[Solved] “To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs the identification of the beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes.” Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme. (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

[Solved] “To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs the identification of the beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes.” Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme. (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

‘Water, sanitation, and hygiene” (WASH) scheme is the key public health essential within international development which is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6, which intended to provide equitable and accessible water and sanitation for all, specifically for women and girls.

  • India is one of the developing countries that has come out with WASH schemes to address the challenges of health and sanitation in urban and rural areas.
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for urban and rural areas is one of the manifestation of the importance of WASH schemes.
  • There has been huge disparities in access to WASH services across different segments of the population.
  • In India, around 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services.
  • Thus there is an urgent need to identify the different kinds of beneficiaries and communities whose accesss to WASH services need to be enhanced. The outcomes need to be enhanced in terms of adequacy, accessibility, affordability, quality and safety of the WASH services.
  • WASH sectors come under concurrent subjects and both central and state governments can legislate on it.
  • The collection of data related to WASH schemes are generally done at state level but it suffers from many discrepancies.
  • The needs and barriers for segments of the population differ and consequently the strategies also need to be customised for the different segments.
  • Therefore, policymakers are gradually moving away from a “one size fits all” approach to a more beneficiary-centric approach.
  • A traditional approach has been to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of geographical and social context (GSS).
  • Population was therefore segmented as rural, urban, low income and so on. Recently there is a trend to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of the human life cycle (LCS). Beneficiaries are thus segmented as children, adolescents, adults, senior citizens, and so on.
  • To be able to achieve our WASH targets, it is important that our policies adopt both the LCS and GSS approaches.

WASH scheme:

• As transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals is taking place water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are taking policy center stage in most emerging and developing countries.

• WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Each is dependent on the presence of the other. For example, without toilets, water sources become contaminated; without clean water, basic hygiene practices are not possible.

• There are large disparities in access to WASH services across different segments of the population. InIndia, 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services.

How WASH accomplishes successful linking of beneficiaries with the outcomes?

• Within the WASH Results Programme, the suppliers have tended to define handwashing outputs in

terms of the reach of handwashing promotion. They have defined outcomes in terms of:

– knowledge of handwashing behaviour,

– self-reported behaviour, and

– the presence of handwashing facilities.

• Access to WASH, in particular safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education, can reduce illness and death, and also impact poverty reduction and socio-economic development.

• In addition, lack of WASH facilities can prevent students from attending school, impose a burden on women and diminish productivity.

• The fact that WASH is the subject of dedicated targets within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) is testament to its fundamental role in public health and therefore in the future of sustainable development.

• Improving access to WASH is both a development goal in its own right and a means of achieving other development benefits, particularly in health. WASH is also thought to contribute to school attendance, nutrition and gender equality.

Problems

Several problems have been faced fo the implementation of the scheme.

  • Water contamination in the distribution systems.
  • The adequate water facility is still not available to a large number of the population.
  • Climate change and bad human habits.
  • The sanitation system is expensive and out of reach in rural areas.

Solution

  • The concerned authority must take care of the accessibility, affordability, quality, and safety of the service.
  • Both the central and state governments should take initiatives to make laws on the subject.
  • Implementation of innovative low-cost sanitation systems.
  • Sustainable water service.

• WASH policies formulated by State governments have low robustness as compared to that of national policies. Only 22 per cent of the WASH policies from India could be classified as highly robust,

• Sustainability is a particular challenge in the WASH sector. It has multiple dimensions, including technical, financial and institutional.

Suggestions:

• Contemporary thinking is that adoption of human life cycle for segmenting of beneficiaries can significantly help in improving the access to WASH services. To be able to achieve India’s WASH targets, it is imperative that our policies straddle both the LCS and GSS approaches.

• The robustness of policies can be enhanced if more and more policies can focus on identifying the barriers faced by the different segments in accessing WASH services. Better identification of barriers would also have a positive impact on subsequent downstream components such as formulation of strategies and outcomes.

• Rather, to achieve nutrition goals countries must ensure they’ve got the right sectors and ministries involved, and that they’re collaborating in the most effective ways.

– These include: identifying entry points for integrated delivery (for example, behaviour change

interventions targeting both WASH and nutrition)

– strengthening institutional mechanisms to allow for greater knowledge transfer

– understanding the barriers for cross-sectoral work and what incentives exist or can be created to

improve the nutrition sensitivity of this program

Way forward

Considering the issues of poverty, climate change, and poor governance the WASH scheme should be extended in every corner of the Nation. Both geographical and social context-based approach, human life cycle based should be practiced

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