Sanitation and community culture are interlinked. To attain positive sustainable sanitation practices by community we need to understand community culture in the context of defecation, clean environment and personal hygiene practices. Values, attitude, assumptions, behaviour, and belief’s people share about themselves and others and about the natural world they live, make up community culture. According to Census 2011, 71.59% of the rural population in Karnataka is dependent on open spaces for defecation. Over the years the Government of India along with the many international organizations have made efforts to bring about changes in rural communities by improving sanitation services through various projects, but the achievements are not up to the mark. This is because human factors related to social, economic, cultural, political and ecological determinants of health which also impact on sanitation practices are not understood.
In this context SOCHARA, Bangalore unit organised a National level workshop on Community Culture and Sanitation on 23.07.2015 and 24.07.2015 at SOCHARA annex Bangalore.
Objectives of the workshop
The Agenda for the Workshop was as follows
The two-day workshop entailed presentations and discussions that highlighted various aspects of addressing sanitation in both rural and urban environments. Various resource persons and participants actively shared their experiences and raised some important points for further discussion. This article summarises the workshop proceedings using some excerpts from the detailed report on the Workshop; the latter can be accessed through SOCHARA.
Session 1: - Experience on Sanitation in Cambodia – Mr. Sam Joseph
Sam Joseph focused on bringing community culture and acceptability of interventions into perspective. He shared his experience in establishing the underlying causes of CLTS failure through a project by GSF (Global Sanitation Fund), in Cambodia.
Session 2: - Sharing Activities on Water and Sanitation – District partners
Various District partners came forward to share about their work and field experiences in addressing sanitation issues across various regions of the country. These included SPAD – Bangalore Urban, SOCHARA – CEU – Tamil Nadu, DEEPS – Dharmapuri, Vimukthi – Belgaum, Vimukthi – Raichur, People’s Organisation - Davangere, Community Social Action - Christ University, Myrada – Gulbarga.
Session 3 :- Koppal Environmental sanitation work experience by Mr.Janaradhan Hulgi
Session 4: Culture and Development – Mr. Shankar
Mr. Shankar stated that he is not a historian to tell any history but is instead an activist. He shared how he saw the growth/evolution of culture from time to time from his own understanding and how the development was seen from its nature/characteristics. He presented on “Culture and Development “.
Session 5:- Community Culture and Sanitation – Mr. Prahlad I M
Mr. Prahlad presented on the Toilet cultures. He mentioned that there is culture even in sanitation. He also explained the evolution of sanitation through the ‘Sanitation ladder’ from the dry latrines of the earlier days to modern day flush toilets. He also talked about how the caste dimension of the earlier day dry latrines which were cleaned by the lower caste people (manual scavenging). He also highlighted the culture of the non-usage of constructed toilets and showed an image of a toilet being used as a ‘Puja room’!
Session 6 :- Exploratory study - Mr. Kumar
This was followed by the presentation of the study on culture of toilets done by Amarendra, a CHLP fellow. The study was conducted in Bachchaw village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh between September and November of 2014. This was an exploratory study on the sanitation practices and their cultures. Amarendra provided a definition of culture as defined by the 5 aspects of Values, attitudes, assumptions, beliefs and behaviours. The study was with a sample of mothers of children under 5 years in the community for their sanitation practices and evaluated on the 5 aspects. Amarendra had trained a female assistant to ask questions to the women in the community. The quantitative findings of the study were then shared with the participants.
Session 7:- Sustainable Sanitation – Ms. Janelle de Sa
Janelle De Sa Fernandes, a team member of SOCHARA then presented on the concept of sustainable sanitation. She presented the concept of ‘sanitation beyond toilets’ into wastewater treatment. She provided for the definition of sustainability. She highlighted the conventional wastewater treatment methods and its disadvantages. She then presented the Duckweed based wastewater treatment and the sustainability aspects of it both from an environmental angle as well as from a livelihood angle. She then showed a video of the work done in Mirzapur by an organization called Prism which has tied up duckweed cultivation on wastewater for water purification as well as for fish rearing. She then proposed that this could be thought of as one concrete action plan that could come out of the sanitation workshop.
Session: - 8 Plan of Action by team
This session entailed a Group exercise for developing a plan of action on the new paradigm.
Plenary of the group work
As requested the participants has been divided into 3 groups to prepare a plan
POA – Tamil Nadu: Based on Swacch Bharat guidelines
POA for Bangalore Urban: Work with the community and empower them since the public systems are fragmented and corrupt. Two major issues were discussed and plan of action was prepared according to that.
POA for Rural Karnataka
Action points discussed and agreed by the team