Sanitation and Hygiene in South Asia - India Country Report is a publication of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA). The report, prepared based on extensive discussions with individuals from marginalised groups (adolescents, women, elderly people, persons with disabilities, sanitation workers, rag pickers and transgender people), details the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related challenges faced by these marginalised groups. The states included in the consultative process were: Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Across all the consultations, it was found that the majority of participants resorted to open defecation because of the lack of suitable toilets. Men and children expressed a preference for open defecation and said they only used toilets during an emergency or when they couldn’t go out. Private bathing facilities were not available for the majority, and most built makeshift tents or bathed in a river or a pond, that was also used for washing clothes. While women and adolescent girls revealed that they ranked a toilet as an urgent and important need, males said it was not a priority. Because women have so little voice in decision-making, they are unable to influence their menfolk and ensure that their own needs are met.
WASH facilities in schools, workplaces, market spaces and public areas are poorly maintained, tend to be dirty and can be unsafe. Generally, there is neither soap, nor water available for handwashing. The problems of women and adolescent girls are exacerbated when they are menstruating, because there are no facilities for changing and disposing sanitary materials safely.
Elderly persons and disabled groups said that they experienced extreme difficulties in using the existing toilets because the infrastructure has not been designed with their needs in mind. They said that the designs of the existing facilities reflect a complete lack of understanding of their needs, not only by service providers, but at times even by their own family members.
Measures taken so far to protect sanitation workers and waste pickers, and to accord the transgender communities with their basic human rights, have been largely inadequate and ineffective.
Sanitation workers, mostly from the Dalit community, work in very unhygienic conditions and run the risk of infection and injury because they are not provided with protective gear and have no access to handwashing facilities at work. Financial and job security remain elusive goals. The prevalence of stigma, prejudice and discrimination serves to enhance the vulnerability and marginalisation of both the transgender community and the sanitation workforce.
Key aspirations of the marginalised
- Safe, clean and accessible WASH facilities in educational and public institutions with adequate facilities for washing, changing, drying or disposing of soiled sanitary materials for menstruating women and girls.
- Safe and clean WASH facilities at home and in public institutions, including schools, which can be easily accessed by the elderly and persons with disabilities by introducing simple adjustments, such as wide doors, ramps, handle bars for support, good lighting, commodes and slip-resistant floors.
- Inclusion in decision-making processes related to planning, designing and managing of these facilities to ensure that the specific needs of each group are met.
- Information and education on menstrual hygiene management for adolescent girls and availability of privacy, water, soap and sanitary napkins at schools and colleges.
- Medical, life and accident insurance for sanitation workers and waste collectors.
- Job security and equal pay for workers employed by the government and private contractors. Recognition of the critical role played by informal waste collectors in keeping the environment clean, and their right to sell the waste collected by them at a fair price.
- Provision of safety equipment, protective gear, and WASH facilities at landfills and waste segregation points, for sanitation workers and waste collectors.
- An educated public that disposes different kinds of waste safely.
- Sensitization of the general public, as well as, governments to reduce stigma and discrimination against sanitation workers and the transgender community
- Inclusion of the voices of marginalised communities in planning and decision-making bodies at all levels, so that they inform the design, operation and maintenance of WASH facilities. The participation of women, adolescents, persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups must be institutionalized at all levels. They must be represented on village health committees, the village water and sanitation committees, the school management committees and other decision-making fora. Additionally, the capacities of these bodies must be developed so that they are active and can play their role effectively.
- Acceleration of policy initiatives, especially for the elderly and persons with disabilities by integrating disability-specific solutions. Dissemination of handbook on toilet designs released by the Government of India in 2015 to the functionaries of district and block level institutions, including Collectors, CEO Zila Panchayats and Block Development Officers involved in construction of WASH facilities.
- Training of masons so they can offer persons with disabilities appropriate, cost-effective toilet designs that meet their specific needs.
- Dissemination and implementation of the Government of India’s National Guidelines on Menstrual Hygiene Management 2015 to all educational and public institutions.
- Legislation to ensure the personal safety and financial security of sanitation workers.
- CSO and media campaigns to highlight the sanitation needs of marginalised groups and to bring any violation of their sanitation rights to the notice of duty bearers.
- Sensitize the public and government on issues of the transgender community and sanitation workforce to reduce stigma and discrimination.
- Collective behavior change campaigns focusing on building awareness on hygiene and sanitation and the right to sanitation to ensure adoption of hygienic sanitation practices by individuals and communities
Source and Full report : Leave No one behind - Voices of women, Adolescent girls, Elderly, Persons with disabilities and Sanitation workforce