Sanitation Projects

Six of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for international development which were established as a result of the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 relate to sanitation.  All of the member states, including India, agreed to achieve the goals of the MDG's by 2015.  Four of the MDG's relate directly to sanitation (MDG 4: Reduce child mortality; MDG 5: Improve maternal health; MDG 6: Combat diseases; and, MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability) and another two are related tangentially as the lack of adequate sanitation facilities in schools results in girls dropping out of education (MDG 2: Achieve universal primary school education; MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women).

Despite the commitment to the MDG's the sanitation situation in India remains very poor:

Shelter Associates relationship with the communities living in the slums, and informal settlements has given an insight into how a lack of access to sanitation has a detrimental impact on health and safety.

  • Community toilet blocks are frequently in a poor condition and the queuing at peak times can be frustrating and inconvenient for the community.
  • Defecating out in the open can expose people to health risks and safety risks - disease, sexual harassment and physical assault.
  • Many women and girls restrict their intake of food and drink to lessen the likelihood that they will need to go to the toilet.  This impacts their health, cognitive development and, if they are pregnant, also impacts the health and development of the unborn child. 

Shelter Associates relationship with the local government, especially the local administration ward offices in Pune, has also indicated that there is: (1) A severe lack of information regarding the extent and condition of current sanitation services; (2) A lack of clarity as to how to apply the objectives of the city's sanitation planning policy document; and (3) A unsustainable large financial burden placed on the ward offices to maintenance the community toilets in its administration ward. 

Shelter Associates and 'Baandhani' have worked together on access to sanitation since 2000, and have successfully implemented innovative projects in the cities of Pune, Sangli & Miraj, and in Khuldabad in the Aurangabad district.  Community toilets have been built in Sangli & Miraj which include accommodation for a caretaker and a biogas system which converts the gases generated by the human excrement into a usable energy source for the caretaker and a few families in the communities; these community toilets are still in good condition over a decade after completion and hand-over to the community.  More recently Shelter Associates moved towards a vision of 'one home-one toilet' and has used poverty mapping to link sanitation funds, available through private donation, with families living in slums or informal settlements without toilets.  The vision of 'one home-one toilet' is for every family to have access to their own toilet thereby reducing the financial burden on the administrative ward office (freeing up funds for other sanitation infrastructure), and reducing the instances of open defecation (and all associated violations of a persons health and safety).