Trichy, the city that sits at the centre of Tamil Nadu, has received high honour, having been selected for the City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) initiative, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is only one of four cities in India that has received the honour and among eight worldwide. The cities, selected for the CWIS initiative, are expected to work towards the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on sanitation ‘to ensure safe, inclusive, and financially sustainable sanitation services, which will serve as global benchmarks.’
Speaking to TNM, Santosh Ragavan of the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme, which has been working with the Trichy corporation on the programme says that the city getting picked is thanks to the sustained community sanitation efforts over the years. “This City Wide Inclusive Sanitation is a framework supported by many partner organisations as well as the Gates’ Foundation. Inclusive sanitation looks at a number of aspects including the urban poor and gender-related issues when it comes to sanitation. The Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme has been working in Trichy for over two-and-a-half years. Initially the focus was on faecal sludge management. We were working to improve safe treatment abiding by the operational guidelines for septage management. We built on what Trichy was already doing in terms of community-led initiatives including community toilets run by local self-help groups.”
With the issue of illegal manual scavenging deaths claiming lives frequently despite being outlawed, the TNUSS programme says that the inclusive nature of the program takes into account the welfare of sanitation workers. “Sanitation workers play a very important role in this value chain. The focus is very much on how their work is implemented, the process and procedure of it. There are mechanised systems that need to work effectively and the process itself needs to be adopted to safety. The program will conduct provision of Personal Protective Equipment as well as the health and family welfare of the sanitation workers,” explains Santosh.
Trichy, which has retained its cleanest city in the state tag in the 2018 Swachh Bharat, also hopes to mobilize youth in schools and colleges along with NGOs, civil society and the private sector to improve sanitation further. The project will also attempt to mainstream sanitation into existing initiatives such as Amrut, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Clean Trichy campaign, and Trichy Home Composting campaign showcase innovations and systematically document and share learnings, particularly with a view to enable replication.