December 2021

How would you like your toilets: A guide to building toilets for all

Saamuhika Shakti partner WaterAid India works to provide improved access to water and sanitation in waste picker communities, promote hygiene behaviour and ensure active community engagement in the planning, implementation, and subsequent operation and maintenance of the infrastructure that has been retrofitted or newly created. When constructing new or upgrading hard assets, the aim is to make the infrastructure as inclusive as possible.

At Sumanahalli, WaterAid India conducted a Participatory Appraisal (PRA) exercise, which empowers the people to share, assess and understand the water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in their area, and propose possible solutions to address the issues. This was done through active discussions facilitated by resource people and facilitators from the community, and mapped by the community members, especially women, using locally available coloured sand (Rangoli).

WaterAid delved deeper into the dimensions of waste pickers’ lives that make them vulnerable, such as their age, roles and sexual orientation, among other things. The toilet complex at Sumanahalli had been defunct, forcing residents to resort to open defecation and increasing their dependency on the single pay-and-use public toilet complex in the vicinity. The area now boasts of functional, retrofitted toilet stalls that cater to the needs of the community, especially the elderly, women, and children.  As the community opted for Indian-style toilets over the western-style ones, WaterAid India made provisions for grab-bars in the toilet stalls that can be used by the elderly and pregnant women to prevent them from falling. Glimpses from the initial dialogue with the community and Rangoli planning of the toilets:

A community resource personnel (CRP) adds some finishing touches to the community map. This map was drawn on the ground by the community members who took part in this workshop.
Photos: Saamuhika Shakti/Vinod Sebastian
The index for the community map.
Sajepaalya - A group of waste pickers' houses that is adjacent to this community. It does not have water, toilets or sewage facilities
Mr. Thippeswamy, one of the CRPs, interacting with the community members.
A resident marking areas where open defecation takes place in the community.
CRPs interacting with the participants.
Participants share a light moment as the CRP demonstrates in detail steps required while washing hands.
CRP explaining water access issues and solutions in detail.
Here, the CRP demonstrates in detail how best to wash hands.
Participants during the session.

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