Water, sanitation and waste | Blogs

  • What if you don’t have a toilet, build one now !

    Ananta Prasad

    November 23rd, 2015

    Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes.

    E. F. Schumacher

    The curiosity was quiet evident on the faces of hundreds of people knowing the fact that, they were being gathered to celebrate World Toilet Day. People in general do not like to talk about ‘shit’ and that has been a global challenge now. Amidst the number of popular days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Water Day and many others we celebrate one more addition is now for Toilet Day and yet people have apprehension about that.

    Yes, in a country like India where more than 50 per cent people defecate in open, talking about ‘shit’ is treated as shitty here. In such a contest there are instances and places where defecating in open is being treated as social and cultural practice. In many villages women actually get chance to mingle with themselves while they go toilet to open field at the dawn.

    Mobile-Toilets-in-IndiaBreaking the barrier of such myths, Practical Action has been advocating for better sanitation practices. In its major initiative in urban wash, in India Practical Action has started intervening in the faecal sludge management for two major urban municipalities. Newly launched Project Nirmal is targeting on a holistic approach to fight against the menace of poor sanitation practices and also exhibiting a model faecal sludge disposal mechanism in both the cities.

    So on 19 March 2015, two major events were organised on the eve of World Toilet Day in both the cities such as Angul and Dhenkanal. women SHG members, school children and civil society members joined in large numbers to mark the occasion. In Angul, the Municipality Chairperson and other council members along with the executive officer graced the occasion and shared how the importance of toilet in public life is now a much-talked topic and why it is needed to have toilets.

    Issues starting from girls and women defecating only during dark like before sunrise and after sunset leading to social security is now a concern everywhere. There are instances of molestation of young girls midnight and also instances of life loss by insects such as snakes and other insecticides.

    There have been constant health hazards such as diarrhoea and children in india are being growing stunted because of open defecation. All these things were the points of discussion while the district collector and municipal chairperson and other senior officials in Dhenkanal urged to build toilet as an essential part of daily life. Like mobiles and other necessities toilet is something which every household must have and all the guests vowed for a message of toilet for all.

    This was also added by Practical Action representative talking about the proper disposal mechanism of human excreta and faeces by setting up a proper faecal sludge management system in both the cities with the help of municipalities and efficient community participation.


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  • Planners must focus on faecal sludge management

    Ananta Prasad

    November 23rd, 2015

    With cut throat competition among Indian cities to become Smart Cities, there have been many aspects of urban planning which need to be addressed and adhered to. As per the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP 2010), India contributes to 58% of the world’s population defecating in the open. And according to census in 2011, an overwhelming 170,000 households (48.33 per cent) or 800,500 people in the slums of Odisha defecate in the open.

    A massive campaign by the Swachh Bharat Mission has, however, led the discussion on toilets for all. The State and the Central Government is also in mission mode to set the milestone for building toilets though all are silent on dealing with the output the toilets are going to produce.


    Many researchers and health and hygiene experts assert that an effective disposal mechanism for excreta is yet to be emphasised.

    “A good disposal system is a necessity. Otherwise, excreta to be released form thousands of toilets will still be in the air and create more health hazards,” according to the experts. The disposal facilities like septic tanks, dry latrines, bucket latrines and communal toilets accumulate faecal sludge, which needs to be removed periodically. If this sludge is not properly managed, negative impacts on the urban environment and on public health may result.

    According to experts, there might be environmental pollution caused by the effluent of not regularly de-sludged septic tanks or community toilets. Faecal sludge being used in unhygienic way in agriculture is another concern.

    All these problems can be avoided by a proper management of faecal sludge, which may include adequate de-sludging of sanitation facilities, safe handling and transport of sludge, treatment of sludge, and its safe disposal or reuse.

    According to a study, if one truck of sludge is exposed unsafely then it is equivalent to 5,000 people defecating in the open.

    “In this context, if we go along with the mission of toilets for all, there will be a huge scarcity of water and solid faecal sludge disposal will be the next problem we will have to face. Looking at the smart approach of our urban planners and urban development practitioners, now it is highly essential for all urban settlements to come up with the solution to deal with solid faecal sludge,” was the view of an expert.

    There have been experiments in faecal sludge treatment in many countries including Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, Argentina, Ghana and Brazil.  Even in India there have been few experiments in Bangalore. But as yet no urban local body has come up with a proper plan of action.

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  • World Toilet Day 2015: good news and bad news

    But Mummy, I CAAAAN’T WAIT – the familiar cry for anyone with children. Fortunately we live in a place where a safe, clean toilet our children can easily use, with soap and water on hand, is never far away.

    But this basic human right is not available to everyone. #wecantwait is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day on 19th November.

    BAD NEWS: The 2015 JMP report finds that 2.4 billion people are still without access to improved sanitation facilities and 946 million still defecating in the open. Schools and health centres also frequently lack these basic facilities.

    GOOD NEWS: Globally, progress has been made, and we should celebrate this. In 1990 only 61 countries had more than 90% of their population with access to improved sanitation. In 2015, there are 97 countries that have reached that milestone.

    BAD NEWS: However, in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa the situation has worsened over the last few years, as provision of sanitation has failed to keep up with population growth. There was a decline in water or sanitation coverage in urban areas in 14 out of 46 countries between 1990 and 2015. There are large inequalities in access within urban areas according to wealth, and while in many countries, the gap is closing, that is only happening slowly.

    We know this matters because the health burden of poor sanitation in urban areas can be particularly acute. It has been linked to child malnutrition and stunting as a result of recurrent bouts of diarrhoea. The difficulties for women to find a safe, dignified place to use a toilet and in particular to deal hygienically and discretely with menstruation are often enormous.

    GOOD Beautiful toiletNEWS: is that governments and donors have been trying to catalyse change, and put more focus on sanitation. The Sanitation and Water for All partnership brings together over 90 country governments, external support agencies, civil society organisations and others to catalyse political leadership and action. The last set was agreed in April 2014, with commitments made by 43 countries and 12 donors.

    Many of the country commitments were about strengthening the enabling environment, and so did not focus on particular targets or segments of the population. On the other hand, countries were encouraged to focus in particular on reducing inequalities and improving sustainability. In three-quarters of country overarching visions there was a recognition of the elimination of socio-economic or geographic inequalities, and 27 countries made a total of 58 commitments to eliminating inequalities.

    BAD NEWS: However there were still only 34 commitments (11%) which mentioned the word ‘urban’ and only 6 (2%) which made specific reference to poor urban communities or urban inequalities. One commitment referred to tackling faecal sludge management which is a key part of the urban sanitation challenge.

    In September this year, the global community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6 tackles water, sanitation and hygiene, and within that Target 6.2 is about sanitation:

    Target 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

    To be measured as: Percentage of population using safely managed sanitation services

    Which means: Population using a basic sanitation facility (current JMP categories for improved sanitation) which is not shared with other households and where excreta is safely disposed in situ or transported to a designated place for safe disposal or treatment

    This goal is ambitious. We have a long way to go in achieving even basic sanitation for all, and only 15 years to achieve it. At the next high level meeting of SWA in April 2016, we would love to see more commitments with a specific focus on the urban poor, and on the safe disposal, transportation and treatment of excreta.

    Practical Action has been working on these issues on the ground for a number of years, and has decades of experience of working with the urban poor in Africa and Asia. We have exciting work on faecal sludge management in particular with urban poor communities in South Asia. We are committed to sharing our learning ensuring a wider adoption. Based on this experience we are calling for:

    • The SDGs, to measure and prioritise access to basic sanitation for all, while in urban slums in particular, work towards safely managed sanitation which will actually lead to improved health.
    • Data disaggregation which helps us understand the global progress (or lack of it) on sanitation for the urban poor – welcoming the work already done on this by JMP
    • More countries and donors to make commitments specifically for the urban poor in the next round of Sanitation and Water for All and at the South Asian Conference on sanitation in January 2016.
    • More and better quality engagement with civil society organisations in sanitation planning at national and local levels
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  • Global Handwashing Day in Nakuru

    Peter Murigi

    Nakuru, Kenya, Nakuru | October 20th, 2015

    Bondeni Primary School in Nakuru County became a haven for pomp and colour on 15 October as it hosted over 5,000 people – a majority of them school children- to commemorate the Global Handwashing Day.

    Themed “Raise a hand for hygiene,” the 2015 Global Hand Washing Day Celebrations reached out to students from 10 primary schools and thousands of people living in densely populated Bondeni informal settlements in Nakuru County. The 2015 celebrations aimed at fostering a global culture of handwashing and raising awareness about benefits of handwashing with soap was organised by the County Department of Health in partnership with more than 10 organisations that included Practical Action.

    Educating the public

    The celebrations started with participating school children, Nakuru County Government officials and stakeholders congregating at Afraha Stadium followed by a procession of 2,000 people through the Bondeni informal settlement spreading messages of proper sanitation to the locals.

    The procession, led by the Nakuru Brass Band, made several stop overs within the informal settlements to educate the public on the benefits of handwashing with soap as a preventive mechanism to diseases.

    Procession in Nakuru, Kenya,  on Global Handwashing Day to raise awareness of the  importance of handwashing.

    The handwashing procession passing thorough Bondeni informal settlements in Nakuru

    Speaking during the celebrations, Dr. Joseph Lenai, Nakuru County Public Health and Sanitation Director, called for all hotel operators in Nakuru to have handwashing facilities in their hotels. “We also urge all proprietors of public eateries, schools, government institutions and health facilities to put in place mechanisms geared towards promoting handwashing with soap,” he said.

    Lenai also urged headteachers in the area to further educate students on the importance of handwashing, adding that diarrhoea disease is one of the leading causes of child mortality:

    “Here in Kenya, diarrhoea disease and acute respiratory infections are among the leading causes of child mortality with about 16% of child mortality in the country attributed to diarrhoea and 20% to pneumonia,” he said. “Handwashing with soap can reverse this trend. Handwashing with soap is a self-administered vaccine against diarrhoea and pneumonia.”

    Transforming handwashing into a culture

    He said the County Government of Nakuru has rolled out an inter-agency partnership programme comprising of government, private sector and the civil society to promote hygienic standards in the region. “Our county government has put together a partnership comprising Department of Health and relevant departments which include: Education, Water and Environment, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to embark on the process of transforming handwashing with soap into a culture. We want to raise awareness among our people that that the simple act of regular washing hands with soap could save more lives than any medical intervention, preventing the spread of infection and keeping children in school,” Lenai said.

    Lenai further appealed to the media to educate the public on the benefits of handwashing.

    Reducing school illness

    Speaking during the celebrations, Janet Ochieng’, Nakuru County Deputy Director of Education emphasised the need for sanitation in schools, noting that handwashing facilities in schools would reduce the number of days children spend out of school due to illness.

    During the celebrations, all children were taught how to effectively wash their hands with soap, with five students from each school participating in a handwashing competition. The day also included drama and songs from schools and sponsors with demonstrations on the dangers of improper hygiene dominating the performances.

    Dr. Lenai and dignitaries also participated in a handwashing demonstration to teach county staff and teachers on how to effectively wash away germs from their hands using soap.

    Children from participating schools take part in a handwashing competition during the Global Handwashing Day celebrations in Nakuru, Kenya

    Children from participating schools take part in a handwashing competition during the Global Handwashing Day celebrations in Nakuru, Kenya

    The World Health Organisation states:

    “Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death among children under five. Diarrhoea causes nearly one in five deaths of children under five, resulting in 760,000 deaths each year. A large majority of these deaths are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Treating and safely storing drinking water, hand washing, and exclusively breastfeeding young children can prevent diarrhoeal disease.”

    Global Handwashing Day is a campaign to encourage people globally to improve their handwashing habits by washing their hands using soap, especially at critical moments like after visiting the toilet. The campaign aims at decreasing disease spread through proper handwashing and raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.

    Under the banner of Raise a Hand for Hygiene, we are looking to:Raise a hand 2015

    • Raise awareness of the newly passed SDG commitment to hygiene, but also advocate for a dedicated indicator to measure this component
    • Ensure greater funding for hygiene behaviour change and handwashing infrastructure as part of national WASH or health budgets (the GLAAS report in 2014 found that countries are spending less than 1% of their WASH budget on hygiene promotion)
    • At Practical Action we are particularly concerned about the significant health risks that the urban poor face as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, leading to health outcomes which are often worse for slum dwellers than rural populations. More needs to be done to address their needs in ways which are adapted to the conditions they face.
    • Motivate local champions to carry the messages of hygiene and handwashing throughout the year
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  • Global Handwashing Day 2015: Raise a hand for hygiene

    ‘Have you washed your hands?’ – a phrase that’s part of the repertoire of every parent’s cracked record soundtrack that includes other phrases such as ‘Come on!’ and ‘please stop poking your brother’…

    GHD_signat_lockup1This week however, that global chorus gets amplified with multiple events in villages, towns and schools all over the world as people celebrate Global Handwashing Day on 15th October.

    Practical Action will be leading celebrations or taking part in them in at least four countries across Asia and Africa, with the involvement of hundreds of thousands of people. These are wonderful, colourful events often with drama, and song, and of course some speeches – geared in the first place to getting the simple message across about the life-saving importance of washing hands at critical moments. The photo below is from the national event in Dhaka Bangladesh last year.

    Global Handwashing Day celebrations in Dhaka in 2014

    We know that this is particularly important for the urban poor where the density of population, atrocious sanitation and drainage conditions and irregular and sometimes unsafe water supplies pose high health risks. We often find that health indicators such as rates of diarrhoea, mortality rates for children under 5, and stunting (related to poor sanitation) are all higher in urban slums than the average for rural areas. A review of all randomised trials published earlier this year confirms that handwashing can prevent around 30% of diarrhoea episodes.

    However, this year the event takes on added significance as a result of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Under the previous Millennium Development Goals there was no mention at all of hygiene, and the WASH community has worked hard to ensure it is now included. Under Goal 6 to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, target 6.2 is for ‘adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all’. Although this inclusion is encouraging, the gains could be lost if the target cannot be measured. Currently the proposals for indicators only include a measure of sanitation and not of hygiene.

    Organisers of Global Handwashing Day events around the world are therefore seeking to convey messages not only to participants, but to politicians. Under the banner of Raise a Hand for Hygiene we are looking toRaise a hand 2015

    • Raise awareness of the newly passed SDG commitment to hygiene, but also advocate for a dedicated indicator to measure this component
    • Ensure greater funding for hygiene behaviour change and handwashing infrastructure as part of national WASH or health budgets (the GLAAS report in 2014 found that countries are spending less than 1% of their WASH budget on hygiene promotion)
    • At Practical Action we are particularly concerned about the significant health risks that the urban poor face as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, leading to health outcomes which are often worse for slum dwellers than rural populations. More needs to be done to address their needs in ways which are adapted to the conditions they face.
    • Motivate local champions to carry the messages of hygiene and handwashing throughout the year
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  • World Habitat Day: Why public spaces matter for the urban poor

    This week the world marked World Habitat Day under the theme of Public Spaces for All. The day celebrates the importance of the world’s cities and human settlements to our global economy and well-being.World-Habitat-Day

    The day has added significance this year because, for the first time, the role of cities and human settlements has been recognised as a key driver of development. It has been included as Goal 11 of the newly passed ‘Sustainable Development Goals’.

    Practical Action was part of the campaign to ensure this goal was included because the towns and cities of the developing world will be where almost all population growth will be concentrated in the next 50 years. Having a dedicated goal around it ensures a focus on cities and local authorities (not just national governments) as vital to creating a sustainable future. It should also help address one of the world’s most glaring aspects of inequality, that found between the rich and poor within cities.

    Practical Action has worked for nearly 20 years on improving the lives of slum dwellers. Our current 5-year strategy has seen us ramp up our commitment, planning to double the proportion of our project work that focuses on the urban poor. This would bring it closer in line with the proportion of the world’s poor that now live in cities (around 25%).Faridpur slum pathway

    We support this year’s focus on public spaces because we’ve seen how important they are in the lives of poor people. This is not just about space for leisure. It is critical to people’s livelihoods:

    The battle for sustainable development will be won and lost in cities. Public open space is a vital resource for the poor, and a key part of how cities can either be made more or less friendly to the needs of the poor. Let’s celebrate the public open spaces we love and recognise they are not a luxury, but a vital part of many people’s lives.

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  • New SDG on WASH is great, but 3 things to watch for

    Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed in 2000, the profile and importance of access to an ‘improved’ source of drinking water and sanitation has risen. A landmark was achieved in 2010 with the passing of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Ending open defecation has become a key topic for UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson. Many governments have set themselves challenging commitments and targets. And as part of the set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted this week (good summary from The Guardian here), universal access to a higher standard of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been included as a full goal (not a sub-target as previously in the MDGs).

    The SDGs aim to be ambitious. Aspirational. And in they certainly are for WASH. Goal 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Not only are we now aiming for universal access, but we have raised the bar higher in terms of quality too (Target 6.1 is for ‘safe and affordable drinking water’ and Target 6.2 is for ‘adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all’ measured as the population using ‘safely managed’ services).

    Collecting water from a protected spring, in Kisumu, Kenya. This counts as an 'improved water source', but could still be contaminated.

    Collecting water from a protected spring, in Kisumu, Kenya. This counts as an ‘improved water source’, but could still be contaminated.

    Are we likely to be able to rise to the challenge? The MDG has certainly helped increase pressure for action (as Simon Trace reflects), and the world met the MDG target for water in 2010 (88% of people with access to an improved source of drinking water) – we are now at 91% coverage according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme. And yet it is estimated that globally at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces, and in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the situation has deteriorated. On sanitation, the world has missed its MDG target of 77% coverage by almost 700 million. There are still a billion open-defecators and 2.4 billion without access to an improved (never mind a ‘safely managed’) toilet. Hygiene was not part of the MDGs and its inclusion now is welcome, and yet countries are spending less than 1% of their WASH budget on hygiene promotion.

    Practical Action works in particular on the WASH needs of poor urban communities. Once the SDGs have been signed, what are the three big things we will be keeping a close eye on as the international community and national governments start to think about how the goals can be implemented:

    1. Who is prioritised? There is concern being voiced about whether the push for a higher quality of WASH access will draw resources away from the needs of the poorest who are without even a basic level of access. The JMP is committed to continuing to monitor both ‘improved’ and ‘safely managed’ access – but will this provide enough incentive? Will governments choose ‘safely managed’ for the few over ‘improved’ access for all? Will the poorest, including slum dwellers, continue to be left behind?
    2. The right technologies and approaches? Will the push for ‘safely managed’ sanitation encourage governments towards high-cost sewerage and treatment plants that are beyond the means of poor communities and fail to deal with the reality of existing on-site sanitation systems (as highlighted by the 2014 GLAAS report)? These kinds of investments divert funds from where it is most needed, and do not reach poor communities.
    3. Holding governments to account. Duncan Green is concerned that the SDG debate has been too technocratic, and not enough about getting traction with national governments. We know that if something is not measured, it will continue to be ignored, so we are part of the call for a dedicated hygiene indicator under the WASH goal. We also know it remains challenging to properly represent the situation for slum dwellers compared to the rest of the city. We will keep asking for this data, and comparing our own findings with official figures. As part of coalitions at national and global levels we will be part of holding governments to account for the commitments they have made, through for example Sanitation and Water for All.

    Overall, the SDGs offer an ambitious vision for the future. If they are going to be worth something, we will all need to rise to the challenge, making sure that no-one is left behind.

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  • They came, they saw and they conquered

    Ananta Prasad

    September 15th, 2015

    “…we tend to think of development, not in terms of evolution, but in terms of creation.”

    E. F. Schumacher

    Three slums, three women and their amazing work has made them agents of change. Yes, we are talking about our very own Bhubaneswar and the untold stories of three women whose efforts have made lives better and easier for the whole community.

    Coming under ward number 22 of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, this slum had some serious problems. Most of the male residents, who work as daily wage workers and females work as servants in nearby smarter areas, used to face the common problem of defecating in the open every single day. When it comes to women and young girls avoiding male eyes was the most awkward task and they struggled every morning to find a space. They had to go either before sunrise or after sunset to hide in order to defecate. It was a matter of shame till the women group got united and fought for a solution.


    Community Toilet in Birsa Munda Slum, Bhubaneswar

    The local sanitation group led by Ms Ranjulata Mohapatra, united the women in the community and despite many hurdles they mobilised around 26,000 and gathered more support from organisations like Practical Action and European Commission and built a community toilet with facilities for both men and women. For more than two years those toilets have served their communities. Looking at this gesture the local authority also constructed another community toilet at a nearby community which is also serving the people.

    Talking about the management of the toilet, Ranjulata adds, “We have a sanitation committee which takes care of the daily operation of the toilet. Every family has been given two duplicate keys (one for male and one for female members) and any point of time anyone from our community can use the toilet using their keys. We are collecting 20 rupees per house per month from each of the families. The collected amount covers our expenses for electricity, fees for the regular cleaner, other maintenance and rest we keep for contingencies. The toilet is connected with piped water which lessens the burden on people to carry buckets of water. Hence, it has been of immense help for women, child and senior citizens of the community. We are aware of other slums who are still defecating in open, but all it needs is strong determination and cooperation to make life easier which we did and we are thankful before Practical Action, who supported us financially as well as advocating our fight for a respectful life.” It is noted that this project was a collaboration of Practical Action and European Commission who provided the financial assistance for the developmental works.

    Similarly, in a slum like Dumduma Satya Nagar, a highly populated area with few individual toilets, it was saddening that people were not using the existing community toilet and were still defecating in open. With much persuasion the local women from Amar Sanchaya Samiti have taken a lead and now successfully run the community toilet which is serving hundreds of people every morning. It is noted, that the community toilet has been there for the last 6 years, but it was defunct and unused for a considerable period. Since they have taken charge, they have made their best efforts to run it for the people. However, it has also been self-sustaining by meeting its regular needs as in electricity and cleaner fees as well as the regular maintainance.


    Members of Amar Sanchaya Samiti who takes care of the Community Toilet in Dumduma Satya Nagar.

    Two women of the 14 member sanitation group take care of the regular opening of the toilet and collection of users’ fee 4 rupees per person and this happens on rotation basis. Every two months new members take charge. Every day they deposit the collected amount and reinvest the same by giving loans to members which generate interest and additional return for the group. However, they admit that still people are defecating in open, but they are continuing their efforts to mobilise them by letting them know the perils of open defecation. This community toilet was tranformed in management and operation under the guidance of Practical Action who has set up a solar panel to light the toilet and basic support to revamp the defunct one with social mobilisation.

    Another group of women under the banner of slum committee led by a community leader Swayamprabha Sahoo in Satya Kali Slum who has been an agent of change by bringing safe drinking water to the doorstep. She has lessened the burden of many women from fetching water from a distance and using water from well for cooking.


    Swayamprabha Sahoo, whose efforts brought drinking water for the people of Satya Kali Slum.

    Located centrally in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, the people of Satyakali Basti live in the shadow of urbanization. The slum had 13 personal wells and one stand post provided by the Municipal Corporation for water supply. Now with the installation of two overhead tanks being run by the motor boring which runs through electricity, there are 30 stand posts catering to around 300 houses.

    Practical Action in collaboration with the European Commission has supported the community to build these water points. When inaugurated, there were only 21 stand posts which now the community have installed 9 more with their own efforts and resources.

    While remembering the past, Swayamprabha says, we used to depend on wells mostly for the water, and we have water at our doorstep now. They have formed a committee ‘Satyakali Sangathana’ and collect 20 rupees per household per month. The committee collects the amount and takes care of the proper running of the water system. Apart from the caretaker’s salary and electricity bill and regular maintenance, the committee also saved money from the users’ fee to spend in other developmental activities.

    There are difficulties to live in such unhealthy living conditions in a slum; however, one may see the  glimpse of smile in the sparkling faces of the residents as a talk on the issue of drinking water or open defecation, they have been a winner in their own struggles. They came, they saw their problems and they conquered them.

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  • A day in the life of Tillotama and Rabinarayana

    Ananta Prasad

    September 2nd, 2015

    By Ananta Prasad & Warwick Franklin

    Yesterday we visited two communities who will be included under a new water and sanitation project in Odisha, India. Leaving the hotel at 4.30am(!), we first arrived at Gurujang Jabardastpur in Khurda Municipality while it was still dark. Everyone was still asleep and the silence was deafening. The only noise being the barking of the semi wild dogs that patrolled the single street.

    Rabi Narayan & Tillotama Sahu Our first impression was of a few old people walking down the street with small pots carrying water. As we followed them, we could see a number of men defecating in the nearby field.

    Gradually as the sun came up, families awoke, began to light their indoor cooking stoves, wash off the dishes at the open wells and go to the field which they used as their toilets.

    We were invited to spend the morning with Mr & Mrs Rabi Narayan Sahu and Tillotama Sahu, and their young daughter (16) and son (7).  They were happy for us to film and photograph their daily routine.

    They showed us the well that they shared with five other families for all their household needs such as cooking, cleaning and drinking, and told us of having to go to a plot of land behind the house which was used as a toilet. Mrs Sahu explained that she and her daughter only went there in the early morning and evening to avoid male eyes. However, this brought with it the danger of snakes (particularly deadly cobras) and insects. They have to collect 35-40 bucket loads of water a day for the household.

    We saw the son leave for school and the daughter (who finished school last year, because they could not afford her education) begin to clean the house and prepare their food on a smoky clay stove, which filled our eyes and throats with choking fumes.

    Mrs Sahu working on her loom

    Mrs Sahu then explained her weaving work on a hand loom. Mr Sahu was then preparing to leave in search of work as a daily labourer.  She could earn 80p from making a saree  (5 hour’s work) while he could earn £3 per day for 8-10 hours physically exhausting toil. However, there was no guarantee of his getting such work.

    Mr Sahu explained that they had no savings and they spent what little they earned on food, electricity (a few light bulbs, two fans and a TV), medicines and the education costs for his son.

    Mrs Sahu and her husband looked forward to escaping from the shame of open defecation and the availability of clean water.

    We all felt a privilege to have been able to share a few hours with this family and look forward to their being part of the new project and enjoying a significant improvement to their daily lives.

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  • What the increasing use of desalination means for the world

    Jonny Casey

    August 25th, 2015

    Hundreds of new desalination plants are cropping up across the globe to meet the growing needs for water – estimated to be increasing by an astonishing 640bn liters per year. But as the world looks towards technology to solve the growing crisis of fresh water access, what does this mean for people and our planet? (more…)

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