Community Toilet Assessment During Coronavirus Lockdown

COROs Right to Pee (RTP) campaign in collaboration with The Urban project (TUP) and UNICEF had mapped the 501 community toilets in M-East ward of MCGM with multi-stakeholder approach and grassroots voices at the core in (2018-19)

M East Ward stretches from Mankhurd Road going to Vashi, including areas such as Chembur (East), Govandi, Deonar, Baiganwadi, Shivaji Nagar, Gautam Nagar and Cheeta Camp, among others. Deonar has one of the biggest dumping grounds in the city.

M East ward has been the most vulnerable ward, the RED spot in this corona pandemic in the city, has reported several positive cases, and the officials say that newer cases were reported within hours of diagnostic clinics being set up in the slum pockets of Shivaji Nagar, Baiganwadi and Lotus Colony as they are high risk areas. Over 9 lakh people live in an areas of less than 4 sq km in shanties that are at times even ground plus two structures.

RTP in collaboration with TUP are trying to bridge the gap and create a space for dialogue between these stakeholders to resolve the issues . We did a rapid assessment of 49 toilets in 15 administrative wards and 27 communities of MEast ward. We spoke with 18 operators and 40 users and continued dialogue with 22 vigilance committees, thereafter we categorised, documented challenges, actions to be taken and issues to be resolved.

Issues that need attention:

  • All the toilets have been made free by MCGM but it has become a challenge for operation and maintenance of the toilet, as cleaning kit is unavailable and electricity and water charges exist the same.
  • Social distancing is a challenge over 9 lakh people live in an areas of less than 4 sq km in shanties that are at times even ground plus two structures.
  • Women and girls reported harassment on way to toilet as they have to walk 10 minutes to toilet from their houses
  • All have reported fear and stress about continuation of lockdown and loss of wages/work
  • Non availability handwash or soap in the toilets
  • Need of cleaning the temporary and MHADA toilets by MCGM
  • Need of basic medical support in the community as all clinics are closed and no transport to access government hospitals
  • Rise in the prices of drinking water from Rs 4 per litre to Rs 6/-
  • There is rise of new type of discrimination that is Corona ward and non-corona wards or bastis
  • Women and girls reported increase in household work, specifically cooking
  • Shrinking of spaces within and outside houses, need for ventilation spaces and dialogue

Meanwhile, our team has also been busy with -
  • Our team initiated a telephonic dialogue with the community, vigilance committees to bridge physical communication gap, empathise and give strength against fear of pandemic. In total, 236 calls to individuals community members were made.
  • Four Whatsapp groups from four wards were formed. This is a significant step by the team, since all the contact details and data is in office, and in order to initiate capacity building of vigilance committees, the team has to use technology gradually.
  • A group of 26 toilet operators became a part of the vigilance committee.
  • Google meet with toilet operators was organised to identify issues, draft statements about their issues and demands, and submit it to concerned authorities and follow up for implementation.
  • We distributed grocery to 400 people from nine wards
  • Our team followed-up with the BMC SWM and maintenance department for removing community toilet choke up and getting repairing it in 5 wards – one toilet choke up was cleared after almost 10 years with our community intervention
  • 15 cases of violence against women and other fights were dealt by the team, in the community
  • To seek attention of the BMC authorities and create a buzz, we decided to conduct a condolence meet from from 11th November to 19th November, at 13 different locations. This campaign and the collective impact resulted in toilet construction Ward 134, Rafiq nagar of Shivaji nagar. Our vigilance committee in the community played a vital role in monitoring the entire process.
  • Our team was part of three webinars on -
1. Sanitation in urban slums during pandemic’
2. Sanitation in inclusive cities by Urban Vision as part of the Leadership Network for Change at Stanford’s Centre for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

3. Evaluation & monitoring through ownership of community, a collaboration with JPal