Policy Engagements and Blogs


On the occasion of 2nd October, celebrated as Swachh Bharat Diwas, the Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI): Sanitation initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is launching the ‘Sanitation Insights at CPR’ series. The series is a deep-dive into the sanitation landscape of India, highlighting various aspects from key challenges to progress made, through a series of webinars.

All webinars can be found below:

[WATCH]: SCI-FI Programme at CPR: Reflections and Way Forward
In the first webinar of the series (above), Shubhagato Dasgupta sheds light on the research agenda and work of the SCI-FI programme, which focuses on two broad themes of (i) land planning and housing; and (ii) sanitation and drinking water. Dasgupta highlights the various activities of the Programme, ranging from academic research, policy support to policy and programme analysis, and capacity strengthening. He also analyses the Indian sanitation sector, studying the main concerns in the evolution of the sanitation policy and the status of urban sanitation.

[WATCH]: Private Sector Participation in Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Service Delivery
In the second webinar of the series, Anindita Mukherjee sheds light on private sector participation in FSM service delivery, highlighting the business case in FSM and the demand and supply factors that drive the FSM market. Mukherjee points that while the large-scale construction of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has created the potential for a massive increase in the FSM market, we currently lack a complete understanding of risks and risk allocation methods.

[WATCH]: Sanitation in Large and Dense Villages of India: The Last Mile and Beyond
​In the third webinar of the series, Aditya Bhol discusses the methodology and findings of a study on sanitation in large and dense villages (LDVs) in India. Through an analysis of an earlier study of identification of LDVs and a recent white paper on findings of a rural survey of five states of India, the webinar underscores emerging trends in sanitation infrastructure and services to substantiate FSM and integrated planning as the way forward after SBM.

[WATCH]: Unearthed: Facts of On-site Sanitation in Urban India
​On-site sanitation systems, such as septic tank systems and leaching pits, are ubiquitous in urban India. Rapid urbanisation, gains in toilet access under the SBM, and lagged sewerage growth have further entrenched the dependence. In the fourth webinar of the series, Neha Agarwal sheds light on the on-ground typology of these systems as revealed through a primary survey of ten Indian cities. Agarwal highlights that inadequate regulatory oversight, complex technical standards, limited technical awareness of masons, and a resilience-building approach of households, have resulted in the proliferation of ill-constructed systems which may pose a threat to the surrounding environment and communities.

[WATCH]: Manual Scavenging: What does the law say?
In the fifth webinar of the series, Tripti Singh discusses how the concept of manual scavenging has evolved over the decades in relation to the changes in sanitation technologies. She highlights that although there has been a focus by the government on the working conditions of sanitation workers since Independence, the practice of manual scavenging continues in the country till date. She points out, that in comparison to the 1993 Act on manual scavenging, the new Act introduced in 2013 has widened the scope of the law. She discusses the implication of Manual Scavenging Act, 2013 on manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks and deliberates on key gaps in the implementation of the Act.

[WATCH]: Need for Circular Sanitation Systems
​In the sixth webinar of the series, Ambarish Karunanithi and Dhiraj Santdasani highlight the need for a circular sanitation value chain rather than a linear one. This will enable the sanitation value chain to be sustainable, will result in reduction of the carbon footprint by replacing conventional fertilisers, and thereby achieve the goal of safely managed sanitation along with resource recovery.

[WATCH]: The Case of Small Cities in Odisha: Project Nirmal
​In the final webinar of the series, Anju Dwivedi highlights the journey of the states and the urban local bodies in addressing serious environmental pollution concerns through effective management of faecal sludge. The project substantiates institutional strengthening, capacity building, policy influence, private sector engagement, and strengthening community based structures in managing faecal sludge.

Additional research:

[REPORT]: Towards a New Research and Policy Paradigm: An Analysis of the Sanitation Situation in Large Dense Villages
​Read the report on SCI-FI’s study that attempts to comprehend the preference for improved on-site sanitation facilities in selected villages which were also found to be proximate to urban areas and national highways. The findings of the research highlight the state-wise variations in large and dense villages. These account for sizeable percentages of respective state population and depict a, generally, high preference for septic tanks and improved pits. The results of the study substantiate the need for a primary survey to instruct policy making adequately on the indispensability of decentralised strategies to improve the sanitation value chain.

[PODCAST]: Making Sanitation Work Safe and Eradicating Manual Scavenging
​Listen to episode 25 of the CPR podcast, ThoughtSpace, featuring Shubhagato Dasgupta and Arkaja Singh, discussing deaths due to manual scavenging. Manual scavenging has emerged as one of the biggest challenges of sanitation in India. Dasgupta and Singh point to severe inadequacies in the legal and institutional response to the issue, disentangling some of the challenges around unsafe sanitation infrastructure, and the reasons why current infrastructure cleaning and management practices are killing people.

[ARTICLE]: Safe and Dignified Sanitation Work: India’s Foremost Sanitation Challenge
​As part of CPR’s compendium, Policy Challenges 2019-2024, Shubhagato Dasgupta and Arkaja Singh, analysed the gaps in sanitation policy for manual scavengers. Dasgupta and Singh highlight how workers (and the families of sanitation workers) remain trapped in circumstances in which they have to keep performing unsafe and humiliating sanitation work, in spite of the heavy price they have to pay for it. In a series of recommendations, they write, how the government should address this challenge in a comprehensive manner.