Learning from the communities in Nanded

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During the Nanded workshop, we spent the first day sharing our experiences in Nairobi and learning about the work in Nanded. We then split up into groups for field visits. I saw four different areas of Nanded.

Lumbini Nagar
The first was an informal settlement called Lumbini Nagar – that had been upgraded in 2010 under the BSUP (Basic Services for the Urban Poor) programme – implemented by Nanded City Corporation, which provided low-cost, upgraded houses to residents. The households purchased houses at a subsidized one-time rate of 28,000 rupees (approx US$560). The houses now belong to the residents. Each household has a toilet – before they were using a public toilet or defecating in the open.

With the training and support of Feedback Foundation, the residents of Lumbini Nagar have cleaned up areas which were once dumping sites and are earning income from the sale of compost (from “wet” kitchen waste). The waste is collected and disposed of in pits. It is then layered and once the pit it full, it takes 3 months to produce compost that is then sold at 20 rupees per 1 kg bag. The community council – which has 12 members – has produced 250 kilograms since the implementation began in July 2011.

One major challenge in implementation is that some of the area’s residents have become suspicious of the natural leaders, believing that they are receiving payment from the Corporation in return for cleaning up the waste. Thus, some other residents are not willing to pick up their own waste, insisting that because the natural leaders “are being paid”, the leaders should clean up others’ waste as well. This is a common scenario for volunteer-driven projects in Nairobi as well, and the natural leaders will need to find creative ways to deal with the criticism in their communities.

Pathan Galli
The second site I visited was Pathan Galli – a mainly Muslim middle-income community with many land-owners – that had cleaned up the area. When we arrived, many community members were at the mosque for prayers but some men and children were available to speak to me. The area has the first and only female Sanitation Inspector in the history of Nanded City. Sanitation Inspectors are responsible for overseeing garbage collection and clean-up in the city. The collective action in many communities has made the work of the Sanitation Inspectors easier as there is less waste material to clean up.

Contaminated water in Pathan GalliIn the second community, we were presented with clean bottled water. As we were hearing from a local natural leader, a man came out of one of the houses carrying another bottle of water – it was far from clean. He presented it to us and explained that the local residents were very upset as a sewage pipe had burst nearby and was contaminating their drinking water. The Corporation has begun a project to separate the drinking water pipes from the sewage pipes – laying them underground on opposite sides of the road, however this project will not be complete for another 1.5 years. In the meantime, the community has filed a complaint with the regional office but it’s been a month and the pipe has not been fixed. The sanitation officer is not responsible for this as it is the water department’s jurisdiction but she assured us that she will assist them to speak to the right person.

Brahmpuri
The third community, Brahmpuri, was next to a temple. The residents living near the temple had also been “triggered” and trained on waste management. The waste project was being managed by a committee of 7 people. We didn’t spend much time here as there was a wedding in process at the temple and the residents (who live near the temple – some own their houses and others are part of the BSUP programme) were eager to get back to the festivities.

Compost pit in Bhagirath Nagar

Bhagirath Nagar
Lastly, I visited a middle-income housing estate, Bhagirath Nagar – a government commune that houses workers from the Ministry of Irrigation. The group were undertaking waste management in the form of composting. OD was not an issue in this area, as all of the houses (provided to the workers by the government) have toilets. The residents are composting and are planning to use the compost in their gardens – some may try to sell the compost to raise funds for improving the area. They said there is not much of a communal spirit but through the waste management programme the residents – particularly the women – have come together to work on this project.

Reflecting on experiences in Nanded
From the presentations by local government officials, elected leaders and community residents, as well as the field visits to local communities, it was clear that there was a social movement underway in the city. What was particularly striking was the strong role of women as natural leaders in Nanded. The majority of the ‘triggered’ residents and the natural leaders who emerged during the process were women – they were referred to throughout the workshop as ‘Commandos’.

Although we were impressed, we felt we were only getting one side of the story of sanitation and urban development as challenges, lesson learned and difficulties experienced were not forthcoming. The field visits were inspirational, but we guessed were not representative of the city as a whole. The view from our hotel looked out onto an informal settlement – one that had not yet been targeted by the urban CLTS campaign or the BSUP programme. We learned that thus far, only 10% of the city had been covered.

Sustainability?
Through further investigation, concerns also arose about the sustainability of the urban CLTS movement. There is no doubt about the energy, ownership and enthusiasm of the Commandos and the communities that had thus far been reached, but the day before the workshop began Nipun learned that he was to be transferred to Delhi to take up a posting in the Central government. As the major champion of CLTS in Nanded, this poses a real challenge for the sanitation, as the elected leaders in the area were not as supportive of the social movement behind urban CLTS as we may have been led to believe. Throughout the conference, the Commandos took to the stage, presenting petitions to state and central government representatives, calling for Nipun to remain in Nanded to continue supporting them.

The Nanded sanitation story is one of constant innovation and great progress within a short time period. There, the focus of the urban CLTS process shifted from one of attaining open defection free status to managing waste material (garbage, food waste, cleaning up dumping sites, etc.) as this emerged primary issue of concern to the triggered communities. Open defecation was indeed tackled, but only as one component within the context of a clean environment and improved sanitation strategies. The challenge will be to scale up this social movement and ensure that no resident of Nanded is left behind. This will be particularly challenging in light of the changes in administration and the ambivalence of many of the politicians and local government officials.

Jamie Lundine

You may also like to read Jamie’s other blog post Impressions from Nanded: Three variations of urban CLTS meet

Date: 3 April 2012
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Submitted by Pravin V Soni (not verified) on

THE NANDED CLTS BABY:

The cleanliness and sanitation drive was very well conceived by the then Municipal Commissioner of Nanded Dr Nipun Vinayak. CLTS was on his hit list all during his 2+ years of tenure in Nanded. Inspite of apprehensions from political and media segments – Dr Nipun moved on the drive undeterred with the support of the triggering agencies – Knowledge Links and Feedback Ventures. Eventually a healthy CLTS baby was born in Nanded and grew well with time. The involvement of people, particularly from the slum areas and lower income groups was remarkable. These people started calling themselves SWACHHATA SAINIKS ( CLEANLINESS COMMANDOS ) with a “JAI SWACHHATA” (WE HAIL CLEANLINESS) slogan, so much so, that, whenever they met, they used to greet one another with “JAI SWACHHATA”!

Dr Nipun used to personally visit all the slum areas, walking down the turbid tracks, mixing up with the communities, understanding their issues, supporting them by all means and so much & so fore! His involvement and interaction with the communities was so intense that he maintained a high level of personal acquaintance with the people to the level of calling them by their names, inviting them to his residence over festive events. This instilled a highest level of confidence among the CLEANLINESS COMMANDOS, who, then, not only used to maintain their localities clean, but also started cleaning up neighbouring localities.

Thus the NANDED CLTS BABY was growing healthy and the international workshop took it to toddling. Suddenly the transfer orders of Dr Nipun came in, much to the disappointment of the COMMANDOS & the triggering agencies -Knowledge Links & Feedback Ventures. It was like the parental cover being removed from the head of NANDED CLTS BABY. Some doubted it to become ORPHAN even!

It is here, under such adverse circumstances that the concept of CLTS proves its own identity. If it is conceived well & healthy, it cannot die! It may get ill, sick become sluggish under unfavouring situations, but will cure it up itself. Thats the beauty of CLTS and that is because it is LED by the COMMUNITY itself. Dr Nipun, being a doctor himself by qualification did just the same, conceived and delivered a healthy baby, nurtured it well making it self sufficient and self reliant.

After departure of Dr Nipun the CLTS movement came to a standstill. Its existence came to question? The activities stalled for a while. But, as a healthy baby cannot remain dull & idle, the NANDED CLTS baby suddenly stood up and stood up firm to walk! The COMMANDOs started contacting one another, the triggering agency’s local employees after giving up their jobs from the departed triggering agencies came forward & joined the COMMANDOs force. Thus, the NANDED CLTS drive reinstated itself on its own. Yesterday we met in a public garden (even by paying the garden entrance fee & cycle stand charges!) discussed on the further plans and again we shall be meeting on 5th May to restart the mission. The NANDED CLTS baby will walk, run & win the CLTS MARATHON!

JAI CLTS