Chief minister in Assam, India, hails GSF, calls sanitation top priority


Mr. Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister in the State of Assam, India.

Mr. Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister in the State of Assam, India, and Mr. Gautam Roy, Cabinet Minister, Public Health Engineering, Assam, were among the dignitaries and sanitation and hygiene professionals participating in the launch of the Global Sanitation Fund programme in Guwahati, India, on 19 June. The launch was organized by the Executing Agency NRMC India Private Ltd. (Photos here.)

Earlier this year, the State-level launch took place in Jharkhand, India, and so the GSF programme is now poised to progress further in its aim to help large numbers of people in India gain access to improved sanitation and hygiene services and practices. 

Mr. Gogoi emphasized the strong foundation that sanitation laid for wider sustainable development. He welcomed the GSF programme and expressed hope that it will support the poor and marginalised rural people to improve their sanitation situation and quality of life in Assam. He highlighted that the people of Assam are keen to move up the sanitation ladder and a programme aimed at creating demand for improved access and sustainable use of sanitation facilities is a welcome step. He opined that prudent and effective use of software funds could ensure that people use and maintain the sanitation facilities created under the Government led Total Sanitation Campaign.

A clarion call
Mr. Gogoi made a clarion call to people of Assam to associate them with the Global Sanitation fund and realize sustainable health benefits. Emphasizing the need for sustainable sanitation he expressed that GSF could play a significant role in promoting sustainable sanitation in rural areas of the state.   Mr. Gogoi not only put his full support behind the GSF programme’s ambitious programme of change, but all announced that ensuring sustainable changes in sanitation and hygiene practices would be the number one priority for his Government in the coming years. Mr. Gogoi also praised the “GDP for GDP” campaigned material developed by WSSCC and stated that it rightly amplifies the linkage of sanitation to overall economic development of the state.

Mr. Gautam Roy highlighted the recent steps taken by his government to promote sanitation in the state and confirmed that the state of Assam is making good progress towards improving the sanitation and hygiene status in the state. He believed that the GSF programme would act as a catalyst and provide further impetus to sanitation improvement in the state, specifically in the eight focus districts. He expressed that the GSF would be able to support the Total Sanitation Program in the state and fill any gaps around promotion of demand for sanitation and hygiene. He assured of all cooperation to the implementation of GSF program in the state

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Hemendra Borah, Secretary of Public Health Engineering Department Assam stated that state would involve the elected Panchayat Raj Institutions in promotion of sanitation in the state. He shared that in coming years the state would be able to achieve universal coverage of schools, Anganwadi Centres and sanitation at all public places. 

Mr. Jayesh Bhatia, Director, NRMC India Private Ltd, the Executing Agency for Global Sanitation Fund in India shared that the States of Assam and Jharkhand have been selected as the focus states under the Global Sanitation Fund in India based on criteria developed and agreed upon with the major national sector actors and the government. The Global Sanitation Fund currently identified ten countries  in the world to receive the initial round of funding to achieve sustainable sanitation and improved hygiene behaviour at scale; seven other countries are also in the process of developing GSF programmes.

Mr. Oliver Jones, WSSCC Programme Officer for the Global Sanitation Fund, stated that the US$ 5 million fund aimed towards promoting sustainable sanitation in rural India, with special focus in the states of Assam and Jharkhand. The programme seeks to respond to fundamental challenges in the Indian Rural Sanitation Sector through the support of software activities and an emphasis on behaviour change.  The GSF is consistent with the core principles espoused by the Government of India (GoI), and aligned with the institutional and funding arrangements prevalent in the sector. The GSF programme is ambitious and aims to support and influence significant long-term, sustainable change in the state of Assam, both within and beyond the eight initial focus districts.

Key components
Mr. Depinder Singh Kapur, Convenor of the Programme Coordinating Mechanism in India spoke of the key program components of GSF Program in India. He stated that the US$ 5 million, five-year programme identifies the following three objectives in support of on-going national and State-level efforts in the Indian Rural Sanitation Sector: 

  • To contribute to sustainable sanitation use and hygiene behaviour at scale 
  • To develop capacity for sustainable promotion of improved sanitation and hygiene 
  • To promote a culture of continuous learning among all stakeholders 

Mr. Anand Shekhar, Team Leader at the Executing Agency for the Global Sanitation Fund in India, presented the interventions planned for the state of Assam.  He stated that the GSF programme, given the support it envisages for demand-driven community-level approaches aimed at improved sanitation coverage and hygiene practices and the emphasis placed on institutional strengthening, capacity building, multi-stakeholder engagement and learning, is consistent with the strategic underpinnings of the TSC.

The GSF intervention aims to stimulate momentum for improvement in sanitation and hygiene behaviour in select districts within Assam and Jharkhand. The GSF’s Programme Coordinating Mechanism, a multi-stakeholder group of local and international NGOs, international agencies and donors, has designed the programme and will continue to provide strategic guidance and support during the implementation of the GSF in India. WSSCC selected NR Management Consultants as the Executing Agency for the Global Sanitation Fund programme in India, following an open and competitive United Nations procurement process.

The Global Sanitation Fund programme will: 

(a) support institutional strengthening and capacity building at the state, district and sub-district levels in Assam and Jharkhand to enable them to better respond to communication and capacity development needs, and scale-up successful approaches, state-wide; 

(b) Realize the potential of partnerships with civil society, various government departments and the private sector; 

(c) Promote multi-stakeholder coalition engagement and learning on a national canvas, with a special focus on Assam and Jharkhand, through support for research, advocacy and networking efforts and learning events. The latter is expected to ensure and enhance the momentum of discourse on sector issues, ensure wider attention to successful approaches, facilitate substantive reflection on issues of policy and operational import and influence changes in Sector policy and practice.

To learn more about the programme in India, download the attached full version of this press release, or visit the GSF India Page.