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Survey of sanitation facilities in Ahmedabad slum areas shows open defecation in city

By Jitendra Rathod* 
Manav Garima, in collaboration with Human Development and Research Centre, conducted a survey on current status of the sanitation system of individual households in two slum settlements of Ahmedabad – Shankarbhuvan and Nagorivad. After scrutinizing the current status of the sanitation system in both the areas, following aspects were taken into account for further action: Status of individual toilets, status of drainage facility, availability of electricity, and usage of individual toilets. 
As seen in Table 1, there are in all 1,447 individual households in the two slum settlements, with a population of 7,493. A further breakup suggests that Nagorivad has a population of 1,677 and 317 households, while Shankarbhuvan has a population of 5,816 and 1,130 households.
Individual Toilets
Table 2 depicts number of households that have individual toilets, and number of households that do not have them. In the two slum settlements surveyed, 916 households do not have individual toilets, while 531 households have individual toilets. In Nagorivad, 100 households have individual toilets, and 217 do not have them. In Shankarbhuvan, 431 households have individual toilets, while 699 households do not have them.
Availability of Water
Table 3 shows number of households that have access to water supply at home or in the neighbourhood. As many as 865 households have access to water supply, while 582 households do not have any such access. In Nagorivad, 262 households have access to water supply, while 55 households do not have it. In Shankarbhuvan, 603 households have access to water supply, while 527 do not have it.
Status of Drainage Connection
Table 4 portrays individual drainage connection in each household. In Nagorivad, 307 households have drainage connections, and 10 do not have drainage connection. In Shankarbhuvan, 861 households have drainage connection, while 269 households do not have drainage connection.
Availability of Electricity
Individual Toilets’ Functionality
Table 5 shows how many households have access to power. In both the slum settlements, 1,250 individual households have electricity connection, but 197 do not have electricity connection. In Nagorivad, 315 households have electricity connection, while two households are without electricity connection. In Shankarbhuvan 935 households have electricity connection, while 195 households do not have it.
Total number of available household toilets was divided into two subcategories: Individual toilets in use, and non-functional individual toilets. Table 6 shows that among the two slum settlements, having 531 individual toilets, 315 households have functional toilets, while 216 households have non-functional toilets. A major reason for non-functional toilets is lack of proper drainage facility.
In Nagorivad, 88 households have functional individual toilets, while 12 households have non-functional toilets. In Shankarbhuvan 227 households have functional toilets, but 204 households do not have them.
Households where it is Possible to Construct Individual Toilets
As Table 7 suggests that total number of households that do not have individual toilets is 916. Of these households, 599 households have space for constructing toilets. Nagorivad has 139 households where individual toilets can be constructed, while Shankarbhuvan has 460 such households. There are, however, 317 households that neither have toilets nor any space for their construction.

Suggested Plan of Action

From these data, it is possible to determine the total number of toilets that can be built in the two settlements, drainage facilities/ other infrastructure needed to be provided, and households which are in need of water supply in Nagorivad and Shankarbhuvan.
Drainage system of both areas: There are 531 households which have individual toilets. But it is found that out of the 531 households, 216 are not using toilets. Subsequently, they prefer to defecate in the open.
From community observations and interviews, it has been noted that, overall, main drainage system that is currently in place does not function properly, and is the main reason why individual households do not use the facilities. A further analysis of the current drainage system by technical experts is needed.
Water Supply: It was found, through interviews and observations, that availability of adequate water is a serious issue in both the areas. Lack of sufficient water is a major reason why family members prefer to avoid using toilets and defecate in the open. Many families have no access to water at home but they manage to fetch it from the neighbourhood. In fact, water supply in both areas is highly inadequate. It is, therefore, required that water supply is increased.
Conclusion: Be that as it may, it is possible to begin construction of individual toilets in households where space is available. At the same time, water supply should be increased and the drainage system expanded. If required, a new drainage system should be put in place in both the areas. While it is necessary to educate and change the behaviour of the community, this would depend on the availability of individual toilets, adequate water supply and proper drainage system. People will continue to defecate in open if any of these facilities is lacking in the two areas.

*Senior activist, Janvikas, Ahmedabad

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