"This is a very crit­i­cal in­no­va­tion on the san­i­ta­tion value chain be­cause the whole sus­tain­abil­ity of Swachh Bharat Mis­sion de­pends on the fact that we can empty and re­use those pits of min­er­alised fae­ces so that they can last many

The prob­lem of drink­ing water and san­i­ta­tion in In­dia still per­sists to a large ex­tent but it is ap­pre­cia­ble that the Cen­tre's ap­proach in solv­ing drink­ing water & san­i­ta­tion is­sues is 'trans­par­ent & open'.

While ad­dress­ing the ASSOCHAM con­fer­ence on 'Wash for All: In­no­va­tive ap­proaches', Mr. Ni­co­las Os­bert, Chief of WASH (Water, San­i­ta­tion, Hy­giene) Unicef In­dia, said that there is a very strong trans­parency, open­ness among many stake­hold­ers in terms of the union govern­ment's ap­proach to­wards solv­ing is­sues con­cern­ing lack of drink­ing water and san­i­ta­tion in In­dia. "This is re­ally good be­cause this helps to find in­no­va­tion and its work­ing very well as the door is open at the Min­istry of Drink­ing Water and San­i­ta­tion for peo­ple to pro­pose things and re­act on strate­gies and ap­proaches pro­moted by the govern­ment."

"We believe that this is a very strong as­set to con­tinue to foster in­no­va­tion to ad­dress the chal­lenges at the scale re­quired in In­dia," said Mr. Os­bert.

How­ever, when it comes to in­no­va­tion in In­dia, there is a need to think at scale. "We need to in­no­vate more, we need to work more on mak­ing the toi­lets as ra­tio­nal and that is lack­ing as a so­cial good, for now it is a bit co­er­cive."

Re­fer­ring to the is­sue of man­ual scav­eng­ing, he said, "Clean­ing should be a pro­fes­sion, it should not be brought down to a caste but rather to pro­fes­sion­als, so this is an­other area which re­quires in­no­va­tion."

Talk­ing about the need to im­prove san­i­ta­tion value chain, he also re­ferred to a re­cent toi­let pit emp­ty­ing ex­er­cise car­ried out by Union Min­is­ter for Drink­ing Water and Sani ta tion, Mr. Naren­dra Singh To­mar, and em­i­nent film per­son­al­ity, Mr. Ak­shay Ku­mar whereby they led a team of­se­nior state and Cen­tral govern­ment of­fi­cers to a house­hold in a Mad­hya Pradesh vil­lage which has adopted a twin pit toi­let model, and pro­ceeded to empty the filled pit of the toi­let to demon­strate that the ex­er­cise is per­fectly safe and there should be no stigma at­tached to it. years', said Mr. Os­bert.

As part of Unicef's ef­forts to work on san­i­ta­tion value chain, he said that there is a lot to do in solid and liq­uid waste man­age­ment as tonnes of waste gets pro­duced which can ei­ther be re­cy­cled or used as fer­til­izer.

"For ur­ban san­i­ta­tion, the in­no­va­tion we try to bring here is based on pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship to mo­bilise small scale ser­vice providers so that they make money out of sup­port­ing the govern­ment for the ser­vice of deal­ing with waste, in par­tic­u­lar fae­cal­sludge

as 70per cent of is pro­duced in ur­ban ar­eas and gets re­leased in the en­vi­ron­ment which leads to di­ar­rheal dis­ease and stunted growth", said Mr. Os­bert.

He also stressed upon the need to scale thing sup in this re­gard in order to have small scale ser­vice providers as in­no­va­tion re­lies on right con­trac­tual ap­proach whereby pay­ment is made only af­ter it is en­sured that sludge is put in the right place and not in any drain, which un­for­tu­nately has re­ally been hap­pen­ing.

"So the in­no­va­tion re­lies on right con­trac­tual ap­proach and the right mon­i­tor­ing process and the in­cen­tive is mon­eyand luck­ily enough there are funds to pay the ser­vice providers, while the prob­lem is technical", fur­ther said the Unicef of­fi­cial.

Quot­ing a 2015 World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) re­port on dis­eases, he said that each year in In­dia there are 117,000 five-year old chil­dren dy­ing of di­ar­rheal dis­ease. "This is 22per cent of global bur­den, so any child that dies of di­ar­rhoea in the world, one in five is dy­ing in In­dia."

He also said that as per an es­ti­mate about 11 per cent neona­tal deaths in In­dia oc­cur due to hospi­tal-ac­quired dis­eases, while 14 per cent of ma­ter­nal deaths in hos­pi­tals oc­cur ow­ing to be­cause of poor in­fec­tion, pre­ven­tion and con­trol.

"All this is pre­ventable with WASH so what we try to pro­mote in health fa­cil­i­ties is soft­ware," said Mr. Os­bert.

He also re­ferred to a 2008 World Bank study, as per which every year In­dia is los­ing $53.8 bil­lion be­cause of­poor san­i­ta­tion alone.

"The num­ber might have been ex­ag­ger­ated but this is the range be­cause of the dis­eases, mor­bid­ity, health ex­pen­di­ture and work­days lost, so this is huge and more than all the in­come gen­er­ated by In­dia in tourism is lost be­cause of poor san­i­ta­tion and its con­se­quences," said Mr. Os­bert.

Unice£' s core busi­ness is to sup­port govern­ment and civil so­ci­ety in ad­vo­cacy, plan­ning, tech­nol­ogy in­puts, ca­pac­ity build­ing, be­hav­iour change com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

"We at the Unicef are work­ing with the union govern­ment and 15 most pop­u­lated states in the coun­try and we have some chances to bring to try to pro­mote in­no­va­tions be­cause we are work­ing on ed­u­ca­tion, health, child pro­tec­tion and WASH", said Mr. Os­bert.

Mr. Akash Ti­wari, Head, Con­ver­gence Busi­ness, Eram Sci­en­tific So­lu­tions Pvt. Ltd. ad­dress­ing the au­di­ence.

"S~I'·I~· /" 'LSIiARA (L- R) Mr. Babu Lal Jain, Se­nior Ad­vi­sor (MDGs), United Na­tions Of­fice for Part­ner­ship, Mr. Ravi Bhat­na­gar, Head - Strate­gic Part­ner­ships & Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, Reckitt Benckiser In­dia, Mr. Rahul Sharma, Se­nior Mem­ber, Man­ag­ing...

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