Sanitation in India presents a complex challenge of ensuring access to toilets for the marginalized but also taking a step further to ensure there are efficient systems in place for treatment and disposal of human waste. With the Swachh Bharat Mission, millions of toilets were constructed across the country to ensure Indians have access to basic sanitation facilities and are on the path to being ODF. However, access to toilets is only a tip of the iceberg of challenges that the sector presents. Today, 1.4 billion Indians defecate 140 kg of excreta each year on average. 80% of this human waste is untreated and finds its way to open ground or water bodies, which in turn proves to be hazardous to both public health and environment. Lack of strong systems for disposal and treatment of human waste has a disproportionate impact on the lives of the most vulnerable communities who are the first ones to be exposed to untreated waste and the consequences of environmental damage. To ensure the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable, it is crucial for India to go beyond access and start focusing on safer treatment of human waste through Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) – a decentralized solution that enables safe containment, emptying and transportation of faecal sludge and septage to a treatment plant.
Dasra has been championing collaborative action towards scalable impact by enabling inclusive and integrated citywide sanitation services for human waste management in urban areas. We realised early on that to achieve holistic sanitation for a billion Indians, we need to look at the entire sanitation value chain – right from the containment of faecal waste, to its transport, treatment and proper disposal. Thus, to improve sanitation service delivery and to ensure safety and dignity of the sanitation workforce, we are working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to build a movement enabling total sanitation within urban India. Dasra anchors the National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance (NFSSM Alliance) as its Secretariat. The NFSSM Alliance was instrumental in passing India’s first national policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India in 2017. Since then, the NFSSM Alliance, has grown into a collaborative body comprising of 35+ organizations (NGOs, CSOs, Academic Institutions, Think Tanks etc.) and 120+ individuals, working towards policy recommendations and collaborative action at national, state and city level.
of sewage generated in urban India goes untreated
of India’s GDP is lost due to inadequate sanitation every year
million Indians are severely affected by water borne diseases.
As the backbone of the NFSSM Alliance, we have been playing a critical role in articulating priorities, fostering collaboration among members, supporting and influencing policy recommendations, and enabling cross learning among partners.
We believe in the power of development communications and building narratives to drive impact. Utilizing innovative mediums and tools, we codify and document best practices, insights and evidence to build knowledge for the sector to enable cross learning, and amplify solutions around Inclusive sanitation. Through a human centric approach, we amplify stories of change makers such as community members, sector leaders and the sanitation workforce.
The role of philanthropic investments in the Urban Sanitation sector is paramount to building an inclusive and resilient infrastructure across cities. We are working with diverse group of stakeholders to create and nurture an active network of funders to enable wider commitment for improved inclusive sanitation service delivery.