Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ fails to promote sanitation in India. The private or domestic decisions vis-à-vis sanitation, produce negative externalities at the individual and collective levels, consequently, explaining the need for state intervention. In post-colonial India, sanitation has been a public concern since the 1980’s, but the most significant breach is the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) which was launched in 1999. The limited impact of this scheme led to a research agenda to explore the efficiency of the policy by examining factors such as good governance, devolution of funds and participatory development. The literature focuses on supply driven model to ensure provision of sanitation by the state on one hand and on the other hand, it highlights the determinants of the sanitation demand that have gained visibility with community led programs that reject monetary subsidies and focus on awareness and education.
Although economic terms prevail in the media, political and scientific debates, little attention is paid to the nature of sanitation as an economic good. It is yet a fundamental preliminary question that shapes the sanitation outcomes and helps to understand the behavior of all the actors involved. No theoretical framework is immediately adaptable to describe sanitation and its price. In fact, the main vector of information in Economics, is an unknown variable as there is no proper market. Based on the review of literature and close examination of several datasets [India Human Development Survey (IHDS), Census, National family Health Survey-III (NFHS-III), Sanitation Quality, Use, Access and Trends (SQUAT) survey], three major characteristics of sanitation in India have been identified. This talk will explore questions pertaining to the need of sanitation, what it produces and the process that relates a biologic imperative and the environment circumscribe a multi-dimensional scape.
The following micro-economic frameworks that capture this hybridity and fits Indian sanitation’s stylised facts will be discussed:
- The health care model (Grossman 1972; Hurley 2000) that emphasises on the interaction between individual behavior and professionals through the channel of information.
- The network good model (Klemperer 2008) as sanitation comprehends individual and collective infrastructures.
This approach is not incompatible with local or more specific analysis. In fact, the perceived “singularity” (Karpik 2007) of sanitation related to local contexts in reality shares a common theoretical characteristic, that is, a tremendous variety in the technologies that can be used along the sanitation process. However, the current monitoring framework fails to capture the entire “chain”, and thus underestimates the impact on health and environmental outcomes at both, macro and micro levels. Outside empirical development issues, the technological array echoes a general paradigm in social policies focusing purely on how to enable the poor to access adequate services (Mitlin 2014) and preserve the liberty of choice (Dworkin 1988).
Chloé Leclère is a PhD Scholar in Economics at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon in France. Her research focuses on sanitation policies in India and explores the specificities related to evaluation of social programmes. She is a member of the research laboratory- Groupe d’Analyse et Théorie Economique Lyon-Saint Etienne in France. She is also affiliated with the Center for Social and Human sciences (CNRS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in New Delhi where she is conducting several projects on poverty alleviation in India. She is a former Teaching Fellow at the ENS de Lyon. She holds a Master’s degree in Economic Analysis and Policies from Paris School of Economics in France and another Master’s in Social Sciences from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France.
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CORP Seminar Series
This is the 12th in the series of the Community of Research and Practice (CORP) seminar planned by the Scaling City Institutions for India: Sanitation (SCI-FI: Sanitation) initiative. This seminar series aims to provide a platform for discussing the experiences of the researchers and practitioners on urban sanitation. Through these discussions, the sanitation initiative intends to build a stronger evidence base for developing policies, programmes and implementation of plans for achieving sanitised cities.