Daliya Jalao: Liberating Manual Scavengers and Moving Towards Total Sanitation
District Administration- Budaun, U.P. India

The Problem

The initiative reflects conviction and commitment to cause of social justice and a model for district planning. The Initiative has been one that people from more than 500 villages were looking for centuries.
The carrying of human excreta on the head after cleaning the dry latrines, is the abiding image of a manual scavenger. This is an obnoxious and degrading occupation, which the manual scavengers themselves despise, but due to socio-economic and cultural entrapping feel helpless and trapped into.
Despite being banned by a Parliament legislation, The Employment of Manual Scavengers & Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993 and honorable Supreme Court ruling (in Public Interest Litigation 2003 Writ Petition (Civil) No. 583/2003 Safai Karamchari Andolan and 14 Other Organizations Vs. Union of India and Others) the practice is still continuing mainly because:
• Incomplete Rehabilitation focusing only on employment
• There has been little or no effort in psychologically liberating Manual Scavengers
• Lack of effort for social inclusion of Manual Scavengers
• No focus on conversion of dry toilets in rural areas
• Most importantly blatant denial of the existence of the practice in recent years :“They are not there”
Manual scavenging is done by one of the scheduled castes known as Balmiki community and worse, among them by women including minor girls. The practice is detrimental to the health, human dignity and freedom of manual scavengers and their families and has serious bearing on their life span. A source of livelihood which affects either the quality of life or the longevity is nothing but a cause of structural violence which it is noted ”may contribute to more wastage of human life than extreme forms of violence including wars and genocides”(Galtung and Hoivik, 1971). This is one of the worst known employments in human history and memory that directly hits at the dignity of individuals. The entire family of Manual Scavenger has to go through the dilemma of lifelong low self esteem, experience physical and social segregation and even untouchability.
Dry latrines affect its users by exposing them to all types of diseases and health hazards, specially caused by feaco-oral route, and much worse than those caused by open field defecation. Especially they affect 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. Excreta lie 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 a times delay in cleaning prevents women, who cannot go for open field defecation, from defecating causing various other health problems. They also affect 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 large number of dry latrines. As a result of all these frequent epidemics such as of diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, gastroenteritis, typhoid, and intestinal worms were common in district Budaun. The district has the highest Infant Mortality Rate of 110 (116 for Total Rural and 120 for Rural Females) in Uttar Pradesh. In year 2009 the district had highest cases of wild polio viruses in India. Of the 66 High Risk Blocks identified by WHO and UNICEF for Polio Eradication, 16 development Blocks were in Badaun District (there are a total of 18 development Blocks in district!).

Thus dry latrines 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 and it is impossible to attain the Millennium Development Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 without addressing the issue.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
With the liberation of 2750 Manual Scavengers, the district is now free from the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. These manual scavengers, their children and family members have been successfully linked to government schemes and programs, and have also engaged in alternative trades like mason work; other skilled labour works; buffalo keeping for which loans and training were imparted. Their children have been enrolled in school and given special scholarship. Initiative has contributed in recovering the ‘Agency’ of liberated manual scavengers’ especially female manual scavengers. They are vociferous in arguing No to manual scavenging and are thankful to district administration in convincing and making them feel that they can quit manual scavenging. Today these women are proactively working with Balmiki Sena to motivate manual scavengers in other districts to quit this inhuman occupation. They have made Dalia Jalao- Burning the baskets as a representative of a counter-hegemony strategy.

In a span of one year the Initiative has been successful in removing the existing 50000 dry toilets and converting them into Pour Flush latrines with 100% usage. The users of dry latrines and people of villages are feeling 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.
Before the start of campaign nobody was ready to build toilet with the government support of Rs.1500. But as a result of campaign now anybody is ready if he or she gets Rs. 1500 support. This is evident from the fact that Rs.15 Million released earlier to villagers remained unutilized for 3-4 years were now used fully and there was shortage of funds.

During the campaign approximately 7,000 village level government functionaries have constructed their own toilet. They set example for other villagers and generated positive atmosphere for the elimination of open defecation.
There has been no polio case in the District since Feb 2010 as compared to 52 in the year 2009. Reports have provided that there is a sharp decline in the epidemics in the villages this year.
The initiative has also contributed in identifying the actual beneficiaries of government schemes and services and in ensuring that these services reach the actual beneficiaries on time and at their doorstep. This is evident from both the proactive rehabilitation of manual scavenger and beneficiaries’ selection and money distribution to them under Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in open meeting. For another example, over 1300 Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Antyodaya cards of ineligible people were cancelled and given to deserving scavengers.
Participatory approach has contributed in the capacity building of masses to raise their voice and get their due entitlements. The initiative has proved that participatory approach works and yields more results. It has set an example of participatory and convergent district planning.

The impact has been measured, verified and crosschecked through surveys and stake holders meetings by district administration, Delhi university team, International Institute of Health Management Research, New Delhi, UNICEF and local and national media.

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 as the nodal department. The initiative is a perfect example of working together of all the wings of district administration and convergence of a large number of schemes. 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 government schemes to rehabilitate manual scavengers. Not only the departments were working in full coordination but also the elected representatives at village and block level were involved in the initiative. As the work progressed many new strategies were included during the course of execution. The agencies like UNICEF played their part by giving technical advice as and when required.
Most important stakeholder were people engaged in manual scavenging. Among Manual Scavengers there were mainly three types of groups. Some were forced to take this work due to lack of any other employment opportunity, some wanted to get rid of this but the people in their villages having dry latrine forced them to continue and some others did not saw any taboo or any social evil attached to this work. 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 strategy of District Administration to mark the ending of manual scavenging in villages with burning of wicker basket of manual scavengers (Dalyia Jalao) became the hallmark of the drive. And in a few months there were demands from the manual scavenger women about the date when Daliya Jalao would take place in their villages. Working of people from scavenging community as masons in toilet construction made them their own change agent. Thus the participatory approach made the initiative self reinforcing.

Next important stakeholders were users of dry latrine. When told about the ill effect of dry latrine they were more than happy to come forward and convert their toilet. Many of them invested 5-10 thousand rupees to construct their toilet. Panchayat representatives also participated actively in eliminating dry latrine from their villages. Other villagers were also very supportive as having dry latrine in nearby home cause health problems to them also. Village level government functionaries became active participants by constructing toilets in their homes and in their friend’s & relative’s homes.

(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.
Initiative began putting Toilet on District agenda using participatory and multi-layered strategy. On one hand focus was on conversion of dry latrines to help tame the problem of manual scavenging, and on the other hand rehabilitating manual scavengers to push people to convert their dry latrines.

Team Building: The strength of the Initiative rested on the intensive deliberations and informed decision making among the district, tehsil, block and village level officials and workers. Teams for each tehsil and block were formed with district level officials as nodal officers. Village level teams were constituted with village pradhan & Panchayat Sachiv as leader and BDC member, school teachers, shiksha mitra, ANM, Anganwadi worker, ASHA, etc as key members. As rule village team members were required to construct pour flush latrines in their houses and set examples for others. Village pradhans and other team members doing good work were honored in open meetings to motivate others.

Awareness Meetings in Villages: Workshops and more than 500 village level meetings at the block level were conducted under the leadership of District Magistrate & CDO to orient the masses on the ill effects of dry latrines and other issues of health, hygiene and sanitation as also of the legal implications and penalties of having dry toilets and engaging manual scavengers.

Manual Scavengers and Daliya Jalao (Burning of Baskets): The section of Manual Scavengers that wanted to remain associated with this profession of its own will, was difficult to handle. Several meetings by district officials and by influential people from Balmiki community were held to mobilize them. The posters developed by Balmiki community were got printed and pasted. It was utmost important was to counter the hegemony and destroy the legitimacy that the society has given to manual scavenging through centuries of oppression. Therefore the wicker baskets and brooms which are used to collect and carry human excreta and are the primary symbols of slavery and the mark of scavenger’s identity were burnt it in front of everybody. It ended their century long bondage with scavenging work and released then not only physically but also psychologically. Soon it became mark of liberation of manual scavengers and a symbol of final NO to Manual Scavenging. Demand from other villages and even other districts started coming for organizing ‘Daliya Jalao’.
Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers: Employment in other occupations though is important in rehabilitation but countering the hegemony and recovering the ‘Agency’ are even more important. There has to be a rehabilitation package that not only assimilates ‘them’ into the main stream but also creates avenues of social inclusion. They were given benefits of various schemes such as loaning schemes, Employment scheme (MNREGA), public distribution (TPDS), pension schemes, Rural housing schemes and skill up-gradation training. Children of manual scavengers were enrolled in the schools and besides education was also ensured to have mid day meal with other caste children. They were given special scholarship @ of Rs 1850, not given till now merely because of denial of existence of scavenging work. The loans meant for Buffalo keeping were also provided and was ensured that the milk from the hands of a Balmiki shall not be denied access to the market. MNREGA job cards were given and new works were started to provide employment. It also brought them at par with other ‘upper castes’ as they did the same work at the same work site. Health camps were also organized for scavengers to treat them for skin and other diseases caused as the result of this work. Two components were deliberately introduced into the package of rehabilitation one was the provision of flush toilets in houses of manual scavengers and another training them as masons which not only ensured a benefit for them but also ensured that they were their own change agents.

(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 2010 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 25 thousand dry latrines in the entire district. It took more than three months to complete the survey of nearly 1800 villages of the district. On one hand the district had nearly 50 thousand families using dry latrines and on the other there were the Manual Scavengers around 2750 families that were entirely based on this profession. And thus, the task was to convince both the dry latrine users and the Manual Scavengers. Work was started immediately after initial survey without waiting for finalizing survey.
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. 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 were 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.
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 25000 dry latrines were converted and 1800 manual scavengers were rescued. The July 2011 witnessed 2750 rehabilitated manual scavengers with 50,000 dry latrines converted to pour flush latrines. The process of conversion of dry latrines helped the liberation of the female folk engaged in manual scavenging and thus one process stimulated the other.

Initially dry latrine users of whole village were given incentive of Rs 1500, irrespective of whether they are APL or BPL. But the money available for APL as target was limited so after a time and in most of the villages only BPL could be provided incentive. After the initial success strategy had to be redesigned because of this fact. There was resentment because in a village everybody demanded money and pace of campaign slowed down. To overcome this many new strategies were adopted and a lot of hard work was put in. Massive IEC campaign was launched and large numbers of meetings were organized at this time to give pace to the program. Members of village level team were used extensively and effectively. Among Above Poverty Line (APL) richer ones were approached individually. They together with the government functionaries including village level team members, people associated with government system and their relatives living in the village were the ones, which were identified as the first target group to launch the program in the village. As a second step influential people and village level functionaries were given a target to convince a certain number of people of their choice. Influential Pradhans were identified and they were motivated to carry campaign on their own in their villages so that senior officers could focus on other villages. Some rich Pradhans and other people were motivated to distribute toilet seats to encourage people.

(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 Block Development Officer (BDO) or Sub Divisional Magistrate (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
Low Cost Latrine Model: Super structure of the existing dry toilets was used. Acceptance of small pit toilet was made by convincing villagers about longevity of small pits. Material required for construction was arranged in village itself so as to reduce hassles and extra cost required in going and buying in small quantity. 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 labour. This convinced the people that by an investment of Rs 2000 or less they could liberate themselves from stinking toilets and also contribute in the liberation of manual scavengers from this inhuman occupation. In a village people who opted for conversion in the starting automatically became the messenger of the benefits of pour flush toilet and gave boost to the drive.
Fund management: 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 and given to the BPL families at earlier rate of Rs.1500 under TSC, which was hitherto not even known to not have been spent
Parallel Support Structure: 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 using the TSC guidelines. 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 Secretaries and the Gram Pradhans 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 from the district. Heavy floods affected large part of district in the month of September, not seen in last 50 years. Panchayat elections lasting for around 3 months also took place in the drive period. Such events involved whole government staff and in such period the parallel structure was the one, which did not allow the pace of campaign to die down.
Arrangement of trained masons: The quantum of work was so high that when the work was in full flow the shortage of trained masons was felt, as the construction of a large number of toilets started simultaneously. Masons from nearby villages were mobilized and large number of training programs were held to overcome the shortfall. In some villages family members of the manual scavengers were trained which served additional purpose of providing employment to them. Moreover, with this initiative now manual scavengers were themselves contributing in eradication of dry latrines.

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. The strength of replicability also lies in the fact that available government machinery, infrastructure, programs and services are sufficient enough to engineer the process of dry toilets conversion and liberation of manual scavengers. Only a push is awaited. Districts not having dry toilets are replicating it as a campaign to achieve the goals of total sanitation. Learning from Budaun experience districts such as Gautam Budhh Nagar, Gaziabad, Firozabad, Pilibhit, Farrukhabad etc. have started the program and some other are in the process of doing so. The campaign for sanitation has attracted attention of other states also as is evident from the fact that officials from district were called in workshop organized for eliminating polio in the state of West Bengal. District Magistrate was also invited to share the model in WSSCC Global Forum on Hygiene and Sanitation. The initiative also demonstrates that if the strength of government machinery channelized properly, available at the village level in the form of village level workers and the fact that they are from the village and part of village level community, district administration can become a change agent in any field.

The Initiative has inbuilt sustainability. First the dry toilets are eliminated from the districts. Former dry toilet users, now using pour flush toilets are themselves feeling liberated. Manual Scavengers are completed liberated from the inhuman practice of manual scavenging and linked to government schemes, programs and services and have also been provided alternative trades through trainings and loans. Most importantly the participatory approach of initiative has contributed in the recovering the lost ‘Agency’ of liberated manual scavenger women and during the campaign itself they became strongly committed that neither they will do manual scavenging not allow anybody else in the village to do it. Today they are the great advocates of ‘Dalia Jalao’ in other districts. the amalgamation of those leaving the job of manual scavengers with the rest of the society has taken place at an unbelievable pace. In the period of just six months community has offered them with cultivation works and other jobs as well.

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 http://www.citizen-news.org/2010/08/manual-scavenging-to-be-flushed-away.html;]. 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.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The foremost thing that makes this initiative distinctively a success is that the District Budaun dared to differ and acknowledge the prevalence of Manual Scavenging which many other districts simply deny. The issue of dry latrine and manual scavenging of such a large scale was very ticklish to handle. Stopping Manual Scavenging abruptly leads to large scale resistance from dry latrine users and manual scavengers demand work therefore it required determination to start working on the issue. The next important thing was to review the previous efforts of rehabilitation of manual scavengers in country over a period of time and analyzing as to why these efforts could not bore results. The previous efforts of rehabilitation only focused on providing loan to the manual scavengers but this time complete rehabilitation package with components of social inclusion was provided at doorsteps. Daliya Jalao was used as counter hegemony strategy. Lot of work was done towards recovering ‘Agency’ of manual scavengers. Toilets were provided in scavengers homes and they were also trained for construction of conversion of dry toilets to make them active participant in the change. Budaun initiative also focused on creating awareness among people on both health and legal issues.
Success could be achieved by educating and using around 10,000 village level government functionaries which are from the village level community itself, thus forming a big team and thereby ensuring community participation. This also gives a lesson that any social transformation is possible using these village level functionaries as they can not only be easily educated and used by government officials but also they are from community itself and most of the times they are the influential one within the community.

The success of the Initiative lies in the multi-pronged strategy involving all stakeholders from top and bottom, which was contingent to strong Teamwork and Team spirit. In villages where there used to be large-scale resistance senior officers including DM used to go to convince people. It is here that the district officers have shown the proven qualities of an exemplar-developing and leading towards conclusive end and leading a highly dedicated and motivated team from district level to village level workers; from professionals to Gram Panchayat and civil society representatives; from manual scavengers to users of dry toilets. A free flow chain of communication was developed and stakeholders accessible to each other for the mission of making district manual scavenging free. District Magistrate had ensured the daily assessment of progress by e-mails, every evening and over that used to discuss telephonically with BDOs. Regular meeting with district level officials SDM(s), BDO(s) were held to review progress, remove obstacles and impart new and innovative ideas. The parallel structure of village and block motivators created during the process also helped a lot in attaining the village wise targets and daily reporting of the progress. Extensive field visits were done to check the effectiveness of strategies planned and also to get innovative ideas. WHO, UNICEF, Media and peoples representatives were used as independent source of feedback. As was necessary in such a voluminous work, any shortcoming brought to notice was immediately rectified and mid course correction was done as and when required.
Last but not the least was the motivation of government machinery by the District Magistrate stating this is a life time opportunity where everyone in the district has a chance to be a part of a very noble cause of liberating the manual scavengers from this drudgery.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   District Administration- Budaun, U.P. India
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Amit Gupta
Title:   District Magistrate  
Telephone/ Fax:   +91-1342-262465
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   amitgwalior@yahoo.co.in  
Address:   DM Residence, Civil Lines, Bijnore
Postal Code:   246701
City:   Bijnore
State/Province:   Uttar Pradesh
Country:   India

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