Gender Responsive Budget Analysis in Water and Sanitation: A Study of Two Resettlement Colonies (Jhuggi Jhopri Clusters) in Delhi

In an interesting and insightful paper by Gyana Ranjan Panda and Trisha Agarwal submitted for the GDN 13th Annual Global Development Conference, the authors have highlighted how various policies and schemes pertaining to urban water and sanitation in India can  be categorized as  ‘gender blind’  since these  do not recognize the gender-based disadvantages in  accessing safe water supply and also accessing sanitation, sewerage and drainage.

Following the methodology of budget analysis and related aspects of Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS),  the study  attempts to capture the quantum of budgetary outlays for urban Water and Sanitation in Delhi region with a focus on Bawana and Bhalaswa as two resettlement colonies as areas of inquiry. Such an exercise is attempted from the gender lens in order to ascertain the hypotheses that water collection and management is seen largely as the responsibility of women in both rural and urban settings; and that the lack of water and sanitation facilities significantly and disproportionately impacts the lives of women and girls as compared to men and boys. Hence, it is argued that welfare schemes and programmes pertaining to water and sanitation,  as  implemented  by  the  Government  of  India  and Government of Delhi, include gender benefit components in their guidelines and budgetary allocations. The broad objective in the study is to look at the responsiveness of budgets  on Water and Sanitation from a gender perspective (Gender Responsive Budget Analysis), in order to identify gender components  in  water  and  sanitation  related  schemes,  tracking  the  corresponding  budget  outlays  and expenditures and finally assess the adequacy of the spending to respond to the specific gender needs.

The  authors observed  gender-based disadvantages due to lack of access to safe drinking water, clean and affordable sanitation, sewerage and  drainage, which are consistent with the critical inputs provided by NGOs such as JAGORI and Action India’s work in the relocation colonies of Bawana and Bhalswa

Gender-based Disadvantages in Accessing to Water Supply

  • Time and opportunity cost for work lost due to time spent in water collection.
  • Conflicts and fights regarding space to wash clothes and cook.
  • Physical and sexual harassment in public transport while collecting water from distant places.
  • Exposure to physical and sexual violence while collecting water from tankers.
  • Absenteeism and dropout rate of girl children from schools.
  • Unsafe drinking water raises the risk of women, men and children being susceptible to waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea, affecting their health and subsequently livelihood.

Gender-based Disadvantages in Accessing Sanitation, Sewerage and Drainage

  • Incidents of sexual harassment while availing sanitation facilities at  Community Toilet Complexes (CTCs).
  • Poor and faulty design of CTCs which put women at the risk of being harassed.
  • CTCs are not open for the entire day which causes inconvenience to women to meet their sanitary needs.
  • Inadequate and unsafe sanitary public infrastructure causes loss of dignity and privacy to women who are forced to resort to open defecation.
  • Inadequate infrastructure raises vital safety concerns for women as they are sexually assaulted or attacked when they resort to open defecation.
  • Women have to wait until dark to defecate and urinate in the open, so tend to drink less water during the day, resulting in all kinds of health problems such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Poor maintenance and design of drains leading to conflicts that put women at risk physically.
  • Loss of dignity and privacy while disposing menstrual waste.
  • Hygienic conditions are often poor in public defecation areas, leading to worm infestation and water-borne diseases.
  • Girls, particularly after puberty, miss school due to lack of proper sanitary facilities for dealing with menstrual hygiene

Their complaints relate mainly to incidents of sexual harassment at the CTCs and in open areas whenever CTCs cannot be accessed. Initiatives undertaken by the community have been the only way to counter these problems. This raises the question of government action, considering that a woman’s dignity and safety is severely undermined especially among the vulnerable urban poor.

In this regard, Gender Responsive Budget Analysis in water and sanitation is critical to identifying the gender component in water and sanitation related schemes, tracking the corresponding budget outlays and expenditures and assessing the adequacy of the spending to respond to the specific gender needs.

GRB is not an accounting exercise but an on-going process of engagement with policies across sectors to ensure that gender gaps are addressed. In other words, it translates gender commitments into budgetary commitments. GRBIs are tools that analyse budgets to see how government policies and programmes have different impacts on women and men, and girls and boys.The various tools that can be used for a gender sensitive budget analysis are:

  • Gender-aware policy appraisal
  • Gender-disaggregated beneficiary assessments
  • Gender-disaggregated public expenditure incidence analysis
  • Gender-disaggregated tax incidence analysis
  • Gender-disaggregated analysis of the impact of the budget on time use
  • Gender-aware medium term economic policy framework
  • Gender-aware budget statement

The analysis of Delhi Budget suggests that though the state government has recognised water and sanitation services in the region as the second most prioritised area after transport, its budgetary allocations in the real sense have gone down over the years. In spite of an increase in overall budgetary allocation for water and sanitation from 2007–08 to 2010–11, in absolute terms it has gone down when compared to the total budget of Delhi. In the financial year (FY)  2007–08, the share of actual expenditure on water and sanitation to total budgetary expenditure of Delhi was 7.4 % and which this dropped to 6.1% in FY 2010-11.

The study observes that the overall budgetary allocation for water and sanitation in the resettlement colonies and for  Jhuggi Jhopri(JJ) clusters is  grossly  inadequate  and  not  in  sync  with  the  needs  and effective level of service delivery in the urban settlements. In the FY 2011–12, Rs. 90 million ($2 million) was spent on water supply and Rs.240 million ($5.32 million) on sanitation facilities.  On a per capita basis, the Delhi government is spending a meagre Rs. 30 ($0.66) on water supply and Rs.80 ($1.78) on sanitation per JJ colony resident in 2011–12. Hence, inadequacy of funds for these areas is surely a cause of concern.

Sewerage and drainage in the relocation colonies of Bawana and Bhalswa are the main issues of contention as pointed out by officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), but no one has taken responsibility of creating the problems. It is difficult to assess who is accountable for the prevailing water and sanitation situation in the study areas. There is confusion, lack of effective collaboration and consultation among various implementing agencies and many are busy in passing the buck.

The issue of privatisation of urban water and sanitation services in the JJ colonies is a matter of some concern. In the study areas, although the MCD does not impose any charges on the residents for the use of Community Toilet Complexes (CTCs), the ones that are contracted out to private agencies to run those CTCs charge a fee. Consequently, there is  a financial burden on the residents and more so on women who have to pay for the children as well.

Finally, the study finds that the effort of bringing out a ‘Gender Responsive Budgeting’ in India has been a cosmetic exercise so far. Although the government comes out with a Gender Budget Statement (GBS) every year, many important essential services including water and sanitation are not reflected in it. At the Union level, neither the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) nor the Department of Urban Development (DoUD) – two nodal administrative agencies for the purpose of water and sanitation services in the country– report in the GBS about their separate allocation for gender welfare. This makes it difficult to assess women’s share in water and sanitation services in rural and urban areas. Similar is the case at the level of the Delhi government.

Catch the entire paper at


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