Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Community Based Organizations interact with Ward -- Maria Lobo

On 13th August, 2014 a ward level meeting was organized in the ward of G-North, Mumbai  to set a platform for Community based organizations (CBOs) to start interacting with the ward to discuss and sort out technical issues related to community toilets in slums. G-North was one of the wards where the Alliance has constructed toilets under the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project and as part of the Project Management Services was contracted to survey 22 toilet blocks. Apart from surveying, an analysis of these toilets was also done with regards to how many toilets have municipal water, electricity, garbage disposal in the settlement, toilets needing repairs, toilets where CBO restructuring or reformation needs to be taken up etc.

The above dashboard gives a summary of the toilets surveyed in G-North. In the meeting the CBOs were introduced to the ward office and the technical team with whom they could work to resolve issues.

The process of assessing these toilets were—

· Pilot study and preparation of questionnaire—to test out the questionnaire and further modify it

· Conducting physical survey of the toilet and CBO— to know about the issues and status of the toilets ever since they have been constructed

· Data entry and evaluation— keep a computerized record of the data collected

· Observations and solutions—interventions to be done and solutions that can be realistic to all

Ever since these toilets have been constructed and handed over to the CBOs for maintenance, there has never been a back-to-back follow up as to how these toilets are doing, if or not the CBO still exists, are seats enough of if there is an overload on the toilet etc. Therefore this was a starting point to get all the actors involved in this—the CBO, ward, MSDP and NGO to come together and sort out issues as well talk about what good has happened or toilets that are functioning well.

Issues discussed and decisions taken in the meeting -

Irregularity in paying pass money—CBOs complain of families not paying pass money on time and at times they even refuse to follow such systems Display boards to be put up stating the no. of families using the toilet, monthly amount that they have to pay and that strict action will be taken against families that do no pay
Repairs—toilets that are more than 10 years old need repairs and show leakages, doors are broken, pans need to be replaced etc. Ward taken the responsibility of fixing repairs as per circulars of repairs Ward also suggested assessing the performance of these toilets on a regular basis post –repair
Cleaning of septic tank / Sewerage choking—although there are 2-3 toilets having septic tank, they have never been cleaned by the ward. Even toilets connected to the sewer line face choking due to various reasons which need to be corrected Letters need to be given by CBO and ward will clean the septic tank on a regular basis along with clearing choke ups.
Solid waste management—careless disposal of garbage around the toilets and within the settlement was observed Ward officer suggested connecting Dattak Vasti Yojana to CBO for getting the garbage cleared

Setting Precedents in smaller towns of Maharashtra -- Maria Lobo

The Alliance has been working on sanitation since its involvement with the Mahila Milan and Federation. Though most of the work in sanitation be it providing community toilets or individual toilets; has been done in Mumbai, Pune, Vizag efforts are being made to increase and improve sanitation facilities in smaller towns and cities of Maharashtra.

In 2013, SPARC conducted a survey of 150 community toilets constructed since 2000 under Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Projects launched in 1995 by the World Bank and the Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The survey form covered sections on  Settlement information, Physical assessment of the toilets, CBO information, Structural issues, Health and hygiene, the idea of this was to come out with interventions post survey some of which can be taken up jointly by the NGO and the city, few that can solely the responsibility of either the CBO or the concerned ward.

Also in 2013, a citywide settlement profile was conducted in cities of Maharashtra where the Federation is active. Laying stress on sanitation, the analysis of these were that though on one hand there is acute shortage of community sanitation facilities on the other hand the existing sanitation facilities are overlooked and are just left abandoned in absence of no one taking the charge of maintaining those facilities. Having utilities like community toilet blocks in slums and not maintaining the same is also one of the main reasons for increasing open defecation.

In order to replicate and set precedents of initiatives being taken in Mumbai, in a meeting held in August 2014 with six cities of Maharashtra (Bhadgaon, Jalgaon, Ahmed Nagar, Pimpri, Nashik and Malegaon), the cities decided to do a similar survey of toilets constructed by the city municipality in slums. This survey will be undertaken in slums where the Federation and MM have an active presence. To start off with, two types of interventions will be done
1. one toilet in each city will be either reconstructed or repaired or newly constructed as a demonstration to the city
2. The analysis from the survey will be presented to all the municipalities to begin a discussion on who does what and how it can further extended at a citywide level.