Friday, October 12, 2012

Gulzar Natarajan on 'missing toilets'

From his latest post Lessons from the 'missing toilets' scam about Government of India's Total Sanitation Scheme (TCS) which was started in 1999. Apart from the expected corruption problems
("the violations appear to be most egregious in Uttar Pradesh, where the TSC reports indicate only 17.8% households without toilet to the census figure of 78%"), Gulzar says that the deficiencies of the program are glossed over, with the main culprit being the financial pattern. And
" Finally, even if all the aforementioned problems are overcome and the toilet constructed, its usage poses another set of challenges. Most fundamentally, where is the water to run the closets? In villages, where even drinking water is scarce, free flowing water is mostly an exception. Maintenance costs too come in the way of households keeping such toilets functional. More than any of the first five problems, this has no readily available answers."
Talking of the program of toilets for schools under SSA, he says
"... the most frustrating deficiency is the failure to provide for adequate operation and maintenance. The total maintenance allocation for schools under the SSA, including cleanliness, consumables, and small repairs is a pitifully small amount of Rs 5000 each year. 
Raising finances at such fiscally strained times is not easy. However, we need to be aware of these issues before we pass judgements on programs and pour more money down the drain by scaling them up with even more ambitious targets. "

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