The Need of the Hour: Addressing Sanitation in India

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The need to address the situation of sanitation in India cannot be understated. Globally, every year, around 60 million children are born into homes without access to sanitation. Today, 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation. India alone with 626 million people practicing open defecation, has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined. Furthermore, India accounts for 90 per cent of the 692 million people in South Asia who practice open defecation and also accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation. [1]

These statistics are alarming and are being increasingly referenced to as the debate and dialogue around sanitation in India garners significant momentum. In particular, the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by Prime Minister Naredra Modi on October 2, 2014, has put sanitation and the drive to make India truly ‘swachh’ into the spotlight. From including sanitation into the priority sector lending fold to creating the Swachh Bharat Kosh, the government is mobilizing great efforts and resources to try and reach its target of making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2019.

This effort and political will is commendable. However, we must not lose the momentum that has been generated by the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). What is required now is to integrate the fragmented elements of the Indian sanitation space, both in terms of discussions and players. The India Sanitation Coalition (ISC) strives to do just that. By focusing on the entire value chain of Build, Use, Maintain and Treat (BUMT), the Coalition seeks to create a framework for collaboration amongst varied players, from corporate power houses to development practitioners, who are willing and able to engage in the Indian sanitation space.

From usage of toilets and water stress to the issue of fecal sludge management (FSM) and water table protection, we must use this historic opportunity to address the problem of sanitation in its entirety. Discussion and dialogue that has and can translate into constructive policy and action is happening but it is happening in silos.

The ISC blog seeks to provide a platform to all stakeholders to share, discuss and deliberate on issues relating to sanitation in India. Through this, we hope to integrate the players and discussions who are all working towards the common goal of “sanitation plus” – that is, moving beyond just the building of toilets to those that are used, maintained and where all human waste is safely treated and disposed.

Please note that while the ISC strongly believes and facilitates the exchange of dialogue and debate, all viewpoints and opinions posted on the ISC blog are that of the respective authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Coalition.

Moving forward, we are excited about the launch of this blog and look forward to some constructive and informative exchange!

 

[1]http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp2012/fast_facts/en/

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