Career in Sanitation
Usha Albuquerque and Nidhi Prasad
Water is a basic necessity, and an important resource for sustaining life. The decline in water quality endangers the health of humans as well as the ecosystem. Clean drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation play an important part in maintaining health.
Individual’s health and hygiene is dependent largely on adequate availability of drinking water and proper sanitation. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between water, sanitation and good health. Consumption of unsafe drinking water, improper disposal of human excreta, improper high infant mortality rate is also largely attributed to poor sanitation.
Sanitation is a major problem in developing countries such as India and China.Due to the explosion in the population, the government is unable to provide proper sanitation through underground drainage systems. The first challenge, therefore, for most countries is to define what sanitation really means. The second challenge is to decide which aspects are most important.
Sanitation covers everything from safe collection, and disposal of human excreta; to the management of solid wastes (trash or rubbish.) Each community, region or country must understand the most sensible and cost-effective way of thinking about sanitation, both in the short and long term, then establish appropriate national plans and priorities, and last but not least – implement them!
Proper sanitation is important not only from the general health point of view but it has a vital role to play in our individual and social life too. Sanitation is one of the basic amenities people must have as it has a direct link to food hygiene. Good sanitation practices prevent contamination of water and soil, and thereby, prevent diseases. The concept of sanitation is, therefore, expanded to include personal hygiene, home sanitation, safe water, garbage disposal, excreta disposal and waste water disposal.
Clean drinking water and good sanitation would not prevent infections without practicing good hygiene. The stored water supply may also serve as a source of infection in the absence of hygiene.
The year 2008 was declared the international year for sanitation, with programmes for creating awareness of the need to maintain good hygiene and sanitation practices. Hand washing is often cited as the most effective way to prevent the spread of diseases. Children can be agents of change to their peers, families and their communities and promote the importance of drinking safe water, good hygiene practice and use of safe sanitation facilities. Children are encouraged to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills that support the adoption of good hygiene behaviors and healthy living. In fact, every member of the family has a responsibility for maintaining hygiene and sanitation.
In India,rapid urbanization and the increasing population has placed a major strain on the existing infra-structure. It has affected the capacity of the government to provide clean drinking water, and effective sanitation measures. The government has tried to overcome this problem through urban development programs such Swachh Bharat, or Clean India Campaign, with contributions of corporations, and other organizations.
A nation-wide effort was launched by the Prime Minister on 15th August, 2014 to achieve the objective of Clean India (Swachh Bharat) by the year 2019, the 150th year of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Swachh Bharat Mission is to mobilize resources for improving sanitation facilities in the rural and urban areas, particularly, school premises.
Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) has been set up to attract Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds from the Corporate Sector and contributions from individuals and philanthropists in response to the call given.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is the nodal department for the overall policy, planning, funding and coordination of programmes of drinking water and sanitation in the country.
Sanitation marketing is an emerging field that applies social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up the supply and demand for improved sanitation facilities. While formative research is the foundation of any sanitation marketing program, essential to understanding what products the target population desires and what price they’re willing to pay for them, components such as the marketing mix, communications campaign, and implementation are also critical to the design and implementation of effective programs.
Many career opportunities have therefore been created for professionals to work in this sector of sanitation and good hygiene. There are opportunities in Government, private and NGOs sectors viz. government public health departments/ railways/ municipal corporations/ airports / town panchayat and industries. Qualified professionals can work as Health Inspectors, Sanitary Inspectors and Public Health Managers and Supervisors in the above mentioned departments.
*While many posts in Government departments of Health and Sanitation may not require specialised training, there are now training programmes available for those who wish to work in the specialised posts. These include -
*The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) offers Post Graduate Diploma in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at TISS, Tuljapur Campus. The Degree will be awarded by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.
*The WASH Instiutes(Wash stands for ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’.) Affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University. Eligiblity for this course is a pass in B.Sc., Chemistry and Food Technology from recognized Universities. Students of Science subjects namely Botany, Zoology and Physics can also be admitted.
*TERI University, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in association with Coca-Cola launched the Settings “initiative in short called “The WASH Program” in Kolkata.
The program will support a WASH-related risk analysis of health impacts in the slums of Kolkata, and Chennai.It will aim at building capacities of students and decision-makers, thereby promoting sustained development.
Through WASH governance strengthening activities, it aims to reach 50,000 beneficiaries in low-income settlements and over 300 professionals. It will also reach out to 2,500 students through 20 municipal schools across India through school WASH programs.
To achieve optimum benefits of water, hygiene and sanitation measures, it is important to create public awareness of the link between poor sanitation and hygiene, and the diseases. The WASH program with its different levels of activities would be effective in this regard.The importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene as keys to national development
*All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health: The Institute has been running a number of Short Courses / Training Programmes for different categories and groups of Health Force on a regular basis in coordination with State Governments/ Central Ministries/ International agencies / etc.
There are a significant number of scholarships being offered by Universities, Foreign Governments, and International Organizations that support development-related studies dealing with global health, environment, water and sanitation etc. Some scholarships also support general fields of study in the realm of social development.
*1.Rotary Foundation Global Scholarship Grants (Any Country)
The Rotary Foundation Global Grants can be used to fund scholarships with sustainable, high-impact outcomes in one of Rotary’s six areas of focus related to development: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic & community development.
*International Water Centre Scholarships for International Students (Australia) The IWC Masters Scholarships are prestigious scholarships awarded annually to high calibre international candidates accepted into the Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM) and who clearly demonstrate potential to become water leaders of the future.
*Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and WASH Institute
Lead innovative sanitation project in India by aiming for sustainable sanitation solutions in flooded areas, to reduce human vulnerability
*The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) grants three-year project support to sustainable sanitation in flooded areas in Bihar, India. The project is lead by Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, in collaboration with WASH Institute, India, and focuses on sustainable sanitation solutions in areas exposed to recurring flooding.
Sanitation and hygiene promotion needs to be better "mainstreamed" in development economies like ours. At present, promotion of sanitation and hygiene is mainly carried out through government organizations and water distribution institutions. Educational institutions can and must teach hygiene to students at all levels, and health institutions can dedicate resources for the development of sanitation and disease prevention practices.
(Usha Albuquerque is Director and Nidhi Prasad is Senior Counseling Psychologist at Careers Smart Pvt. Ltd New Delhi. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)