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Researchers and practitioners aim at sanitation policy reform

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 13:20

Stranded villagers walking to register for aid in their local authority after the floods in Bihar in 2008 which affected over 2.3 million people. Photo: EC/ECHO/Malini Morzaria

New funding boosts research on sustainable sanitation in flooded areas in India.

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The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has granted SEI 3.9 million SEK for a three-year project on sustainable sanitation research, living examples and communications in India.

In collaboration with the WASH Institute in India, SEI will focus on sustainable sanitation in flooded areas in the Indian state Bihar.

Local implementation with global implications
Although the project is state-focused the results are likely to be of global relevance since there is limited knowledge on how to provide sustainable sanitation services in flooded areas.

“This project will raise awareness of a problem that silently affects millions of individuals, be it regular floods every year or catastrophes that come with unexpected torrential flooding,” says SEI’s project leader Cecilia Ruben.

Flooding and the sanitation-related issues that come with it strongly affect the most vulnerable individuals, children under five, the disabled, elderly and child-bearing women, through diarrheal diseases. High rates of morbidity and mortality are caused by uncontained faeces that contaminate drinking water and food.

Research matches national sanitation campaign
“Improving the sanitation systems in Bihar is of vital importance, if we are to reduce human vulnerability in this annually flooded state,” says Ruben.

This can be accomplished by dovetailing the new possibilities offered under the all-India Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) and its recently amended Guidelines with improved knowledge, technologies and capacity development concerning sanitation in flooded areas.

More than half of the world’s open defecators are found in India, annually causing the death 387 000 children under five.

One of the key efforts by the Indian Government to curb this alarming situation is the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) to ultimately eradicate the practice of open defecation.

SEI, in collaboration with UNICEF-India, has facilitated the inclusion of the ecological sanitation component into the TSC Guidelines, paving the way for a nationwide implementation of more sustainable sanitation services.
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