One of the most important determinants of community health and well being is the status of safe drinking water and sanitation. These facilities are a critical component of what we call it as “Health Infrastructure”. It has been reflected in various researches that safe drinking water and improved sanitation can lead to substantial reduction of instances of diseases in the country which are preventive in nature.
The status of Odisha State in India in terms of coverage under safe drinking water was higher than national average in terms of coverage of rural and urban habitations with safe source of drinking water supply, tube wells and shallow wells. However, there are several areas of concern. Water quality in many pockets of Odisha is a serious issue. In some areas such as Daspalla, the content of fluoride in the ground water is much more than the mandated levels. Frequent breakdown in tube wells and rural piped water supply units is another problem area. The rural people in many parts are still not tuned to appreciate the value of safe drinking water.
The sanitation habits of people in rural area are still poor. Odisha lags far behind in terms of access to toilet facilities. Between 2001 and 2010 sanitation overall coverage in Odisha increased from 8% to 42% but sustained toilet usage, sustainability of NGPs and adoption of best hygiene practices remain key challenges. Odisha is committed to the Sustainable Development Goal 6 so to achieve, by 2030, universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water and to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, as well as to end open defecation. The Total Sanitation Campaign Program is being implemented in all the 30 districts. Besides creating awareness among people to demand sanitation, the campaign offers a mix of incentives and investment. This program has been able to cover only 37 percent of rural households with cost effective usable toilets.
While coverage of drinking water is high, equitable access to drinking water and water safety remains a major concern. Major reason for perpetuation of diseases like diarrhea, gastroenteritis, anemia and jaundice can be attributed to the non-availability of safe drinking water with poor sanitation facilities and practices. Availability of drinking water facilities remains very poor in Odisha. Only 25.6% of households are covered by piped water supply or by hand pumps in the State as against 88.5% households covered at the national level. Though over 80% of schools have drinking water, there is still a long way to go to ensure all schools are covered with sanitation facilities.
Project NirmalOSVSWA has been working on the issue of water, Sanitation, Health & Hygiene since past more than 18 years with support from its donors. One of our major recent interventions ‘PROJECT NIRMAL (Odisha State Sanitation Partnership Project), started in 2015 and yet to finish in 2020. The vision of the project is to demonstrate a sustainable sanitation service delivery for small towns, enabling institutional and financial arrangements and increased private sector participation. The main goal of the project is to improve the citywide coverage of sanitation facilities to ensure protection of environment and health. The project has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Arghyam, and implemented in collaboration with Practical Action, and in agreement with Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha.
The project focuses on city-wide sanitation through demonstration of appropriate and sustainable sanitation service delivery in two small towns of Odisha, Angul and Dhenkanal, with a population of around 50,000 and 90,000 respectively. The main aim of the initiative is to inform support frameworks at the state and national levels to enable replicability.
The objectives of the project are:
• To reduce resistance of people staying near to the faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP) site in the city.
• To increase awareness within the community and other stakeholders on faecal sludge management (FSM).
• To ensure construction of appropriate toilets and tank/pits by the households/institutions.
• To ensure timely desludging of the septic tank/pits of the toilets in the city.
• To address negative behaviour patterns among the service providers pertaining to collection, transportation and disposal of faecal sludge particularly on adoption of proper method of collection, use of safety gears during collection, use of proper medium for safe transportation and prevention of disposal in the water bodies/open spaces/drains.
• To enhance the understanding and the capacity of the urban local body as well as the private service providers to provide FSM services, operation and maintenance.
The key outcomes of the project are:
o Demonstrated State Government and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) commitment towards sanitation service delivery in small towns.
o Capacity development of states and cities for effective sanitation service delivery.
o Increased number of people in pilot towns with access to better sanitation services.
o Improved city-wide planning approaches for sanitation.
o Demonstrated models for FSM.
OSVSWA has completed the construction of the Fecal Sludge Treatment plant in Dhenkanal and Angul town of Odisha under the Project Nirmal.