COVID 19 AND SAFE SANITATION PRACTICES FOR URBAN CONTEXT
National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is India’s leading national think tank on urban planning and development. As a hub for the generation and dissemination of cutting-edge research in the urban sector, NIUA seeks to provide innovative solutions to address the challenges of a fast urbanising India and pave the way for more inclusive and sustainable cities of the future.
A national working group was convened in January 2016 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the mandate to build consensus around and drive the discourse on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) forward, nationally. The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance(NFSSMA) currently comprises of 30 organizations across the country working towards decentralised and non-sewered sanitation solutions(particularly for septage management/Faecal Sludge Management) for the India States and Cities.
The strength of the Alliance lies in its diverse membership, which includes research institutes, academic institutions, think-tanks, quasi-government bodies, implementing organizations, data experts, consultants, and intermediaries. This enables a multi-disciplinary view of urban sanitation, with members building on each other’s expertise. Coming together as a collaborative lent significant solemnity and credibility when approaching the Government, and resulted in policy recommendations that were inclusive, comprehensive, and had buy-in from several stakeholders in the sector. Having members who had worked closely with the government for decades was an added advantage.
Support of Gates Foundation in this initiative is acknowledged.
In the context of the unprecedented situation caused due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, health and sanitation workers tackling the crisis at the frontline are amongst the most vulnerable population.
As of mid-April 2020, more than 150,000 people have died after contracting the illness and more than 20 lakh people have been infected globally. This number Is continuously rising and includes many frontline workers due to the nature of their work.
In India, a sanitation worker is involved in many tasks, such as cleaning toilets, collecting household refuse, medical wastes and garbage, emptying pits and septic tanks, cleaning sewers and manholes, among others. These tasks become all the more dangerous in a health crisis due to the risk of infection. It is during these circumstances that one needs to invest time and energy in ingraining and re-enforcing hygiene-related behaviour change and build the capacity of the sanitation workers.
National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) along with the National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance Partners, has taken up this initiative of creating a repository of important government advisories and practitioners’ guidance material for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), state governments, elected representatives, professionals from private and public bodies, to prepare for and address the COVID 19 and Urban Sanitation challenges.
A Resource Book is prepared by NIUA, titled as "COVID-19 and Safe Sanitation Practices in Urban Context": In the resource book, important government advisories and knowledge resources are organised in the following three sections for easy refernece: