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Water and Sanitation

USAID’s WASH programs support India's priority to provide clean water and sanitation services to all


Rapid urbanization is placing an immense strain on the Government of India’s ability to provide clean water and sanitation services to the more than 256 million people residing in its towns and cities. The negative health consequences of this deficit are evident across India, which exhibits high rates of stunting, malnutrition, and death from water-borne diseases. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified the provision of clean water and sanitation as his top priority. USAID’s WASH programs support this priority through providing technical expertise, building partnerships, sharing best practices and innovative development models, and capacity building.

USAID/India Programs:

Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign): On January 13, 2015, USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) to contribute to India’s vision of extending clean water and sanitation services to all through the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and other urban development initiatives. Under this partnership, USAID provides technical expertise, shares global best practices, and demonstrates innovative models in urban water and sanitation that have the potential to be scaled throughout India to benefit poor urban communities. As part of the MOU, USAID is also supports staffing for a Project Management Unit (PMU) within the MOUD to advance the achievement of national sanitation targets. The PMU, cofounded with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the secretariat for SBM and will be directing MOUD’s funding and overseeing its technical assistance to more than 4,000 cities in India.

Through the PMU, USAID is working to: 1) develop a monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework to support SBM’s ability to efficiently track program implementation; 2) facilitate capacity development at the national, state, and local levels to design and operate systems for sustainable sanitation; 3) develop a communications strategy to enable the MOUD, states, and urban local bodies to promote sanitation through behavior change; and 4) pilot Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions for effective program implementation. Under the MOU, USAID seeks to improve the capacity of government and non-government entities implementing the SBM at the national, state, and city levels; increase the number of people gaining access to improved drinking water and sanitation services; increase the number of local and private sector partnerships to support SBM; and increase the adoption of key WASH behaviors.

Swachh Vizag: USAID is also supporting Visakhapatnam (Vizag), the first of three smart cities identified by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 to become open defecation free by building a model sanitation system. Under the MOU with the MOUD, USAID is responding to the Visakhapatnam Municipal Commissioner’s request to: 1) provide and maintain toilets; 2) undertake behavior change programs to eliminate open defecation and motivate households to use toilets; 3) improve piped water supply through supply management and non-revenue water reduction; and 4) ensure fecal sludge operators take sludge from homes and communities to treatment points.  

Urban WASH Alliance: USAID’s newly launched Urban WASH Alliance partners with India’s public and private sectors to implement and scale innovative water and sanitation initiatives in India’s largest urban centers. Currently, the Urban WASH Alliance is supporting five public-private partnerships that are improving water and sanitation services in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. They include: 

  • Community Water Systems, Bangalore:  USAID and the for-profit social enterprise, WaterHealth India, are partnering to provide access to safe drinking water in underserved communities in Bangalore.  To date, WaterHealth India has provided 11,250 poor households in Bangalore with affordable, clean water, and is working intensively with the local communities to scale this proven solution to 32,000 poor households across the city.
  • Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings:  USAID, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University, and Coca Cola India are partnering on risk analysis and participatory intervention strategies in the Kolkata and Chennai urban slums, while also building the capacity of university faculty and students through a model sanitation curriculum.  The program will reach 20 municipal schools, 2,500 students and 50,000 beneficiaries with water and sanitation services in low-income settlements. Additionally, the program will reach more than 300 professionals through WASH governance strengthening activities.  Through the TERI University program, 350 youth have been engaged in a national water competition and WASH challenge surveys have been conducted in Kolkata and Chennai, along with training sessions for municipal managers.
  • Ahmedabad Sanitation Action Lab (ASAL): In Ahmedabad, USAID is partnering with the Ahmedabad Urban Management Center (UMC), the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, and Sintex —the world’s largest producer of plastic water tanks — to reach more than 100,000 people with water and sanitation services through school and community-based WASH approaches. The program supports hands-on technical assistance, community engagement, and improved management processes to strengthen water and sanitation services. With USAID support, the Government of Gujarat’s Mahatma Gandhi Clean Mission (UMC) is supporting a sanitation index to monitor levels in government-owned and run offices, providing evidence for data-driven solutions. UMC’s design guidelines for WASH are also being used to construct new toilets in schools in Ahmedabad. On the national level, UMC has assisted the Ministry of Urban Development to establish an e-course portal where case studies of proven sanitation practices will be shared with all 4,041 Indian cities.
  • Level-Up Taps and Toilets in Slum Homes in Delhi:  USAID and the Government of Delhi are supporting the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) to promote healthy outcomes for the poor — especially women and children — in select slum settlements of Delhi. This will sustainably reduce household poverty by promoting service equity, improving liquid and solid waste management and creating health awareness. The program is working in poor settlements in Delhi to connect the city’s unserved areas to water and sanitation infrastructure and service providers. Through this program, CURE will reach more than 40,000 households in approximately 60 slums, facilitate the setup of 4,000 individual toilets, and provide safe drinking water to 10,000 households.
  • India Sanitation Coalition: USAID is actively engaged in the India Sanitation Coalition’s task force, which was formed by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry—India’s largest industry association.  This coalition serves as a multi-sectoral platform to bring organizations and individuals together to find sustainable solutions for sanitation through sharing best practices, as well as through partnerships, collaboration, and advocacy.

Our Achievements So Far:

  • Built an online sanitation index for the Government of Gujarat to monitor the use and maintenance of toilet facilities in government offices 
  • Developed digital tools to improve water service delivery
  • Launched an e-learning platform for city managers across 4,041 cities
  • Engaged students and university faculty through an online water, sanitation and hygiene curriculum
  • Launched a pilot test for mobile applications to capture and track details related to public and community toilet use
  • Built a digital engagement platform to increase citizens’ participation
  • Piloted a Swachh Bharat Mission Management Information System application in 53 cities to capture, review, and monitor the implementation of toilet construction and use
  • Will help train 158,000 individuals through e-learning platforms, exposure visits, and city-level technical assistance to address the entire sanitation service chain