research and policy advocacy for health & wellbeing in India.

Sanitation

Exploring the causes and consequences of widespread open defecation in India

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Sanitation

Social Inequality

Understanding how social discrimination impacts child and maternal health in rural India

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Social Inequality

Maternal Health

Exploring challenges and policy responses to adequate nutrition in motherhood to improve child health

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Maternal Health

Environment

Understanding the health consequences of climate change and air pollution, and exploring policy responses.

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Environment

Work with r.i.c.e. and 3ie on a project to learn about latrine use measurement!

We are delighted to announce that we are seeking applications for a team to carry out a new project — in partnership with 3ie and the WASH team at the Gates Foundation — that can help us learn about how to measure latrine use in rural India!

This project will be part of the Promoting Latrine Use in Rural India Thematic Window, also in collaboration with 3ie and the Gates Foundation. The window is funding several research teams to implement and evaluate behavior change interventions that aim to promote latrine use in rural India.

The projects under this window present a unique opportunity to also learn about how to measure latrine use.  The project for which we are seeking applicants now is about testing different data collection tools across different settings in rural India to figure out which ones measure latrine use most accurately.

The Swachh Bharat Mission aims to eliminate open defecation. However, how to measure open defecation accurately is still an open question. We hope this study on measurement will provide some insight.

See more at: http://www.3ieimpact.org/en/announcements/2017/04/20/consultant-team-latrine-use-measurement-project/

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Two r.i.c.e. opeds published in Hindi media!

We are very excited to share that Dainik Bhaskar – the most widely-read Hindi newspaper in India – published an article written by Nikhil! And soon after, Satyagrah @Scroll.in published another article! We are on a roll in the Hindi media.

Both articles highlight two separate pit-emptying drives, one carried out by the Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and another by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar in the presence of Minister of the Ministry. The articles call for the Prime Minister, the government and people to take-up the great idea of pit emptying.

Close to one fourth of Indians speak Hindi, hence having these articles in Hindi newspapers helps spread our research findings to a bigger audience.

You can read the Dainik Bhaskar article here, and Satyagrah one here.

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“Mad rush for toilets under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan flouting citizens’ rights”, writes Kumkum Dasgupta from HT

On October 2nd, 2014, the prime minister of India announced his ambitious target of ending open defecation in India by 2019. Now, two and half years after the prime minister made the clarion call, Kumkum Dasgupta, the Associate Editor at the Hindustan Times, puts together evidence from across the country and finds that the “mad rush for the toilets under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan [is] flouting citizens’ rights.”

Many panchayats in the country have passed orders that those who do not have a latrine in their house will be denied certain government services –PDS ration, government documents, NREGA work, etc. While some other panchayats, in order to declare themselves open defecation free have opted the rout of harassing their fellow villagers.

Kumkum also uses our Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) survey findings on awareness of Swachh Bharat Mission!

 

Read the article here.

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Diane & Dean’s book awarded the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences

Congrats to Dean and Diane for winning the Joseph W. Elder Prize from the American Institute of Indian Studies for their soon-to-be-published book Where India Goes: Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development, and the Costs of Caste.  The prize is named after Professor Joseph W. Elder, a sociologist at the University of Washington, Madison who has studied and written extensively on India, and South Asia more broadly.

In regards to the book, the prize announcement notes that:

“The members of the AIIS Publication Committee noted the book’s dramatic ethnographic case studies and well-documented statistical arguments as being of great potential value to both policy makers and general readers unaware of the magnitude and public health implications of the lack of toilets and the practice of open defecation in much of South Asia.”

See the full prize announcement here.

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r.i.c.e. article in THE WIRE

Swachh Bharat Mission since its inception has been facing a drought in terms of policy solutions. Given that 2019 is the target for achieving an open defecation free India, the program has already lived half of its life and yet has not managed to look beyond building latrines. While most of India lags in getting people to build latrines and use them, the government machinery continues to over publicize the “success islands”. The Government of India’s solution to 60% of the world’s open defecation problem is replicating what happened in these isolated places.

I visited Indore, India’s second open defecation free district, to understand what helped it reach this milestone and if there were lessons that Swachh Bharat Mission could learn from. I wondered: Could this be replicated in other parts of India? And, more importantly should it be replicated in other parts of the country?

To know more about the Indore experience read this article in THE WIRE .

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2016 Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize Announcement

Payal, Dean, and Diane’s article, “Can collective strategies motivate behavior change to reduce open defecation in rural India?” was recently honored with the Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize from Waterlines Journal.   See the announcement and full paper here.

The award was established in memory of Jeroen Ensink, an engineer, researcher, and teacher who dedicated his life and work to using research in the WASH sector to improve lives.  We are indeed humbled that the committee felt that our paper contributed in some way to his life’s work, and to the larger work of water and sanitation in the developing world.

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How to continue the pit emptying momentum

I’m pasting below a list of practical action ideas that Robert Chambers has proposed after the pit emptying demonstration in Warangal. These are activities that governments and organizations can take up alike, to break down taboos around pit emptying related to caste and untouchability. These are some great ideas, and if they are actually taken up by the government and others, it could be a real turning point for the SBM.

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  • Spread pit-emptying, now that the example has been set. Approach and send out a short note in  many copies with photos to key influentials especially the following encouraging them to do likewise: spiritual leaders, political leaders, district collectors.
  • Encourage all to carry around and display the manure they have dug up, showing how it is odourless, dry, crumbly and non-polluting, passing it around in meetings – (we did this in Raipur with 30 SHG members who had no qualms) – the CEO, Nileshkumar Kshirsagar had dug some out the same morning.
  • Make it a status and prestige thing – have you dug out a pit? Haven’t you dug a pit out yet?  So that it becomes a social norm within Government, NGOs, journalists and so on,
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