Achieving safely managed sanitation is a critical aspect of promoting health, well-being, and sustainable development in communities. 

Why safely-managed sanitation?

The flagship programmes of the government have successfully granted access to individual household latrines nationwide. Now, our focus extends beyond mere accessibility. We are diligently working on establishing a sustainable sanitation value chain to ensure the enduring functionality of these toilets. This involves implementing measures to maintain and support the long-term viability of the sanitation infrastructure, emphasising the importance of sustained sanitation practices for the well-being of communities. 

Ensuring the proper management of sanitation is crucial, as having functional toilets and a well-established sanitation value chain on the premises reduces the risk of human contact with faeces, consequently lowering the incidence of diseases. While achieving access to toilets is a milestone, the focus now shifts to ensuring their prolonged functionality. This involves introducing region-specific technologies, retrofitting dysfunctional toilets, and implementing household-level liquid waste management, addressing both black and grey water. 

Our approach

To ensure the sustainability of advocated improvements, we prioritise behaviour change and collaborate with communities to assess various sanitation options, enabling informed decision-making. Specific needs of children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly are considered in devising straightforward and durable solutions. Employing a diverse set of practices to reach everyone, everywhere, we:

  • Instigate behaviour change through campaigns and .
  • Provide to mandated institutions like schools,  anganwadis and healthcare facilities.
  • Address the sanitation chain, ensuring of human waste from containment and transportation to treatment and disposal or re-use, encompassing open defecation-free sustainability and .
  • Establish community cadres/collectives, ensuring the of persons with disabilities, women, and children in the process. 

The power of a decent toilet

When the toilet spells more than hygiene, it ensures comfort, dignity, and safety too.

Image: WaterAid India/Pause Photography

We plan a lot of things in life: a course of action at work, a day out, a meal, a trip. However, how often does one plan the time to relieve oneself?

When she came to her in-laws’ house as a newlywed, Sudha Lakshmi was taken aback at the prospect of ‘timing’ this normal bodily function in accordance with the time of the day. “We had a toilet back at my parents’ home but my in-laws did not have one. I was hesitant to go out to defecate like everyone else but I had no choice,” she said. Years of discomfort later, now, when she is a mother of two adolescent girls, Sudha finally has a toilet in her house—an intervention in which WaterAid India played a crucial role.

The times when Sudha or her daughters would have to ask for company to go to relieve themselves, ‘to stand guard’, is now a thing of the past. “Even my mother-in-law is grateful for the toilet now. We are all very happy,” Sudha ended with a smile. 

It took us INR 25,000-30,000 to build the toilet and it was so worth it. Now none of us have to wait to go and relieve ourselves. We can go whenever we want. My daughters can go whenever they want—we feel safe and we save a lot of time as well.

Our impact

Safely managed sanitation is at the core of our programme delivery and through our advocacy and campaigns, we raise awareness of the fact that improvements in sanitation are key to the success of many other areas of development – including health, environment, education, housing, and infrastructure. 

Facilities that last whatever the situation

To support our sanitation initiatives, our primary focus has been on providing access to individual toilets for those currently without, retrofitting toilets to align with ecological considerations, and implementing decentralised solutions for greywater management at the household, cluster, or habitation level. We are also exploring solutions for rural faecal sludge treatment. Additionally, our efforts extend to ensuring toilets are accessible for individuals with different abilities.

In WASH institutions, our goal is not only adequacy in terms of user numbers but also the provision of age and gender-appropriate facilities in anganwadis, schools (including residential schools in two states), and healthcare facilities. 

Know our niche and themes on which WaterAid India works.

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