In India, 1,600 children die every day before reaching their fifth birthday, 24% of girls drop out of school and more than 30% of marginalized women are violently assaulted every year as the lack of basic sanitation forces them to travel long distances to meet their needs. Above all, lack of sanitation is not a symptom of poverty but a major contributing factor.
Adequate sanitation is a basic human right. Its lack is related to, and exacerbates, other burdens of inequity experienced by marginalized urban households, deepening the cycle of poverty. The lack of sanitation increases living costs, decreases spend on education and nutrition, lowers income earning potential, and threatens safety and welfare. This is especially true for urban India.
A parliamentary panel set up by the Ministry of Urban Development recently revealed that cities across India severely lack accessible sanitation facilities and necessary connections across the sanitation chain. Several gaps within the chain have led to dismal sanitation standards across the country. As a result, not a single Indian city can boast of being clean and healthy.
Sanitation in urban slums is a complex and pressing issue. Existing unhygienic standards, crowded conditions and poor sanitation contribute to frequent and rapid outbreaks of disease. Lack of access to healthcare facilities compounds health problems. This negatively impacts gender parity, education and livelihoods, making slum populations even more vulnerable.
Sanitation, particularly for urban areas, remained a neglected subject in India for a long time, becoming an important policy concern only around 2008. Policy created since then provides a role for all stakeholders, including non-profits, involved in providing sanitation to India’s urban residents.
A report by DASRA highlights that recent policy developments focusing on urban sanitation coupled with strategic philanthropic funding, can go a long way in providing urban poor with access to improved sanitation and ensuring healthy, prosperous cities.
Dasra has recommended 5 five cornerstones that are crucial in providing universal urban sanitation in India:
- Developing a Gendered Approach
- Improving Hygiene
- Fostering Champions within Government
- Nurturing Community Ownership
- Customizing Solutions and Creating Standards
Catch the whole report at: http://www.dasra.org/pdf/SquattingRights_Report.pdf