officials;
Enhance institutional, financial and human resource capacities of local bodies;
Enhance capacities of civil societies and other partners;
Engage the corporate sector;
Encourage local bodies; and
Improve data collection and management system.

F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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