With rapid urbanization of India, as well as a steadily increasing population, there is a tremendous pressure on the Indian government to provide safe drinking water and sanitary services to more than 266 million who are living in towns and cities. The health conditions that are associated with lack of safe drinking water and sanitation are reflected in high rates of stunting, malnutrition, and death from water-borne diseases. Most of the water-borne diseases are caused by poor sanitation practices, as nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home and 44% of the mothers disposing their children’s feces in the open. According to The World Bank, 21% of the India’s communicable diseases are water-borne, and children under the age of 5 are particularly vulnerable.
The WASH campaign by the UNICEF is one of the key steps through which interdependent issues of water, sanitation and hygiene were addressed. Additionally, Swacch Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign) was initiated by the USAID and India jointly on January 13th, 2015 where USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Urban Development to contribute to realization of India’s vision of availability of clean water and sanitation for all. The plan includes:
1. developing monitoring and evaluation framework to support program implementation
2. facilitate capacity building
3. develop communication strategies between different government and private institutions
Additionally, urban WASH Alliance is being set up that will allow a platform for India’s public and private sectors to implement and scale innovative water and sanitation projects and campaigns in India’s major cities in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. In the Delhi area, USAID and Government of Delhi are working in underserved areas to provide water and sanitation infrastructures. The aim is to reach more than 40,000 households in approximately 60 slums, with setup of 4,000 individual toilets and safe drinking water for 10,000 households.
Our organization, Heeals, has been at the forefront of implementing hygiene programs in underserved communities. It works with schools and underserved communities to bring about changes in attitude and knowledge towards these issues, that are often a matter of taboo especially among the females. Further Heeals helps to bring resources such as soaps, building safe places for defecation, and working with local authorities in bring clean water in these communities.