Conversion of Dry Latrines and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers
District Administration Budaun- Uttar Pradesh India

The Problem

The problem - open defecation within houses (dry latrines) is a root cause that impinges on the health and wellbeing of the community. People who clean those toilets by removing and carrying human excreta are manual scavengers. Though banned under law, there still exist dry latrines and practice of manual scavenging in many parts of the country. There were around forty five thousand dry latrines in the rural areas of district Badaun. Epidemics such as diarrhea are common in the district. The district has the highest Infant Mortality Rate of 110 (116 in Rural and 120 for Rural Females). In year 2009 the district had highest cases of wild polio viruses in India. Of the 66 High Risk Blocks identified by NPSP- WHO and UNICEF for Polio Eradication, 16 development Blocks are in Badaun District (there are a total of 18 development Blocks in district!). Pervasive dry latrines were identified as primary reasons for all these.
The dry latrines affect society in three major ways. Firstly, it affects users of the dry latrines by exposing them to all types of health hazards, much worse than those caused by open field defecation, especially women and children who are in the house for most of the times in the midst of stinking environment and flies, exacerbated further by delay in cleanliness. From time immemorial they had the history of using the dry latrines in their houses where excreta was laid open till the time manual scavenger lady employed for cleaning the latrine comes and cleans, sometimes this period may extend to two or three days as well. Many times delay in cleaning prevents women, who cannot go for open defecation, from defecating causing various other health problems. Secondly, there are the workers (manual scavengers) who have been assigned with the ‘responsibility’ to clean the human excreta by hands and carry it on head to dumping site. Further, manual scavenging is done by one of the scheduled castes (lowest on Hindu caste hierarchy) known as Balmiki community. In rural India it is women who constitute the majority among manual scavengers. This is one of the worst known employments in human history and memory that directly hits at the dignity of individuals carrying on manual scavenging. The entire family of Manual Scavengers has to go through the dilemma of lifelong self esteem, experience physical and social segregation and even untouchability. Thirdly, it affects people living in the vicinity of houses having dry latrines, because they are also exposed to all types of health hazards. The situation was so bad that many outsiders used to report nausea and sickness after visiting villages having dry latrines.
Dry latrine and consequent manual scavenging constitute a problem that transgresses into the domains of caste and gender; health and occupation; human dignity and freedom; and human rights and social justice. But despite the pervasiveness of this problem there is either complacency or denial for the existence of this problem (on the direction of Honorable Supreme Court in Public Interest Litigation 2003, many state governments were forced to submit affidavits and counter-affidavits). The district administration in Badaun dared to differ and in July 2010 under the leadership of District Magistrate, a consensus was generated that a drive, on mission mode, needs to be undertaken to eradicate forty five thousand odd dry toilets and rehabilitate around 1000 manual scavengers and to give a dignified life to their families.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The initiative, which began in July 2010, is heading towards making district manual scavenging-free, ensuing health, alternative livelihood and more importantly dignity and human freedom irrespective of social trappings. A total of 24,000 dry latrines have been converted to Pour Flush Latrines within a record time of less than 6 months. By mid-December 2010, 125 villages were declared dry latrines-free and the drive continues further with great success in another 200 villages where dry latrines exist. The users of dry latrines and people of villages have themselves felt the extinction of flies that used to be there in their houses and report that their houses and streets no more stink with the foul smell of human excreta. The impact of this on health is very obvious and has historically shifted the paradigm of health and sanitation conditions in those villages.
On the social front this campaign has been able to rehabilitate around 500 manual scavengers and provided various livelihood benefits to them. This positively affected the lives of more than 2000 family members of these manual scavengers. There is also a gender discrimination angle associated with this inhuman practice. All the manual scavengers engaged in this tedious job are females. Thus it may also be termed as the liberation of female manual scavengers engaged in a ‘profession’ that made them untouchables. The District Administration not only just convinced the users of dry latrines to convert to pour flush toilets but also had a clear intention of rehabilitating these manual scavengers.
The District Magistrate has announced that all the manual scavengers should be given the benefits of government schemes and programs. Jobs Cards are given to them so that they can at least avail 100 days of employment guaranteed by a central govt. act and implemented through a scheme called MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment Guarantee Act). They have also been immediately provided with the Red/Blue Ration cards (given to the poorest of poor) that gives them access to subsidized food items. Loans have been sanctioned to some of them for self employment. Through special drive children of manual scavengers have been enrolled in govt. schools and are being provided with special scholarships. This drive of conversion of dry latrines has turned out as a comprehensive umbrella scheme of social security for manual scavengers on the initiative of the District Administration.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The district administration under the leadership of the District Magistrate Mr. Amit Gupta proposed the solution with the Department of Panchayat Raj being the nodal department. As the work progressed many new strategies were included during the course of execution. The task was to say goodbye to unhealthy dry latrines and inhuman practice of Manual Scavenging through a drive for toilets conversion and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
The initiative is a perfect example of working together of all the wings of district administration and convergence of a large number of schemes; no stone was left unturned. Not only the departments were working in full coordination but also the elected representatives at village and block level were involved in the initiative. The agencies like UNICEF played their part by giving technical advice as and when required. The low cost toilet technology is one such contribution that gave impetus to this drive as poor community would not have been able to invest too much into construction of latrines.
District Administration itself was a stakeholder as it was felt that without eliminating dry latrines it was futile to expect any improvement in health indicators. Existence of manual scavenging work was also a cause of embarrassment. Other obvious stakeholders were the manual scavengers themselves and their whole community at large. User of dry latrines and people living in the villages were also natural stakeholders.
The district administration played its part of providing guidelines and converging the efforts and streamlining the resources available. The manual scavengers and the users of dry latrines were motivated through regular public meetings by dedicated team of professionals under the leadership of Mr. R.S Chaudhary, DPRO, who heads the nodal Panchayati Raj (rural self governance) Department. He was also entrusted with the responsibility of the cleanliness drive that took place in the village. Funds were provided under the Total Sanitation Scheme (TSC) run by the Panchayati Raj department. The UN agencies provided the technical inputs needed for the program, especially the design of low cost pour flush toilets and training of the masons on construction of the low cost toilets.
Balmiki sena - the organization of community that performed the manual scavenging, played its part by mobilizing and exerting social pressure on their fellow community members who were still engaged in the practice of manual scavenging. The Education department was to organize meetings with parents and children on the issue and to have rallies in the villages having existence of dry latrines. The Department of Health was entrusted to organize Health Camps and to take Hygiene Education Sessions and inform the community about the ill effects of dry latrines. The Department of Drinking Water was asked to get proper water supply for drinking and household usage in these villages and to repair all hand pumps that need to be repaired as adequate water supply is needed for the pour flush latrines. The District Magistrate also entrusted district level officers with Blocks and made them solely responsible for the progress of the Development Block.
The Departments of Social Welfare, food and civil supplies, rural development, primary education etc. were involved in the task of providing all the benefits of various govt. schemes to rehabilitate manual scavengers.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
There were two objectives of this initiative: (a) Ending the prevalence of Dry Latrines from the district and (b) Ending the practice of Manual Scavenging form the district. Both the objectives are inter related and supplement the other as we reach towards one. To start with various meeting, workshops etc. of govt. officials, employees and elected representatives were organized at various levels to create awareness among them and to motivate them. This was very essential as for many of the lower level functionaries it was very much an acceptable thing and a lot of hard work was required to be put in the campaign.

To achieve the first objective the low cost latrine model was introduced. Incentive money of Rs 1500 was given to Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Poor amongst other families.. To start with some toilets were constructed as model in each village to demonstrate that a basic minimum structure could be built with around Rs 2000, and even less if beneficiary himself contributes as labor. To generate awareness about hygiene and sanitation meetings were organized and to create positive atmosphere for campaign, thorough cleaning of each village was done by deploying 10-15 sweepers from nearby villages. Education department organized meetings with parents and children on the issue and had rallies in the villages having dry latrines. The Department of Health organized Health Camps and took Hygiene Education Sessions and informed the community about the ill effects of dry latrines. Provisions of the act prohibiting dry latrines and manual scavenging were also explained to villagers through meetings and wall writings.
To achieve second objective talks were initiated with the Manual Scavengers, among them three types of sections came to the forefront. The first section was of the people who wanted to get rid of this work but could not do so due to lack of any other employment opportunity. The second wanted to get rid of this work but the people in their villages having dry latrines users forced them to continue. The third was the section that had been into this profession of manual scavenging by birth and this had been their ancestral profession. They did not saw any taboo or any social evil attached to this work. For first section it was decided to immediately give the benefit of the different government schemes so that their dependence on this work could be mitigated. MNREGA job cards were issued to the families of manual scavengers and in order to provide immediate relief, new works were started. The second section was given all administrative and police support. The District Magistrate ordered all Sub Divisional magistrates, that if any person was found restricting any manual scavenger from leaving his job, he should be dealt with very strictly within the existing provisions of law. The clear message from the DM’s desk demoralized any attempt to restrict the manual scavengers from leaving their jobs. The third section was difficult to handle. For them educated person and leaders from their own community were used. They were provided vehicles, posters and other logistic support. They organized social meetings among the community. They even threatened that they would totally boycott the family that was still engaged in manual scavenging and that they would not get into matrimonial relationship with any such family and this brought a real change. They also tried to boost the lost confidence among the manual scavengers. This helped in changing the minds of people who considered this work as the only means of earning their bread.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The District Magistrate after his visit to Village Ramzanpur on 6th July and then meeting with District officials on 7th July ordered the survey of all villages where Manual Scavenging is in practice on 8th July 2010. The initial survey in the district revealed more than 15000 dry latrines in the 73 Gram panchayats, while it was assessed that there could be around 45 thousand dry latrines in the entire district. So on the one hand the district had nearly 50- 60 thousand families using dry latrines and on the other there were the Manual Scavengers more than 2000 families that were entirely based on this profession. And thus, the task was to convince both the dry latrine users and the Manual Scavengers.
It was difficult for the district level officers and the Block Development Officers (BDOs) to reach each and every village and motivate community so the District Magistrate ordered the identification and training of village motivators for each such village where the conversion drive has been initiated. By the month of August all such villages where the conversion drive had been initiated was having two or three village motivators from the same villages. Similarly Block Motivators were also appointed and UNICEF responded to the need of Block Motivators by providing them a honorarium of Rs. 5000 per month for their movement.
A series of meetings, rallies, health camps, cleanliness drives were held from 9th July onwards and initially 78 villages were taken in what was termed as the Phase 1 of the conversion drive. BY the end of July 2010 more than 4000 dry latrines were converted and 60 manual scavengers were rescued. By the end of August 8000 dry latrines were converted and 100 manual scavengers were rescued. Similarly by the end of September 14000 latrines were converted and 200 manual scavengers were rescued. By the end of October 18000 dry latrines were converted and 325 manual scavengers were rescued. And by mid-December 2010 a total of 24000 dry latrines were converted and 500 manual scavengers were rescued. The work is in progress at the full swing. The process of conversion of dry latrines is going on and with this the liberation of the female folk engaged in manual scavenging is simultaneously taking place.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It was not an easy task to get the community motivated for the conversion of the dry latrines. A series of meetings that exceeds more than a hundred were held with the community chaired by a district level officer or the BDO or SDM. The first question of the community at majority of the places was regarding the need of the pour flush toilets. Second question that was raised was regarding the high cost needed to convert the dry latrines, but when the low cost model was built and shown to them in one or two places then only they got convinced of the possibility of converting the dry latrine within the minimum amount of Rs. 2000. There were also doubts about the longevity of small pits. People were skeptical that it would fill quite early. They were informed that the pit would last 5-7 years due to bacterial decomposition. The best part of this conversion drive is that there is 100% usage of all the toilets that were converted in the villages. And this could be made possible only by the community involvement that was ensured before initiating the conversion work in the district.
The second obstacle was from the Manual Scavengers those were not ready to leave their age old profession. They were skeptical of the promises made by the government and that it takes much time to get proceedings done by the government. They were convinced by providing them with immediate relief as discussed in detail above. The men folk of the manual scavengers are not habitual to work and they live on the earnings of their females and thus they showed a great resistance and even threatened their wives with dire consequences if they would leave this job of manual scavenging. A major task was done by the posters that were developed and displayed at these villages urging the Manual Scavengers to discard this work. The Balmiki Sena leaders who joined the program also played a positive role in convincing the people engaged in manual scavenging.
At times, in some villages users of dry latrines protested through demonstrations etc because their toilets could not be cleaned as scavengers had stopped working. But they were dealt firmly and at the same time they were also convinced about the program.
The other obstacle was from the officers involved. Though majority of the staff had been very positive towards the entire program, others were motivated through regular monitoring and appreciation given in open meetings to officers who were working hard to achieve their targets. Pictures of such officers doing their work in the field were also displayed in the presentations for review meetings.
As the construction work progressed, shortage of trained masons was felt. Masons from nearby villages were mobilized and large number of training programs were held to overcome the shortfall. Individual beneficiary was not in a position to go to markets which were sometimes very far away to purchase small amount of materials required for construction. All sorts of material such as bricks, cement, and sand were made available through government machinery in the villages to tackle the problem.
The last but the most important was the arrangement of funds, as initially funds for incentive money were available for only around 6000 toilets. It was found that part of funds released under TSC to various village Panchayats during the last 5 years were unutilized. Such villages were identified and funds were reallocated. Thus an amount of around Rs 15 million was recovered which was hitherto not even known to not have been spent.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
In the first phase there were more than 16000 dry latrines to be converted in 78 identified villages and at the district level there was fund adequate enough only to support the conversion of 6000 toilets. The funds that were lying unused in the village Panchayats’ accounts for years were brought back by the District Magistrate amounted to 15 million rupees and now the district had enough amount to take the conversion drive in full swing.
Government functionaries and other people having knowledge about the subject and good communication skills were used to address public gatherings and motivate people.
For the successful implementation of the program it was essential to have a set of workers matching the government structure. For this at the Block level and at Village level the motivators were appointed. Usually there is a delayed payment to the motivators and thus it makes them lenient towards the cause. So in order to make payments available for the village motivators an amount matching to their honorarium was transferred to the accounts and the Village Secretary and the Gram Pradhan were told to pay the amount instantly to the motivators. Payments to motivators gave required pace to the program. The financial help of rupees 5000 per month by UNICEF in the form of honorarium to Block motivators also helped a lot. Trainings were also conducted for Village motivators and the gram Pradhans from the district.
The resources available in the district played an important role in the effective monitoring of the program. The District Magistrate spared one of his Personal Assistants fully to get reports from the district officials. The three desktops and four laptops available in the DPRO’s office helped in imparting the information timely and compiling the achievements and its reports. All the assistants in the office of the District Panchayat Raj Office were computer literate which helped a lot. A blog was created which gave daily updates of ongoing activities.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
A large number of dry latrines still exist in many parts of India. The initiative is sustainable and transferable both because Total Sanitation Campaign which is a national flagship program of Government of India has been the focal point of this. Major components of initiative are taken from various government schemes which are there in every district. Further there is people’s participation in the drive. Confidence building and rehabilitation of rescued manual scavengers has been superb and that is probably the reason that now the initiative is demand-driven. Both the manual scavengers and common village people are coming up to ask when the drive would start in their village.
The most important is that with the introduction of the Low cost toilet technology by the support of Unicef had made this initiative possible to a large extent. Poor people who could not afford for a square meal were hesitant to go for an unexpected expenditure on toilet. But the low cost model came to their rescue and only with the money they would have paid in 3-4 years for cleaning the dry latrines they can now get a toilet that will work for them. The Total Sanitation Campaign has a provision of incentive for the people living below the poverty line. There is also the provision for poor people those are not included in BPL list, to the extent of 10% of the total beneficiaries. It is noted that once the process of constructing pour flush latrines start than householders do not hesitate in investing the money on it despite their financial constraints.
As regards the amalgamation of those leaving the job of manual scavengers with the rest of the society,it is definitely a time taking process. But there have been instances in the period of just six months where community has offered them with cultivation works and other jobs as well. NREGA has also acted well to bring about equality among the community by providing labor work to all irrespective of caste or gender. The relief on the faces of women is quite obvious and the children are now enthused with self esteem that is worth noticeable.
The news that the district had made by its efforts in the local and the national media had again given rounds of discussion among the development workers and the government as well [ see The Hindu, 22 November; The Citizens News Service;]. The national media coverage of the conversion drive of dry latrines surprised and motivated social work academia and researchers in Delhi University and Aligarh Muslim University (Central Universities in India) who later on conducted an independent empirical study on the subject (December 2010). There have been communications from the other districts with the district officials of Budaun regarding the implementation of the program.
The replication of the model is not a tough task; it just needs a commitment from the district head i.e. the District Magistrate to acknowledge the issue of dry latrines being prevalent. The Total Sanitation Campaign has got enough resources to cover up the Information-Education-Communication expenditure and the cost of incentive money for poor beneficiaries. The other livelihood benefits and social security measures already exist in the form of various government schemes, for the rehabilitation of the manual scavengers. The only need is to get the intent of doing something positive for the community that has been languishing under the yoke of manual scavenging.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The initiative 'Conversion of Dry Latrines and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers' outlined the tremendous impact of the toilet conversion on lives of individuals, families and villages as whole. It was a stalk reality that these villages used to be flooded with flies when dry toilets were hallmark of the villages. The women particularly reported that they got rid from round the clock stinking. It was particularly difficult during cooking and problem used to exacerbate if the manual scavenger did not turn up even for a single day. They also shared that now it does not look nice to have such dry toilets in the house. To measure and analyze the impact on epidemics that were common to Budaun district, an epidemiological study would probably best explain the linkages of this conversion drive and outbreak of the disease and epidemic. Though as a recognition of the efforts, six villages have been nominated for the prestigious Nirmal Gram Award by Honorable President of India under the Total Sanitation Campaign for exemplary sanitary villages.
The process of dry toilets conversion and the rescue and rehabilitation of manual scavengers proceeded also simultaneously. The drive had a mix of strategies from IEC activities to actual conversion of dry toilets. And the parallel process for the motivation and confidence building of manual scavengers was undertaken so that they come out of the inhuman practice of manual scavenging and are not relapsed back to manual scavenging. As result of the drive in Badaun district, till mid December 2010, more than 500 manual scavengers have been rescued and rehabilitated. The Balmiki women who had been bearing the brunt of manual scavenging, are now highly vociferous in arguing that come what may come they are not going again into this inhuman practice nor are they going to allow anybody in the village to do manual scavenging.
The key elements that make this initiative a success are a mix of strategies used for converting the dry latrines and rehabilitation of manual scavengers. Phase- wise execution of drive in identified villages after the survey worked well as it ensured focus on specific villages in small numbers. Identification and training of masons for low cost model of pour flush toilets was also a great support. Sensitization of district and block officials and Orientation of Block & Village Motivators also had a great contribution. Daily reporting on the progress made to District headquarters and monthly consolidated summary ensured tight vigil on progress and didn’t let loose the momentum.
Convincing Families for toilet conversion from dry toilets to pour flush toilets and motivating people to convert toilets without waiting for government subsidy of Rs 1500 was another strategy. Stories were shared of Pour Flush Latrines over the unbearable stench and unhygenic conditions in the houses because of service latrines.
Alternative avenues for rescued Manual Scavengers and successfully linking them with other welafre programs (MNREGA, SCP, BPL, Antodaya, Mahamaya Awas) and schemes (Old age pension, widow pension, additional scholarship to children). Burning of the wicker baskets used to collect excreta was marked as liberation from manual scavenging. Other viable and appealing Alternatives: facilitating training for small enterprises like goatry, embroidery also worked as motivator for those engaged in manual scavenging. Last but not the least was the motivation that was provided by the personal comments and motivational words of the District Magistrate to all those engaged in this drive.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   District Administration Budaun- Uttar Pradesh India
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Amit Gupta
Title:   District Magistrate- Budaun  
Telephone/ Fax:   00915832268301
Institution's / Project's Website:   00915832269306
Address:   District Magistrate- Budaun, Collector's Office, Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, India
Postal Code:   243601
City:   Budaun
State/Province:   Uttar Pradesh
Country:   India

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