Water and Sanitation Programmes

SSP helps rural communities seize opportunities provided by rural water and sanitation sector reforms. SSP's strategy for managing water resources is based on experiences and observations over the past three years about how women's groups and local governments can work together to improve water and sanitation services in targeted villages.

The strategy

  • Building local capacities, especially those of women, in planning, designing, managing and maintaining water and sanitation services.
  • Supporting rural communities to achieve maximum mileage out of rural water and sanitation sector reforms.
  • Motivating Gram Panchayats (local village governments) to commit themselves to new approaches by facilitating village water and sanitation committees and calling Gram Sabhas to involve the community.
  • Encouraging women's collectives to monitor the developmental process.
  • Improving livelihood activities related to the water sector.
  • Facilitating cross-learning between different villages and surrounding areas.

SSP has given programme support to Gram Panchayats in the form of the following initiatives:

  • General awareness campaigns
  • Visits to villages and Gram Sabhas with the participation of village water and sanitation committees (VWSC), Gram Panchayat and SCG members
  • Clean village campaigns that stress sanitation and safe waste disposal and the maintenance of kitchen gardens
  • Meetings with women's groups on repairs and the use of public toilets, soak pit construction and waste collection
  • Repairs and maintenance of the water supply
  • The construction of water tanks by way of voluntary or contract work.

The role of SSP in this field is growing. In a World Bank- supported project in Maharashtra, SSP is the only NGO reaching forty-five villages in a community-driven water and sanitation project called Jalswarajya.

Total community sanitation has been pioneered by SSP since 2004, resulting in over fifty villages and 5,000 families living in open defecation-free villages. SSP is certified as a Key Resource Agency in the government-led Total Sanitation Campaign in the districts of Osmanabad, Latur and Nanded. The demand created in over 5,000 households has been used by SSP to promote enterprise SHGs, federations in supply of sanitary parts procurement and sales.

SSP is the State level key resource center for Total Sanitation Campaign in four districts in Maharashtra - TSC - Design quality assurance criteria and methods. To increase sanitation awareness, SSP created a Community Learning Agency called Shikwa which prepares and deploys over 150 paraprofessionals to transfer knowledge and tools across four districts. As a result, over 520 villages and 350 officials from 16 districts learned from exposure visits and training programmes organised by paraprofessional teams since 2004.

Target groups

The beneficiaries of SSP's innovation are the community members who are directly involved in the water and sanitation projects of their and nearby villages through advocacy, lobbying the government, mobilizing peers, implementing and operating water and sanitation infrastructure as well as those community members who are benefiting from the results of the water and sanitation work in their villages.

SSP in partnership with the government has reached a large number of villages and households via its community mobilization approach to water and sanitation. In the future, it plans to expand the reach of its water and sanitation work to all the its operational villages of three states. Beyond this, SSP endeavours to reach many others through this work, as is discussed above.

Directly: Approximately 270 villages and over 40 000 households have been directly reached by SSP's water and sanitation work in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Additionally, it has directly trained and built the capacity of 11 200 community members and government officials. Indirectly:

Indirectly, SSP has reached well over 200 000 households in 1000 villages in Maharashtra and Gujarat. SSP has also indirectly contributed to capacity building of 50 000 community members and government officials (through training of trainers). It is important to note, however, that the actual number of households and villages reached and individuals trained indirectly by SSP's work is likely much greater than noted above because indirect impact has been very difficult to measure.

Existing partnerships

SSP has partnered with women's savings and credit self help groups and local governments and leveraged these long standing partnerships to mobilize and sustain communities on total sanitation issues.

SSP acts as key resource agency to Government of Maharashtra on training officials and organizations to centre stage women's participation in the total sanitation approach. It has partnered with the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program to document case studies and institutionalize lessons in the mainstream Jalswarajya water and sanitation programs.


SSP mobilizes and empowers communities to demand for, implement and maintain water and sanitation related projects and utilize existing government resources to maximize their impact.

Expansion plan

The Total Sanitation strategy sphere headed by women's groups in partnership with their local governments is the model directly operating in 200 villages in Maharashtra and 67 villages in Gujarat. SSP will first expand this model to all of SSP's operational villages across three states (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) in which it currently operates its other programs. Impact studies are done through self assessment in successful clean villages year after year. Every year, new champions are added to the list of innovators. They are supported by SSP to lead the awareness campaign and transfer the lessons and strategies to new communities who wish to transform themselves. SSP advocates increased accountability of sanitation programs and resources to women and community groups and highlights successful practices at state, national and international levels. Furthermore, as a member organization of GROOTS (Grassroots Organizations Operating in Sisterhood) International, SSP shares best practices and innovations with fellow members, which facilitates replication of its innovation to areas beyond its geographical reach.


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