Providing clean drinking water
proper sanitation facility to all
Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi.
Water and sanitation - two of the greatest challenges in India today; A glance at some of the statistics
sufficient to give us the gist of the situation:
•Less than 50% have access to drinking water in their premises; more than12% spend thirty minutes or
longer daily to get water for the household
•Currently 30% of the rural population lack access to drinking water, and of the 35 states and UTs
India, only 7 have full availability of drinking water for rural inhabitants
•Water quality problems also include Fluoride (66 million people across 17 states estimated to be at
risk), excess Arsenic in ground water (nearly 13.8 million people in 75 blocks reported at risk),
varying iron levels, presence of nitrates and heavy metals, bacteriological contamination and salinity.
•Of the total wastewater generated in the metropolitan cities, barely 30 per cent treated before
disposal. Water supply not continuous in any of India’s cities.
•Issues of gender and caste - of the households that don’t get water on premises, adult females
responsible for fetching water in 81% of the families. Even among children below 15 years of age,
girls are 4 times more likely than boys to be responsible for collecting water. Indian society has an
uncomfortable history with caste discrimination, as lower castes traditionally entrusted with
occupations such as collecting human/livestock waste
•Indian infants, below the age of five, make up 25% of all global diarrhoea related deaths ; more than
30 percent of all deaths among Indian children under the age of five are diarrhoea-related caused due
to water pollution and improper sanitation
•On average, rural women walk 12 miles a day to carry 90 litres of water.
•An estimated 55% of all Indians, or close to 600 million people, still do not have access to any kind
of toilet , 74% of the rural population still defecates in the open.
•Over 700,000 Indians still make their living by scavenging which is quite degrading
•Inadequate water and sanitation facilities cost 6.4% of India’s GDP in terms of health care costs
and loss in productivity
•In the near future, more people will be in the country's urban areas than in rural. The urban
population growth rate is 1.8 times that of the overall population growth and 2.6 times the rural
population growth. Rapid urbanisation brings with it a disturbing change: urbanisation of
poverty, urban poor face exclusion from basic amenities like safe drinking water and sanitation
And the statistics go on and on, and the situation seems dire, even hopeless.
EXISTING SITUATION & PROPOSED SOLUTION
As with many issues, engaging a range of players like – Local government, Micro-finance institutions
Slum families , Community-based organisations and having holistic , cross sectoral, systemic approach in a
networked coalition is critical to achieving lasting improvement in the realm of water and sanitation in India
which will be very clear in subsequent presentation.
•To improve the delivery of drinking water and sanitation, the government administers the National Rural
Drinking Water Program and the Total Sanitation Campaign
•Through the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments the responsibility for drinking water devolved to the
Panchayat Raj Institutions ( PRIs)
•India also one of the few countries in the world which has an exclusive Ministry for drinking water and
•Providing environmentally-safe sanitation to millions of people is a significant challenge, especially in the
world’s second most populated country. The task doubly difficult in a country where the introduction of new
technologies can challenge people’s traditions and beliefs.
•Bangladesh, Mauritania, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan,Viet Nam, etc.—all with a lower gross GDP per capita
than India - just a few of the countries that achieved higher access to improved sanitation than India in last
•80% dependence on ground water means that approximately 12 lakh rural habitations are straight away at
•High water table areas at risk from salinity ingress in coastal areas and leaching of surface contaminants.
SOLUTIONS - DRINKING WATER - IMPLEMENTATION, IMPACT AND
• Move from over-dependence on single source of drinking water ( ground water ) to multiple sources as a
matter of policy to reduce risk and slippages
• Reviving traditional water bodies, creating dispersed rural drinking water storage reservoirs
• Emphasis on recharge of tube-wells, bore-wells, hand pumps and ground water sources of drinking water
• Encouraging household Roof Water Harvesting, Community Rain Water Harvesting structures ;
• Habitation/village water budgeting & demand management to be the basis of water supply and demand
• Conjunctive use of household level rain water, surface water and ground water;
• Encourage simple cost effective stand alone treatment systems to improve water quality & provide for
“piped water system”.
• Incentivize and reward sustainable water supply
• Link water supply to Sanitation, clean village, solid & liquid waste management, recycling of used water
as part of sustainable water supply system.
• Govt programmes and schemes require restructuring & strengthening to tackle new issues and emerging
complex problems .Focus on convergence of resources and investments on various programmes such as -
NRHM, NREGS, IWDP, Hariyali, National Afforestation Programme, National Project for Repair,
Restoration & Renovation of Water Bodies, River Valley project & Flood Prone River Programme,
Finance Commission grants, Backward Regions Grant Funds, ARWSP, TSC, etc.
• restructure the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission. It has to be a Centre of Excellence and
serve as a reference point to the on all matters of Rural Sanitation and Water Supply. These programmes
should become knowledge warehouse and source for sharing of experiences, promotion of good practices
and skill up-gradation;
• Updation of data collection; habitation-wise information on status of drinking water supply to be
concurrent and web-based Integrated Management Information Systems ( IMIS) on water budgeting,
supply-demand management at habitation level
• Look into rights & responsibility issues, public-private partnership issues;
• Framework for financial institutions including micro-finance & NGO participation in drinking water and
• Appropriate legal and constitutional mechanisms to provide protection for drinking water sources -
Providing for punitive action against all polluters of protected drinking water sources on the pattern of
reserve forests, endangered species of animals, etc.;
• Provide framework for dynamic norms which continuously focuses water security.
• Models of drinking water supply based on cost of production of water, encourage affordability of water
using differentiated tariff mechanisms sensitive to equity issues
• Huge national campaign on Clean Water Awareness, conservative use of water and water conservation.
• Need to invest much more on accretion of sources & mobilisation of resources, preventing contamination
even as we promote technologies for water treatment.
• Technologies by itself cannot provide Sustainable systems unless the issue of source is addressed.
• To promote technologies for safe disposal of extracted contaminants.
• A Centralised location & Institutional mechanism for transfer of knowledge for sustainable drinking water
supply and drinking water security consisting of : Water recharge, rejuvenation of drinking water bodies,
roof water harvesting, protection of catchments, etc.
• Technologies for improving water quality to be standardised and mainstreamed through
Institutional mechanism, huge system of dissemination of technologies to the grass root levels.
• Developing models of habitation level water budgeting, demand management, water
conservation and reuse with detailed engineering, accounting, costing, pricing and tariff
• Developing human resources and large army of skilled manpower at village/ habitation levels
on basic water management using ground water, surface water and roof water. This includes
skill and infrastructure on water testing, reporting of water quality and quantity information and
prompt redressal systems
• National Campaign on Clean Water, Conserve Water with specific reference to improving
potable water availability and access with equity to all sections of the rural population.
• Collect and share information on financially viable models along with options for funding
sources and patterns of financing and re-financing that can encourage water security including
• Linkage with DST and Scientific Institutions for mainstreaming and standardising technologies
SOLUTIONS – SANITATION - IMPLEMENTATION, IMPACT AND
• Affordable toilets for all - Simple solutions, Environment friendly, Tackling availability of material, Involve local self
government, Trained manpower, Technology options for our diversity, Intensive awareness drives, Reward performance
• Women in Sanitation - Women as prime movers towards total sanitation, Involve Women in all activities, Campaign targeted
to provide safety, pride, dignity of women, Self help groups involvement in sanitation promotion ; School sanitation to reach
children and adolescent girls, Simple low cost incinerators to dispose sanitary napkins in schools, sanitary complexes in
villages, Promoting menstrual hygiene and use of sanitary napkins among adolescent school girls.
• Technology for Special Areas - Toilet designs for diverse climates, soil types - Ladakh in extreme north temperatures below
freezing; Kanyakumari in extreme south temperatures over 40C ; Rajasthan & Gujarat in the west deserts; Assam in the east
has highest rainfall in the world; Soil types range from sandy to alluvial to hard rock Water table ranges from 5 m to 300 m,
with areas of annual flooding. e.g. Cold Deserts of Ladakh Traditionally used no-water toilets; Input of new designs on same
principles; Built into the house; Faecal matter covered with soil, used as fertiliser.
• Low cost technology alternatives – Bamboo, Plastic containers, Wood
• Plastic / Fibre Glass Pans alternates - Locally produced, Reduces cost of transport, especially in hilly areas, Generates
• Sanitation not only toilets - also hygienic animal shed, Bio Gas units, Kitchen Gardens, Vermicomposting, etc.
• Biogas linked toilets for energy Sustainability - Safe disposal of excreta, Energy for cooking, Returns nutrient to the earth –
enriched manure, Sustainable eco friendly solution – Better health,
• Sustainable solid waste management - collection and Segregation of waste, Composting, Recycling
• Sustainable liquid waste management - Using natural systems for aerating waste water, Recycling waste water for
horticulture and agriculture
• Monitoring with Transparency - Using the Web for on-line monitoring; Village level data on targets and achievements; All
analysis and reports available to public; All Technical Notes, Designs on website; Feedback and Queries invited from all
• Sanitation should be accorded National Priority as our country’s most important National Mission
• Civil Societies to be encouraged to campaign for Sanitation as a matter of Pride & Human Rights.
• Civic bodies, especially those at the Grass Root level, Villages, towns and Municipalities to move towards
Total Sanitation in a competitive spirit.
• Individuals, NGOs, Communities, civic bodies who are able to set examples and have achieved Total
Sanitation should be recognised and celebrated as National Heroes
• Industry and Corporate sector which is a burgeoning engine of growth in all developing countries should
promote “Cleanliness Consciousness” as much as they promote “Quality Consciousness”.
• New paradigms for Measuring Health Impacts on Sanitation may be Standardised and Universalised so that
the benefits of Sanitation can be Quantified and Assessed.
• Continued and continuous Research & Development for including changes in the curriculum of Civil,
Mechanical, Environmental & Plumbing Engineering.
• To understand and respond to the issues linking sanitation to total waste management, Zero Waste, Reuse &
Recycling of Human, Animal, Civic and Industrial Wastes should be a Sanitation Plus programme integrated
in the National Sanitation Campaign.
• Legal & Regulatory Framework which can Support, Encourage and Insist on Good Public Health and
Sanitary Practices and is enforced rightfully and legally should be a Common Agenda.
• Invest in the Children & Youth through schools & competitive programmes, and recognition in terms of
rewards, awards for individual, household and community level cleanliness –This is a Programme for
Gennext and a one time Investment.
•Assistance still not reaching to large numbers of the poorest of the poor. Investments must be
customised and targeted to those most in need.
•Cost-effective options must be explored; Appropriate lower-cost solutions offer a safe alternative
to a wider range of the population.
•Sanitation should be addressed all the way “from toilet to river.”
•Proper planning and sequencing must be applied. Investing in incremental improvements is an
approach that one could consider if affordability of sanitation investment is an issue. Careful
planning is required to ensure that investments do not become wasteful and redundant.
•Community-based solutions must be adopted where possible. An approach known as
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has been found to be effective in promoting change at
the community level. Efforts must address sociocultural attitudes toward sanitation and involve
women as agents of change. Another innovation is the socialised community-fund raising, which
has met great success among the rural poor.
•Innovative partnerships must be forged to stimulate investments. The key is to stimulate
investments from as wide a range of sources as possible, including the private sector,
nongovernment organisations (NGOs), and consumers themselves. This may require working
with a wide range of partners through innovative public–private partnerships.
• UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation estimate for 2008
• World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP): (September 2010)
• Asian Development Bank:2007 Benchmarking and Data Book of Water Utilities in India, 2007
• National Institute of Urban Affairs: Status of Water Supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, 2005
• GTZ:ECOLOGICAL SANITATION – A NEED OF TODAY! PROGRESS OF ECOSAN IN INDIA, 2006
• Planning Commission (India):DRAFT REPORT OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE ON URBAN
DEVELOPMENT FOR ELEVENTH FIVE YEAR PLAN (2007–2012), 2007
• Planning Commission of India. "Health and Family Welfare and AYUSH : 11th Five Year Plan".
• UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation : JMP tables, 2012
• Asian Development Bank : Every Drop Counts. Learning from good practices in eight Asian cities, 2010
• National Institute of Urban Affairs: Status of Water Supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, 2005
• Water Supply & Sanitation – Reaching the Poor Through Sustainable Partnerships: The Slum Sanitation
Program in Mumbai, India
• The Politics of Toilets, Boloji
• Planning Commission: India Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2002, a WHO-UNICEF sponsored
• Institute of Development Studies : Community-led total sanitation : India
• 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
• Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Drinking Water Supply : Swajaldhara 2010.
• World Bank : Inefficiency of Rural Water Supply Schemes in India, Smita Misra, 2008
• Asian Development Bank : Benchmarking and Data Book of Water Utilities in India, 2007
• National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), 2002, Status of Water Supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste
Management in Urban India
• Global Water Partnership : Malay Raj Mukerjee India: Issues in introducing a realistic water pricing regime
in urban local bodies
• Planning Commission of India : India Assessment 2002, Water Supply and Sanitation, a WHO-UNICEF
sponsored study, 2003
• Planning Commission:10th Plan (2002–2007)
• Asian Development Bank : Country Water Action: India. Testing Innovative Financing, December 2008
• JICA : Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Program, External Evaluator: Hajime Sonoda Field
Survey: September 2005.
• World Bank India Water Projects
• World Bank : India's Water Economy : Bracing for a Turbulent Future, 2005
• Comprehensive Portal on Water in India: India Water Portal
• Solution Exchange : Water Community in India
• Water and Environmental Sanitation Network India : WES-Net India
• Asian Development Bank/Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission: 2007 Benchmarking and Data
Book of Water Utilities in India
• Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission : Overview