Mr. Shubhasis Pattnaik has taken over as Executive Director of Gram Vikas with effect from 1st May 2014.  
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titlepointMANTRA - Experiences of Gram Vikas

“Our village is better than the town. We have 24*7 piped water supply to all families, without exception. Every family has their own toilet and bathing room as well. When we seek marriage alliances, our daughters ask us – ‘ would there ...

Water & Sanitation

The Gram Vikas water and sanitation programme addresses the root of why rural populations in India remain impoverished. Most rural communities lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities and are therefore more prone to disease and thus demoralized and unable to defeat the cycle of poverty. The water and sanitation programme at Gram Vikas links common health concerns to poor sanitation and empowers communities to construct, manage and maintain their own sanitation facilities and launch development initiatives that improve community health and quality of life.

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Gram Vikas mobilizes, educates and trains communities on how to construct, manage and maintain their own sanitation facilities. As part of the programme, community members pool resources to construct identical toilets and bathing rooms for each household, with clean piped water from a community-constructed water tank. The programme awakens the community’s ability to independently sustain their own sanitation network through cooperative contribution and management systems such as financial training, construction skill building, and hygiene education workshops. Equitable financial and institutional mechanisms ensure that all families have access to sanitation facilities. A core fund (also called corpus) is established that plans for the future growth of the community by collecting an average of Rs. 1000/- per household, which is invested into the future expansion of the sanitation system to deliver water and sanitation services to new households in the village.

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The current social structure in many villages does not enable all community members to access clean water. To ensure universal access, Gram Vikas transforms the established social order making it mandatory that all households are included in the programme and that the female heads of households are involved in the decision-making process. The practice of 100 percent inclusion keeps villages clean and eliminates sources of water contamination as each and every member of the village is involved in establishing, maintaining and benefiting from the sanitation system. The policy of 100 percent inclusion is the first step in breaking down caste and gender barriers and allowing the marginalized to regard themselves as equals within the community. This development process is based on MANTRA governance programme’s values of inclusion, sustainability, cost sharing and social and gender equity.

Clean drinking water and access to sanitation has resulted in over 80% reduction in incidences of waterborne diseases. A healthy community and habitat acts as a catalyst for sustainable development. A program for impact assessment of the program is ongoing in collaboration with the Netherlands based Action Research organization, T.N.O. and examines aspects of community health. The collaborative program with TNO monitors behavioural changes in communities with respect to hygiene and sanitation and assesses the role of women in decision making.

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Water and sanitation as a component of community health is one important intervention in Gram Vikas’ approach to development. Gram Vikas’ sectors of intervention include: