(GIST OF YOJANA) Sustainable Sanitation In The Cities [JANUARY-2020]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Sustainable Sanitation In The Cities [JANUARY-2020]

Sustainable Sanitation in the Cities


  • The Census (2011) revealed that 12.6% of households in Urban India were practising Open Defecation (OD). While this was definitely lower than the extent of OD (68%) in rural India, it was nonetheless adversely impacting the health of urban citizens and the overall environment.
  • Moreover, with only 38% coverage of septic tanks and less than 33% coverage of sewerage network in the country, more than 70% of the discharge from the toilets, be it from household or from community/public toilets, were being disposed off in an unsafe manner.
  • A bigger cause of worry was that 75% of fresh water resource used for drinking purpose was contaminated with sewage contributing to 60% of total pollution load (CPCB Report, 2009).

The Cost of Poor Sanitation:

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place significant emphasis on sanitation, cleanliness, and hygiene. There is significant evidence globally that better sanitation, hygiene, and cleanliness help in effective control of various vector-borne diseases, parasite infections, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • There have been studies linking cleanliness and hygiene with reduction in gastrointestinal diseases (especially diarrhoea), psychological issues, and allergic conditions. As per a UNICEF report (2011), almost 90% of child deaths from diarrhoeal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene.
  • In addition to the impact on the communicable diseases, better sanitation leads to reduction in occurrences of low birth weight in babies, spontaneous abortions, and occurrences of birth defects. Studies have proved that improvement in sanitation and hygiene results in better health outcomes.
  • As per the India Health Report for Nutrition Security in India (PHFI, 2015)', the North Eastern State of Mizoram has reported a 13 percentage-point decline in stunting (below normal height for the age) and five percentage points decline in underweight children (underweight and short) between 2006 and 2014 due to improved access to sanitation. Improved sanitation has been shown to have significant impact not only on health, but also on social and economic development, particularly in developing countries. For example, an independent study conducted by UNICEF in India in August 2017 established that every Indian family will save about Rs. 50,000 annually if open defecation is eliminated.

Journey to Sustainable Urban Sanitation:

  • On 2 October, 2019, Urban India became Open Defecation Free (ODF) a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. This historical feat achieved in only a short span of five years was remarkable, given that no Government programme till date had focused on the issue of urban sanitation. In the intervening five years, not only was the sanitation objective of the Mission fulfilled, but lakhs of citizens, especially women, have been provided dignity and safety and significant reduction in vector borne diseases with consequent improvement in health parameters has been experienced, setting urban India on the path of holistic cleanliness.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has been implementing various Missions of the Government of India, viz. Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, NERUDP all of which address the issue of Urban sanitation. Over the last five Cars the urban sanitation initiatives of the Government have achieved impressive success, with more than 99% of its cities and 35 States/UTs having become ODF (under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban). Other Key Enablers: Leveraging Technology, Intensive Behaviour Change & Capacity Building of ULBs
  • In addition, MoHUA’s initiatives in urban sanitation have been complemented significantly through a variety of enablers, viz.
  • Leveraging technology and ‘smart' solutions to widen citizen outreach (e.g. Google mapping of public toilets, Swnchhnta app as a Citizens’ grievance redressal system on all aspects of sanitation);
  • Robust online MIS and portal for real time data capture;
  • Swachh Manch for large scale citizen engagement;
  • Behaviour change initiatives (e.g., engagement of celebrities as ambassadors, mass media audio/video campaigns, swachhata selfie, on-ground citizen activation, etc.); and
  • Continuous capacity building of ULBs through dissemination of technical advisories, providing need-based handholding support, classroom- and field visit-based workshops, etc.

Way Forward:

  • Urban India is now poised at a crucial juncture. While the sanitation situation in cities and towns has definitely improved, there is still a lot that remains to be done, so that all cities become truly smart and liveable.
  • For example, while sufficient toilets (both for individual households and community/public toilets) have been constructed and people have started using them instead of going out for defecation, the issue of maintenance of the community/public toilets needs to be strengthened further to ensure that the toilets do not fall into disuse. Similarly, the issues of safe containment, transportation and disposal of faecal sludge and septage from toilets, as also the grey and black water from households and establishments need to be strengthened further if the health impacts of holistic sanitation are to be realised.
  • This is especially true for smaller cities without sewer networks, and for 60% households in the country that are dependent on onsite sanitation facilities such as septic tanks, which are more often than not constructed without soak pits, and where desludging trucks routinely empty the collected, untreated faecal sludge into open fields and water bodies. This implies that the health and other beneficial impacts of holistic sanitation are not likely to be achieved in the cities, despite being ODF.

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