From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

  • andreshuesoWA
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

I agree with many of the points highlighted in this debate, and wanted to contribute with this really good resource, a ground-truthing exercise using immersions that was conducted by Praxis India (with IDS and WaterAid) and that gives very interesting insights of the realities at the village level. It includes a policy and practice note with practical ideas going forward: www.communityledtotalsanitation.org/reso...n-immersive-research

Thanks,

Andrés Hueso
WaterAid
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Andrés Hueso
Senior Policy Analyst – Sanitation
WaterAid

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  • nityajacob
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Hi Aprajita,

The choke points PSI has found are all valid. Sometimes they occur in isolation, sometimes together. The impact is different in both cases but is highly context specific. I'll try to comment individually below.
Incremental increases in SBMG allocations. This year's budget allotted substantially more to SBMG than the previous years' budgets. The Ministry also tried to rationalise disbursements so states and districts could plan their programmes better. They were also asked for high priority districts that were targetted for making ODF last year, followed by more this year. The planning process till 2016-17 was to incrementally increase the number of toilets to be made in a district without a clear goal in mind, such as becoming ODF by a definite date. That seems to have changed somewhat to achieve ODF by a particular date. Planning is not commensurate though in terms of number of toilets and the funds needed. This still remains incremental rather than transformative. Another issue is SBMG funds on the ground have remained stuck to the Rs 12000 subsidy for more than three years. The feedback is this is not enough to make a usable toilet, to which the riposte at all levels is this is a subsidy and not the cost of a toilet, meant to reward those who make toilets. More than the amount, the concern is with the mode of payment. This happens in 1-2 installments with the second one at completion. Instead, to ensure usage the second installment should be paid six months after completion on verification of usage by all family members regularly. There are also concerns over how it is paid as some states have made the community (or ward) the unit of ODF before the subsidy is released to anybody. Planning to become ODF by a realistic, non-political deadline in a way that recognizes the time needed to effect behaviour change would address some of these problems.

Supply chains. This may be fragmented in some parts of India but in many places I have not found this to be a problem. The more proactive district governments have worked around this by negotiating in bulk with suppliers and ensuring they have stockpiles of material at the start of the year. The other critical gap has been in shortage of trained masons who know how to make twin leach pit toilets instead of only septic tanks. I have found responses to this have been knee jerk, such as getting masons from neighbouring districts. Their skills are doubtful even though they go through the mandatory 3 or 5 training. Here I would like to say these masons need training to make septic tanks, not subterranean chambers. The tanks I have seen would not meet norms for regular septic tanks since the lack baffle walls and the inlet pipes are not properly located. Their size has less to do with the effluent quantity and more with the perception that they should never fill up.

Missing incentives for market behaviour. I am assuming this means sanitation is not seen as a business venture. This seems to come from the standpoint that the government must provide all benefits for all. Rather than taking ownership of SBM, panchayats are happy to be passive implementers. District governments are complicit in this by taking the onus of planning and implementation. Targets and timelines are determined at the district level and communicated to panchayats. In a few rare cases sarpanchs come forward to take the lead but are completely dependent on district and block officials for executing the work. They are in effect glorified BCC agents who work in the time and space between trained motivators and the subsidy pay-outs. Some of the smarter sarpanchs have taken it on as a business even though SBM has discouraged contractor-led construction. I think the issue is how to balance sanitation markets with individual action where people make their own toilets but there is enough to encourage local sanitation entrepreneurs.

The last point. I think this means SBMG should create an enabling environment. The problem with this is insufficient and improper use of IEC funds. There is too much emphasis on mass media advertising and not enough on using this money for inter personal communication or other grassroots activities. To create and sustain demand more of the latter is needed especially as there are no permanent sanitation staff at the grassroots unlike in health or education. One solution could be to pay village cleaners from IEC funds and have them speak about sanitation constantly everyday when they are work, reach out to households to make and use toilets, and focus on SLWM. If there is demand, the market will follow. I am not sure the state should get into creating supply chains as it is inefficient and susceptible to pulls and pressures, as well as rent-seeking. This is best left to entrepreneurs and the creators of demand.

To be a strategic steward, SBMG would need to reinvent itself as a framework for action rather than a subsidy-led programme. The funds alloted for toilet construction should be directed towards creating demand and ensuring compliance or use of toilets. They can be used judiciously to support the really poor to make toilets. SBMG also needs to be more flexible in the type of toilets it prescribes since the 1 sq m 7" high toilets that are uniformly rolled out are not the most user-friendly. Including bathrooms or letting people choose the super- and sub-structures can help. However, in their haste to meet targets local administrations ignore the social aspects and instead, focus only on getting the numbers. A multi-year or long term view will also help to position SBMG as a steward.

Regards
Nitya
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Interesting discussion. I have been meaning to write a longer contribution, but can't find the time. So this quick rhetorical question will have to do.

I think one issue related to an enabling environment is how well the government (at all levels) holds up "their end of the deal". By which I mean, how well is sewage treatment, pit emptying, FSM, etc. organized? If we can't get that together, and if our rivers are open sewers, how are we going to convince the population that toilets are important?

Regards

Marijn

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  • Thakur
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

A powerful point raised demanding adequate attention while talking about targets of .....number of toilets.

Thakur
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  • DavidAlan
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

In my experience there are several things that delay rural sanitation progress. Not all of which people will agree.

1. The change in allowing subsidies to be paid directly to the home owner has virtually stopped our household construction programme. Now we have to try and get the subsidy from the HO and that is not easy, so we basically stopped our programme focusing on schools and urban community units (CBS) instead.
2. Lack of knowledge by officials about the sanitation options available, meaning UDDTs are not encouraged.
3. Lack of interest by officials not wanting to help rural people.
4. Misreporting.
5. Corruption.
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  • nityajacob
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Hi Marijn
There is partial compliance from the government on all aspects, from sanctioning toilets to payment of incentives. In this mixed scenario how much can a market incentive-based approach work? The subsidy is released late that is a major bottleneck for beneficiaries and in turn, any sanitation market. Supply chains exist but are cautious because of the unreliability of the payment. People are so well aware of the Rs 12000 subsidy that they are unwilling to make toilets unless they get the money.

In urban sanitation, subsidy was introduced recently in 2015 (I think). State governments and municipalities have added their own components of subsidy to make the overall amount quite substantial, exceeding rural subsidies in some cases. But this again has had a perverse effect. Downstream considerations of collection, pit emptying, sewage treatment, etc., have not been adequately addressed by governments.

Thus, putting the onus on people and markets will not work in isolation but have to be part of a larger better coordinated approach.
Regards
Nitya
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Dear Nitya,

Thanks for the very succinct description of the issues with a subsidy driven approach. Especially the late disbursement to private sector entrepreneurs (who are often in effect implementing partners of the Govt) and the way people postpone building a toilet until they “are in line” for subsidy sound very familiar from other sectors. As do the opportunities for rent seeking highlighted by some of the other contributors. On the other hand, in a country with such income disparity and the kind of poverty that India has, I am also hesitant to advocate for a “zero-subsidy approach”. Where and how to find a workable compromise? Not easy.

It seems to me that the Swatch Bharat mission set its goals very high. While it is good to be ambitious, you can also set yourself up for failure if you are too ambitious. In my view, reaching (close to) pukka 100% coverage is going to be a generational project (20 years). Changing the mindset of a population will take time, and we need to change the mindset if we are going to escape the “subsidy trap”.

In the same vein, as my post above tried to suggest, there seems to be a bit of a cart before the horse situation. Perhaps, a good lesson (also for other countries) is that building toilets and worrying about conveyance and treatment later is the wrong way round. Final disposal should come first in the system set-up.

A lot of problems, not many solutions. However, to all those that are doing good and hard work in India and elsewhere. Merry Christmas (or holiday of your preference) and keep up the good work. We will get there someday!

Marijn Zandee

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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Dear Co ordinator.

We need to look at as to how outputs from remedial processes are re used.eg water and sludges.

Let us first take re use water. There is a dire need of water at most water deficient regions. If this is achieved, then a major hurdle is crossed.
Next is to duly evolve methods and practices for re use of bio-sludges. Co composting with green matter and cow-dung to make usable compost/ manure for agri farms.

Then it leaves as to how toilets are made in rurals. Affordability of space and resources to make infrastructure ie toilets.reception facility.flush and drain water lines etc. Here due to constraints.we find it difficult to go on to next steps.

Hence Controlled Open Defecation mode is suggested till the space & resources are available. The practice to follow is have a set of 2 spaces where OD is done and alternated monthly. And area not in use is cleaned and maintained and bio sldgs re used.
When this practice has been ongoing for a period of time and if water, power resources are available, then toilets can be made and maitained.

For all the above communities need to diligently O&M practices. This is to be religiously abided ! O&M- describes Operational and Maintainance principles and practices.
Offering well wishes and the best goings in the ensuing year in 2018.
Prof.Ajit Seshadri.
School of Maritime Studies.
Vels University.Chennai.India.
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  • AjitSeshadri
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Dear Members.
It is a great task to achieve ODF. However we can suggest to extend dead line allocated to effectively implement ODF.
Go step by step. Let us have communities go for CDF ie controlled Open Defecation having 2 spaces allocated for ODF.each alternated monthly. One in use & other in cleanup and maintainance . All bio sludges co composted to manure for agri farm uses.
When this practice is progressed and communities get used to the change depending on availability of funds etc. Toilets may be made and project progressed
Well wishes. AJIT SESHADRI.
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  • aprajitasingh
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Dear All,
Thanks for a great discussion. I think the different perspectives really brought about that the issue is complex. In that respect, the SBM needs to be hailed for the vision and the scale at which it 'aims' to address the challenge. I agree that some of the early insights on 'where it is failing' would be helpful. For example, the WATER AID immersion study is a great example of that and needs to be taken in account for some early reflections to course correct. The issues of environment pollution and reuse are also critical for long term sustainability and merit attention. Although, this issue of environmental sustainability has been incorporated in the SBM through its twin pit product design which is seen to close the loop on fecal contamination in rural areas. The PSI study also compares and contrasts between experiences from different states and showcases how local context and will result in better results in the state of MP versus a Bihar or UP. Additionally, the analysis shares some key findings on how even in a best case scenario- in the absence of the right incentives for all the players in the sanitation value chain, we may fall short of meeting the target. We hope to have the summary draft ready for dissemination in January and I look forward to sharing with all of you and getting your comments.
wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season...
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  • depinder
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Re: From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

What is new that we know about resistance of people building and using toilets in rural India?

Please also check the immersion study approach we followed in 2015 for a similar study on sanitation behaviour change by India WASH Forum.

indiawashforum.com/wp-content/uploads/20...ve-Research-2016.pdf

Depinder Kapur is a senior Development and WASH expert and is currently leading the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform of National Institute of Urban Affairs in New Delhi. He has worked with AKRSP, SPWD, CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator). Also has 5 years of work experience as a consultant with UNICEF, FAO, WSSCC, FES and World Bank. Principal Trustee of India WASH Forum and part of a Citizens Initiative on Right to Water and Sanitation. Also worked with Ministry of Urban Development for the Clean India...
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Synthesis Document for Thematic Discussion on From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress?

Dear members,

In December 2017, we conducted a thematic discussion on From missing market incentives to misaligned incentives What is choking India’s rural sanitation progress? This was led by Aprajita Singh, Senior Specialist ‐ Advocacy and Knowledge Management, with Population Services International. The discussion received 22 responses and 2859 views over three weeks. I would like to thank you all for taking your time to read and respond.

The synthesis document is now available at the following link: www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/resource...library/details/2924 . I hope you will this useful.

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Regards
Nitya Jacob
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SuSanA India Chapter

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