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Analysis of Total Sanitation Campaign

Understanding Sanitation:  
            Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. But in our context let us understand Sanitation as a hygienic means through which we can preserve our health. This hygienic means can be prevention of contact from any kind of diseases arising from biological or chemical agents. Hygienicmeans of prevention can be by using personal hygienic practices (e.g., hand washing with soap), engineered solutions (e.g., wastewater treatment and sewerage) and by using modern technologies (e.g., latrines, toilets).
History of Sanitation in India:
            Every civilization all over the world has its own kind of emphasis on sanitation. Many epidemics happened in history due to the lack of basic sanitation. In India sanitation is a very old concept. We had indigenous systems of sanitation and drainage planned in the Indus Valley Civilisation. Kautilya in one of the chapters of Arthashastra laid emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness. But despite all these the story of sanitation in the history of India presents a dirty picture. Modern sanitation systems improved only after 1850s (after the sanitation revolution happened in the west) and that too it took nearly a century for India to recognise its importance and adapt to the modern practices. At one point of time Gandhi, Father of our nation remarked that sanitation is more important to our nation than independence. But still even after independence it took half a century to formally accept that sanitation is one of the foremost priorities that should be achieved.
             Sanitation in India today presents a paradox because world’s first sanitation systems were first developed by Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro civilisations and presently in India half of Indian population defecates in the open spaces (Census:2011). As per government estimates 626 million Indians do not have access to toilets. In particular rural sanitation has been getting a lot of coverage as more than sixty percent of the India still live in its villages.
Evolution of Policies on Sanitation:
            After independence water and sanitation were added to the National agenda list and also into the first five year plan. But only in 1986 GOI (Government of India) came up with a nationwide rural sanitation programme called Central Rural Sanitation Programme to improve the quality of life of rural people and to protect privacy and dignity of women. It included many expanded aspects of sanitation like personal hygiene, home sanitation, safe water, garbage disposal, excreta disposal and waste water disposal.
            It was the first programme that concentrated on the sanitation aspects in rural India. The emphasis of the programme was to provide large subsidies for the construction of sanitary latrines for BPL households. It was supply driven, highly subsidised, and emphasised a single construction model but due to minimal community participation the programme could achieve only limited success. This led to Restructuring of the programme into the name of Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in 1999. Now approach changed to demand driven and the focus is people centric. The emphasis of the new approach is Information, Education and Communication (IEC), Human Resource Development, Capacity Development activities to increase awareness among the rural people and generation of demand for sanitary facilities.

            TSC is a community led sanitation programme which aims to eradicate the practice of open defecation by 2017. Its focus is on preventing open defecation through peer pressure and shame and not only by building infrastructure. NGP was launched to recognise the achievements and efforts by village panchayats, blocks and districts in ensuring full sanitation coverage. This award 'Nirmal Puraskar' has given a new enthusiasm in the rural areas to work towards rural sanitation. In the first year 2005, total 38 GPs have been awarded with Nirmal Puraskar and now in 2011. 11000 GPs are being awarded Nirmal Puraskar. Now TSC has been renamed as “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan” (NBA). Now the focus will be on covering sanitation strategies comprehensively in the Nirmal Gram Panchayats.

Case Study : Experiential Learning from Srikakulam Gram Panchayat, Ghantasala Mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh
            As a part of field work module of the village study in semester 1 of rural development and governance Course, we stayed in a village called Surapanenivari Palem in Srikakulam Gram Panchayat in Ghantasala Mandal of District Krishna, Andhra Pradesh. While we were visiting the households we came across an interesting case where most of the households were having toilets but were still not using them. Open defecation still is highly prevalent in the village. We were told that government has funded and constructed toilets under Nirmal Grameen Yojana.
            We visited the Toilets and found out that latrines were not present. When we confronted the villagers they told that most of them have sold it off in the market at a good price after installation. The reason is that the government officials after constructing toilets have not told them about its usage and advantages of using it. They performed their duties and there was no monitoring system in the scheme which looks after post construction behavioural changes. No one in the panchayat or any other government institution seemed to be concerned.
            The Secondary school in the village presents another case. Here also the toilets were constructed under the scheme but the compound was surrounded by drainage water and was inaccessible. There was no one to take care of this. Also the school was not interested in the maintenance activities and the girls were going to their houses for using toilets. Boys were using open spaces around the playground. So there was no mention in the scheme as to who will look after the construction was done. So 100 percent of infrastructure can be set up under the scheme at an accelerated speed but are people using them? We need answers to these questions.
            We can see that there is very less documentation in this scenario. There is no research or surveys done as to what the villagers need. They were provided with whatever the government thinks is appropriate and were never educated on the advantages that come with using toilets. They had no incentive in any sense to use them. There is no framework in which we can record the changes that happened after the construction. Very less research is being done about this area. So there is every need to comprehensively restructure the scheme.
Gender Based Issues in TSC:
Government of India scheme of constructing toilets falls under provision of infrastructure for the beneficiaries. These kind of infrastructure delivery programmes, although seemingly gender neutral, often have a differential impact on women  in view of  their different life experiences, requirements, socio- cultural dimensions and priorities. . Sanitation is critical to women’s health and is a matter of dignity. Lack of sanitation facilities often forces women to restrict themselves by reducing and controlling their diet, which leads to nutritional and health impacts. Women have restricted mobility which reduces their access to sanitary facilities, further leading their defecating openly, distant from home. So, the perceptions of women are essential in early planning for sanitation.
So, the role of women in promoting sanitation is high. It is imperative to have women participate to find workable solutions for their situation not just in the design, building and maintenance of sanitation but also representation at the policy level decisions and management of the programmes. So, in origin of policy like TSC all the gender based issues might have been on the thoughts of policy makers. We can consider the example of tamil nadu which recognized the need and importance of sanitary facilities for females.
Integrated Women Sanitary Complexes with sanitary napkin incinerators are widely seen in all panchayats and are very popular among women in Tamil Nadu. The complexes consist of latrines, bathrooms and washing platforms with piped water supply facilities and at many places they have sanitary napkin incinerators. For safe and hygiene disposal of sanitary napkins, incinerators are found to be a simple, easy to operate, low-cost method installed in many Women Sanitary Complexes (WSCs) and girls’ school toilets. The entire incinerator is attached to the outer wall of the toilet. The waste gets converted into ash and other non-hazardous residues. A smoke vent is provided for the disposal of gaseous substances while firing the sanitary wastes. This helped to solve the problem of clogging of toilet traps and other components. Some complexes also have latrines for the disabled, old age and latrines for children and are run by local women’s SHGs. This simple additions to the school toilets is highly appreciated by girls and teachers. It has removed the inhibitions among girls and has brought them back to school.
Performance of the scheme:
Around 47% of households across India reported having a toilet in the 2011 census, up from 36% of households in 2001. As the map below shows, the regions where a majority of households have a toilet are only a few – North and North-East India, Kerala and the Western Coastal region and parts of Gujarat. In addition, coastal Andhra and Nagpur are also significant. In the rest of the country, the larger urban centers form little ‘islands’ of privilege (in this regard) as compared with the areas around them.

To add vigour to its implementation of TSC, GOI launched an award based Incentive Scheme for fully sanitized and open defecation free Gram Panchayats, Blocks, Districts and States called “Nirmal Gram Puraskar” (NGP).  A Gram Panchayat will be eligible to apply for the NGP on the following grounds:

  • Gram Panchayat has adopted a resolution to ban open defecation within its entire area inclusive of all habitations and villages.
  • All habitations within the Gram Panchayat jurisdiction have access to water for drinking and sanitation purposes.
  • The Gram Panchayat has achieved objectives for all components as approved in the District Project and entered it in the IMIS of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.


            But more than half of 1.2 billion people in India live without toilets. They squat on roadsides, in agriculture fields or at railway tracks and defecate in the open. UNICEF report on INDIA mentioned that the national Indian average of sanitation, hygiene and water safety is mere 34 per cent. For the urban population it is 58 percent whereas for the people in the rural area it is just 23 percent. So beyond government delivering infrastructure on a subsidy basis and achieving its MDG goals there is a requirement of qualitative studies to be done on TSC on how far it has been successful in promoting hygienic sanitation.

Convergence with other Schemes:
            TSC is yet to be integrated into other schemes which are complementary to its working. RGDWM (Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission) which works to improve the availability of drinking water and NRHM(National Rural Health Mission) which is working towards health care in rural areas have same kind of related activities like capacity building, community mobilisation, awareness campaigns. All these are flagship schemes implemented by the GOI and are being implemented by the same district level institutions. TSC which has school sanitation and hygiene education integrated into it can also work along with SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) to be more effective. Emphasis should be given to provide sanitary facilities and also maintenance of these facilities.
            The data from the government sources indicate that there is definite improvement in the situation of sanitation than the previous decade but there are many controversies regarding how much impact TSC had on it. Further the amounts of money spent on TSC is far greater than the impact it had. Many more components of the policy need to become women sensitive and there is greater need to include private players and community organisations into the scheme for it to become successful.
Benny George:Nirmal Gram Puraskar: A Unique Experiment in Incentivising Sanitation Coverage in Rural India, International Journal of Rural Studies (IJRS), Vol. 16, No. 1, April 2009
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Vikas Gupta and Mahi Pal, Community Sanitation Campaign: A Study in Haryana, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 43, No. 33 (16 – 22 August, 2008), pp. 20-23.
Sanitation Programmes: A Glass Half-Full, Benny George, Economic and Political Weekly, and Vol. 44, No. 8 (21 – 27 February, 2009), pp. 65-67.
Culture versus Coercion: Other Side of Nirmal Gram Yojana, Nilika Mehrotra and S. M. Patnaik, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 43, No. 43 (25 – 31 October, 2008), pp. 25-27.
The Sanitation Revolution in Illinois 1870-1900, F. Garvin Davenport, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-4) , Vol. 66, No. 3 (Autumn, 1973), pp. 306-326.
Chambers, R. (2009), Going to Scale with Community-Led Total Sanitation: Reflections on Experience, Issues and Ways Forward. IDS Practice Papers, 2009: 01–50. doi: 10.1111/j.2040-0225.2009.00001_2.x 10.00 a.m. 13.10.2013 06.00 p.m.