- The intervention is an integrated community based holistic plenary on ‘water and sanitation’ issues of urban poor, inhabiting the slums of Kolkata metropolis in West Bengal, Guwahati in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya. It propounds a sustainable revenue return model for unrestricted access to WHO recommended safe drinking water through micro-retail services for community and clean sanitation facility. The WASH program is implemented by South Asian Forum for Environment [SAFE] in the name as ‘WASH-US’(Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Urban Slums) in West Bengal and NEWS-UP (Nonconventional Energy in Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor) in Assam & Meghalaya. The facility shall have an improvised solar run water-treatment plant sustained on harvested surface water in ponds and supplying budgeted volume of drinking water to slum dwellers at a nominal and affordable price of INR 0.20 per litre (USD 0.004), along with a common hygienic sanitation unit for them. Community enjoys the facility with a contributory ‘service fee’ for maintenance of the facility and also earns revenue by micro-retailing the excess of potable water to urban consumers in the area. A biogas plant fed with the refuse of community toilet and other organic garbage of the area supplies to a community kitchen in the day time and generates electricity to illuminate strategic points at night for the safety and security of womenfolk. The proposal importantly focus on three primary aspects
- Access to safe water for all, ensuring community governance towards budgeted and wise-use of water resources and its recovery as well.
- Establish a sustainable revenue linked participatory model for healthy and sanitized environment to all, by developing community ownership and warranted attitude change in sanitation habit
- Integrate the community intervention on water and sanitation with a ‘low-carbon’ initiative by reducing emission footprints and prompting the use of renewable energy through reciprocity and equity.
The proposed programme is aligned to newly drafted National Water and Sanitation Policy in India, propounding right to clean drinking water and sanitation to all, wherein the water resources ministry has suggested that the access to safe drinking water and sanitation be regarded as a right. The policy has prioritized regional preferences of action to address the statistical gap in achieving national targets wherein only 42.2% people in Jharkhand, Bihar & West Bengal have access to clean drinking water and sanitation compared to Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand having nearly 90% coverage. The proposal also promotes national mandate of developing 100% open defecation free peri-urban areas.
Clean water is touted as “Next Oil” in recent times and UNDP report (2010-11) states that slum dwellers do not have proper and equal access to drinking water recommended by WHO. Though the MDG of UN Task Force for free access to clean drinking water to all is next to impossibility in peri-urban slums of India, this proposal tries to deliver a sustainable solution by developing a revenue return model and cross subsidizing the commodity so that poorest of the poor can afford it. It is, therefore, a community partnership model for access to water and sanitation for all, where participatory decision is facilitated with technology support, strategic assessment and adaptive management for accomplishing the core objectives. Mainstay of the proposed process is a 3-tier design, which represents a community centre run by the WSHGs that supplies safe drinking water in budgeted volume to the beneficiaries, accounts for the revenue returns from excess of production and runs a biogas fed community kitchen roaster facility as a value added service for the community women. The other value added services like community lighting and production of organic fertilizer from the biogas slurry are also extended to the beneficiaries as alternative economic opportunities and better lifestyle. Administration, operation and accounting are maintained by members of WSHGs in rotation, for which they earn remuneration from the collected revenues.
Mainstay facility comprise of the solar run water treatment plant with a 24X7 Water-ATM and 24 units of Biosanitation facilities connected to a Biogas plant and a generator unit installed by the implementing agency under the supervision of technology partner of the consortium and to be maintained by the trained community members. The implementing organization helps in community convergence to use the sanitation facility on sharing basis and develop sanitary habits, whereas they also bring in changes in attitude of wise-use of water through sensitization. In compensating the opportunity cost the lead organization will help them through capacity building for alternative economic opportunity and create direct and indirect employment opportunities as technical service provider or through extension services of microutility retail supply of water, biogas and organic fertilizer. The convergence is brought through free health camps, awareness campaign on health, hygiene, and environment. It also ensures community interventions for rainwater harvesting and integrated solid waste management. The members of the community are brought under financial inclusion program through bank linkage & microinsurance program.
A ‘Project Monitoring and Regulation Committee (PMRC)’ has been formed with local stakeholders, technology providers and local administration to assess the progress intermittently from the date of inception. The committee designed ‘SMART’ verifiable indicators to assess the deliverables in midterm & term-end phases. Regular feedback on equity, reciprocity, accessibility and availability will be monitored and collected through various processes. Participatory vulnerability analysis (PVA), attitude scaling and survey methodologies will strategically deploy adaptive management for sustainable growth. The reporting occurs through circulated information, discussion and knowledge sharing.
Currently six units are working in eastern and north eastern India at Kolkata, Guwahati & Shillong benefitting nearly 12000 urban poor in 8 slums. The project has been longlisted by Ashden International this year and has won UN Water for Life Award in 2015 COP21, Paris.