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Timely, Relevant and Actionable Reports for SBM

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The momentum and scale of the Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM-G) is unprecedented. The speed of implementation means that the identification of gaps and finding answers to these in ways that provide practical ideas for policy and practice can have exceptionally widespread impact provided they can be timely, relevant and actionable. The trade-offs between timeliness and the time required for conventional academic rigour are vast. Fortunately, a range of innovations and approaches have recently been developed and applied in India for timely and practical learning on sanitation.

Therefore, WaterAid India and the CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex commissioned some timely, relevant and action-orientated research. Four consultants were asked to conduct a rapid review of accessible literature combined with key informant interviews and field visits on four key topics.  They were given freedom to be highly flexible in their approaches. The topics and headline findings were:

  1. Twin-Leach Pits: There is a lack of knowledge on technical aspects of costs and construction and technical information on toilet designs and functions.
  2. Septic Tanks and Faecal Sludge Management: There are variations in the number of septic tanks in each state. Faulty construction and careless treatment of faecal sludge are second generation challenges that need attention. 
  3. Men and Open Defecation: Several studies have found a clear gender gap in toilet usage. Many campaigns have focussed on women leaving men’s open defecation as a major problem. Examples of national and local efforts to stop men openly defecating have revealed promising approaches.
  4. Sanitation Coverage, Usage and Health: Partial usage varies widely across studies which have methodological inconsistencies. Current knowledge points to the need for a high coverage and usage to achieve major benefits in health and nutrition.

Findings were presented at a one day workshop in Delhi which was convened by WaterAid India and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex, in co-ordination with The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), Government of India on the 10th October 2017. It brought together SMB-G senior officials as well as representatives from development and knowledge partners including the World Bank, UNICEF, World Health Organisation, WSSCC, 3ie, rice institute, Praxis, Aga Khan Foundation, DevInsights, TARU, NAG-DNT, Public Affairs Centre and the India Sanitation Coalition. The main objectives were to present findings from new timely, relevant and action-orientated research, and to identify gaps and priorities for future rapid investigations with high potential applicability and impact. Read the workshop report

Date: 11 October 2017