Book Chapter: Role of Accountability in Providing Inclusive Citywide Sanitation Services: Case of Wai and Sinnar in Maharashtra, India

September 2023

This book chapter on "Role of Accountability in Providing Inclusive Citywide Sanitation Services: Case of Wai and Sinnar in Maharashtra, India" is now part of the newly launched book on "Accountability Mechanisms for Inclusive City-Level Public Services in Asia"by Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI). The book targets the urgent challenge of providing safe sanitation access to nearly half of the world's population. It focuses on accountability mechanisms for sanitation service delivery and compiles insights from a global perspective, offering key messages for policy makers, researchers, and practitioners. 

Chapter abstract: Sanitation is a basic need of all citizens, especially those belonging to vulnerable communities and thus needs to be provided as a service to all citizens. Over the years, in India, much needed focus on sanitation has emerged through the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission). While it focused on building individual household toilets initially, in its second phase the focus is on aspects of safe conveyance, collection, and treatment of waste. This paper discusses improvements in sanitation service delivery in two towns of India which have successfully demonstrated implementation of safe and inclusive sanitation services across the value chain through the principles of Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS). For these services to sustain and to scale inclusively, they must be organized to ensure accountability by the service providers. Thus, a key principle in CWIS is strong accountability and clear responsibility. In India, local governments have the legal mandate and are accountable for providing inclusive sanitation services and so, mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that the local governments meet the requirements of their mandate. At the national level there are established systems for assessing municipal service performance which is through service level benchmarking (SLB) hence there is upward accountability i.e., state, and local government have a mandate to report to higher authority (national level). In terms of downward accountability, in the Indian context the elected representatives are part of decision-making process at the local government level. The local government is thus responsible and accountable to both higher government authorities and citizens. There are systems in place for ensuring internal accountability i.e., within the departments of a particular level of government be it national, state, or local.

The cities discussed in this paper have introduced scheduled desludging as a public service to all properties in the city including those situated in slums or low-income communities through a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement. They have also built faecal sludge treatment plants. During its implementation women participation and safety of sanitation workers have been ensured. These services are implemented through a Performance-based Annuity Model for Scheduled Emptying.

To ensure accountability of service providers, digital tools have been designed and used to monitor performance. These tools are easy to use. Besides ensuring monitoring, they also help in planning, monitoring and performance assessment local government. The improvement programme not only includes actions from the government in terms of service delivery but also from the citizen perspective through feedback mechanisms and user experience. The cities have also captured feedback mechanisms for ensuring downward accountability through community voices. The paper describes these and suggests that there is scope to scale up inclusive sanitation with the use of such accountability mechanisms.