Saturday, 27 June 2009

Manual scavenging − again

Manual scavenging’s in the news again: the Indian Supreme Court is on the case − according to a report in Source Weekly (IRC’s excellent e-newsletter), it “has asked the Delhi government to explain its failure to implement a central law against manual scavenging that provides for elimination of dry latrines and rehabilitation of scavengers. Earlier, the court had also sent to district magistrates the details of over 2,000 dry latrine owners in over 25 districts in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan seeking their explanation for their failure in demolishing the latrines and prosecuting the owners. The notices were sent after the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) (Sanitary Workers’ Movement) provided evidence that the practice of manual scavenging still existed, 16 years after the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act was passed by the Union Government in 1993.” Let’s hope the Supreme Court does the decent thing and get this dreadful practice banned for good (see blogs of 7 August 2008, 17 April 2008 and 18 January 2008)

India has around ~668,000 “open defecators” (58% of the Indian population, and 56% of the world total of open defecators). There's a Total Sanitation Campaign (basically the same as CLTS), but word has it that it’s not going that well. Now, India is by far the largest recipient of WatSan aid − USD 830 million (2006 USD) in 2006−07, equivalent to 13% of all WatSan aid, according to the OECD report Measuring Aid to Water Supply and Sanitation (published in February this year). So wouldn’t it be a good idea for all these donors to get together and say “Look here, sort out manual scavenging once and for all, and make sure your Total Sanitation Campaign really delivers”. But have the donors got the bottle to say this? It needs to be said loudly and clearly (and India should take on board the old adage: “your greatest critics are your greatest friends”).