Celebrating socially inclusive WASH on World Toilet Day


To celebrate World Toilet Day, 2018, Water for Women partners, Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in partnership with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) came together with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) and civil society organizations like Swabhiman, Sakha and Helpage representing persons with disabilities, transgender persons and elderly and a host of other CSOs and think tank bodies in a day long Information and Knowledge Camp held on 3 November, 2018 held at Bhubaneswar to facilitate dialogue and search for alternatives.

The purpose of the event was to bring key stakeholders and decision makers together in the room, including representatives from marginalised groups to ensure more sustainable and inclusive WASH outcomes. The day resulted in a Charter stating the Principles Affirmed and Practices to be Recognised which will guide delivery of their Water for Women project, mobilising, facilitating and replicating socially inclusive WASH initiatives in India’s urban slums.

The principles affirmed by participants include:

Persons with Disability and Elderly

  • One size does not fit all and this principle is particularly important for persons with disability and elderly
  • Even among persons with disability, issues of gender, poverty, living in unauthorized settlement, manner of migration impacts their ability to engage with formal systems and services  
  • Laws in general including for persons with disability and elderly are made to facilitate social equity and affirm their right to all basic services and social entitlements and legitimize all their demands

Transgender Persons 

  • As Transgender identity is a right affirmed and upheld by the Supreme Court in its NALSA judgment, this government is obligated to mainstream transgender persons in every possible way
  • Pathway to social inclusion must be charted in consultation with transgender organizations and representatives
  • The trajectory of change requires structures that encourages natural and organic leadership


  • Recognize the development priorities and needs of adolescents.
  • Respect the choices that adolescents make; build an enabling environment for adolescents.
  • Mainstream institutions must be responsive and enable adolescents to drive the change.   


The practices to be recognised by participants included:

Persons with Disability and Elderly 


  • The Municipal Corporation has to think through every aspect of challenges and barriers that persons with disability and elderly face in accessing sanitation
  • They struggle with inadequate space, poor height, unfriendly design, indignity and the undue stress that poorly planned services causes to them and their caregivers 
  • Disability-friendly toilets, water-taps and lanes require multi-layered designs with many aids and devices. The aim is to support the user from pushing open the door to all that follows that require sighting, wheeling into the space, shifting from wheel chair to toilet, sitting and then getting up and finally moving out

Transgender Persons


  • Recognize that gender includes transgender, women and men. Advance their right to social and economic development in particular healthcare through a Transgender Welfare Board
  • Walk the talk by making toilets for transgender in every possible public facility from government offices to shopping arcade, hospitals and healthcare institutions, schools, colleges, parks, bus stands, railway stations  to name a few


  • Normalize menstruation: address the taboos and enable us to reach everyone including fathers and brothers 
  • Provide essential support and services for menstrual hygiene management in schools and public spaces
  • Develop and implement a curriculum that helps us to learn about and accept the bodily change, free of myths and misconceptions without experiencing undue stress and anxiety. 


Some of the issues faced by these marginalised groups were captured in this short film.


Supported by the Australian Government

During the day, a message was relayed fromMs. Caroline Mills, First Secretary Australian High Commission which highlighted the salient principles, partnerships and processes for inclusive sanitation and the Australian Government’s support through Water for Women. 


“In India we are extremely pleased to partner with the Center for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) and Research Triangle Institute Global India (RTI India) on an initiative that aims to strengthen collaboration between community, civil society networks, local authorities, service providers and national stakeholders to build a consensus on design, planning and delivery of WASH services. This will be achieved through composite community government-private sector mechanisms for both mobilizing demand and improving governance for equitable sanitation services. Importantly, the program will focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised communities living in urban settlements, including Bhubaneswar.  Involving end-users in a participatory management structure will help ensure that interventions are targeted appropriately, and are sustainable.”  


Commitments made by Decision Makers on the day

“Convergence of all stakeholders to address an issue like sanitation is the need of the hour, and the government is committed to the cause of sanitation for all.” 

Mr. Sangramjit Nayak, Mission Director, Swachha Bharat Mission (URBAN), Housing and Urban Development Government of Odisha


“A Smart city can truly be smart only if it is gender sensitive and inclusive, is committed to supporting all endeavours that work towards this vision of a truly inclusive smart city.”

Mr. Soraj Kumar Swain General Manager Operation Bhubaneswar Smart City 


“Committed to extending support to all marginal communities on issues of sanitation and enabling the communities to stake their claim as rightful citizens.”

Mr. Deepak Kumar Sahoo Deputy Secretary, Odisha State Legal Authority:  


“There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to converge in order to mainstream marginal communities.”

Mr. Nitin Chandra Principal Secretary, Department of Social Security and Employment for Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD)

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