Sentir logo

Water sanitation & Hygiene

WASSAN believes that watershed management and improved rain-fed farming systems would certainly improve the economic standards of rural communities. However, improving economic standards is not synonymous with improved livelihoods and quality of life. In several villages and peri-urban settlements, basic needs such as safe drinking water and sanitation are still elusive.

Enhancing sustainable and equitable WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services is an integral part of livelihoods enhancement process. When watershed projects are supporting the economic and ecological revival, systems that provide WASH services help in improving the overall quality of life and comfort levels of communities.

WASSAN strives to build knowledge systems on WASH sector, which inform the policy and practice. Following Life Cycle Costs approach, WASSAN intends to develop a comprehensive framework for provision of WASH services that are community centric sustainable, affordable and equitable.

WASSAN intends to spread the message of safe drinking water and sanitation to all those villages, where watershed projects are being implemented to make the efforts comprehensive. For this purpose, WASSAN intends to collaborate with a large number of partners who share this vision.

WASSAN’s engagement with water, sanitation and hygiene began with WASHCost (India) project. This is a collaborative research project (2008-12) that is organized in Andhra Pradesh (India); Ghana, Mozambique and Burkina Faso. IRC, Netherlands was providing overall guidance to partners and coordinating with Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded this research study.  


WASHCost (India) Project aimed at understanding and assessing the costs of providing WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) services in rural and peri-urban settlements. Centre for Economic & Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, Livelihoods, Natural Resource Management Institute (LNRMI), Hyderabad and WASSAN are partners in India for conducting this research study.


Framework for Estimating WASH Costs:

With changing technologies, availability of sustainable sources and complex nature of individual behavior, the provision of WASH services is becoming increasingly challenging, not only to the state, but also to others. The early assessment related to costing of WASH services (during field work) broadly indicates that there are several dimensions to Cost of WASH services, such as – financial costs (capital/ operational and maintenance); environmental costs; social costs (burden/ equity/ exclusion related); institutional costs. There is a need to organize information related to these costs in a systematic manner. WASHCost Project basically aims at generating new and relevant knowledge on these dimensions of WASH Cost services in different socio economic situations, across the globe, using a Common Information Framework.  To begin with, WASHCost project aims at generating cost related information using the following framework.

  • CapEx Hardware: (What is the Capital Investment in fixed assets for WASH services?)
  • CapEx Software (What are the “One-off” work with communities to prepare construction and management (pre-construction community work)
  • Cost of Capital (What is the interest, if the project is implemented with borrowed money?)
  • OpEx: Operation and minor maintenance expenditure (What is the cost of operation and maintenance?)
  • CapManEx: (Capital Maintenance Expenditure (What is the cost of asset renewal and replacement costs?)
  • Direct Support Costs: (What are the costs of post construction support activities that reach the community or operator?)
  • Indirect Support Costs (What are the costs of creating macro level support, planning and policy making?)
  • Supplementary HH Costs (e.g. direct and indirect costs at the household level to supplement the unmet demand -quantity or quality).

(Source: MV Rama Chandrudu, etc, Institutional Mapping and Analysis of WASH Services and Costs, (Dec 2009) – CESS, Hyderabad) 


Roles Performed by WASSAN in WASHCost (India) Project:

As part of this collaborative research project, WASSAN took the following responsibilities.

  • Anchoring the research component on Transparency, Accountability and Participation in WASH Services
  • Conducting an assessment of “Value for Money” in WASH services
  • Authoring working papers on selected themes
  • Hand holding the field level investigators during the field work
  • Support to CESS for data collection, data cleaning and rationalization processes
  • Process Documentation
  • Management of Project Web Site (India Page) including developing content and publishing on the web site
  • Media engagement
  • Project Management team
  • Facilitating the process of spreading of research messages back to the villages
  • Support in piloting Life Cycle Cost Approach based action planning in Done Mandal, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh


The research project is divided into the following phases: 



Inception and Test bed Phase:

During this phase, the methodologies/ tools and research framework are designed, field tested and finalized. The field work was conducted 3 villages of Ranga Reddy District during the first one year of the project period (2008-09). During the same period, research advisory committee was also constituted with concerned stakeholders – representatives/ senior government officers of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Department of Urban Administration, Department of Rural Development; Irrigation, AMR-APARD, etc.


WASSAN team conducted base line surveys of test-bed villages and piloted the methodologies for WASH governance – mainly on transparency, accountability and participation at village level in these villages. Based on the experiences from test-bed villages and the guidance and inputs from advisory committee members, the research methodology and sampling strategies were finalized by the end of this phase.


Research Phase:

During this phase, field work was conducted as per the agreed protocols and time lines. Coordination with concerned departments was an important part of this phase. The field work was conducted in 107 villages in 9 agro-climatic zones and 10 prei-urban centers of Andhra Pradesh. WASSAN provided necessary guidance and support to field work, apart from engaging developing communication products (web articles, interviews, case studies, engagement with media, etc). WASSAN also conducted several training programs and workshop during this phase. WASSAN team authored few working papers on WASH issues, during this phase. WASSAN conducted writeshop on good practices in WASH service delivery and governance (including transparency, accountability, participation), which showcased different good practices in India.     


Embedding Phase:  

During this phase, WASSAN facilitated the process of spreading the messages from research study to policy makers, government officers/ people’s representatives, academic institutions, donors and others. As a result of WASSAN’s efforts, representative of CESS got an opportunity to share the messages/ recommendations of research project with the working group on drinking water and sanitation, constituted by Planning Commission, Government of India. Similarly, several agencies working on WASH issues took a close look at life cycle costs based approaches in planning and executing WASH projects. These agencies are – government agencies such as State Level Nodal Agency of Integrated Watershed Management Projects; Water & Land Management Training Institution, Irrigation Department, GoAP, etc.


WASSAN also supported the process of developing action plans for WASH services based on Life Cycle Costs based approaches in Done Mandal, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh. WASSAN actively spread the messages/ recommendations of the research project.


The research project was formally completed by December 2012.   

Current Engagements

Crystal Drops

Securing safe drinking water and total sanitation in rural areas of India is still a distant dream. There are limited good practices and role models in promoting community centric drinking water sanitation systems that provide sustainable services. Considering this gap, WASSAN working for improving the livelihoods of rural communities, has decided to take up this initiative in which a cluster of villages would transform themselves into role model villages in securing safe drinking water & total sanitation. This initiative would be taken up in 16 villages of Parigi and Doma mandals of Ranga Reddy district, Telangan.


The objectives of this project are:

  1. To secure safe drinking water and total sanitation in selected villages
  2. To provide institutional base for sustainable and equitable WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) services in the selected villages
  3. To demonstrate community centric and innovative approaches for providing WASH services at scale


Project Partner:

Funding Partner: Water Program, HSBC, Hitech City, Hyderabad, India

Community Partners: Water &Sanitation Committees, Grama Panchayats and local institutions such as watershed management committees in the villages 


Number of villages to be covered:

16 Nos in Parigi and Doma Mandals, Ranga Reddy District, Telangana


Time Period:

Sep 2013 to Aug 2016


Project Components:

  1. WASH Visions – Planning for Sustainable and Equitable WASH Services:
    1. WASSAN has already developed detailed project reports (DPRs) for watershed management projects. As there are few gaps in these projects (particularly from WASH services point of view), WASSAN is evolving a Water Security Plans, which address water related issues in a comprehensive manner.
    2. As part of Crystal Drops, WASSAN will develop specific action plans for ensuring sustainable and equitable WASH services. These plans would be called “WASH Visions”. WASSAN has considerable expertise for developing these WASH Visions, as it already evolved the methodologies as part of a research project – WASHCost (India) Project.
    3. These WASH Visions will clearly indicate the objectives; proposed interventions and costs related to provision of sustainable & equitable WASH services.


  1. Provision of WASH Facilities for Safe Water and Total Sanitation
    1. WASH Visions would be the basis for provision of necessary WASH facilities in each village. Some of the potential facilities are the following.
    2. Provision of safe drinking water facilities: This includes extension of existing drinking water supply systems; establishing water treatment plants; establishing household level tap connections; public stand posts; ensuring equal service levels by re-fixing the heights of household level taps, removing illegal tap connections’ removing pit-taps, provision of dedicated power supply system for drinking water, etc.
    3. Sanitation at Household level: This includes provision of household level sanitation facilities such as toilets; waste water disposal systems; solid waste disposal systems.
    4. Environmental Sanitation at Habitation Level: This includes provision of facilities for liquid waste disposals such as drainage facilities/ underground sewage systems; solid waste management systems such as garbage collection; compost pits; incinerating arrangements.
    5. School Sanitation and Public Toilets: As part of this project, all schools in the selected villages would have school sanitation blocks. Wherever needed, public toilets would also be established to support to those families which could not have toilets at home (due to space constraint/ houses on hard rocks, etc)


  1. Ensuring sustainability of drinking water sources:
    1. Where ever needed, water harvesting structures/ recharge pits would be constructed to recharge the groundwater and sustain the existing sources of drinking water.
    2. For this purpose, efforts would be made to access funds from other government schemes such as watershed management projects in these villages too.


  1. Community based Systems for Sustainable WASH Services:
    1. As part of this project, drinking water & sanitation committee would be established in each habitation and village to ensure that local community is actively integrated into the management & governance of the WASH services. This committee would have adequate members from women and other disadvantaged communities in the village.
    2. For regular operation and maintenance of the water supply and sanitation systems, the above committee would evolve appropriate water tariff systems and collaborations with local Gram Panchayati. A water man and staff would be appointed by Gram Panchayati and drinking water & sanitation committee for maintenance purpose. This project would provide necessary support to this committee in operationalizing these arrangements.
    3. This committee also ensures that there are no wastes of water; illegal ways of accessing the water; etc.


  1. Water School:
    1. It is a common knowledge that facilities/ infrastructure “alone” will not bring the required attitudinal changes in the rural community, particularly on sanitation and hygiene related practices. It is amply proved that considerable investment on individual toilets is wasted as these are not used by rural families. This project intends to break away from this normal practice – “where facilities are constructed and are never used”. For making this decisive move, WASSAN intends to establish “Water School” (Jalam Badi in Telugu Language)
    2. Livelihoods Resource Centre of WASSAN at Parigi would function as Water School for this project, while a cadre of community resource persons functions as extension workers of the Water School.
    3. Water Schools will perform the following functions:
      1. Organize series of learning programs for rural communities (children; women; youth; adolescent girls; men; opinion makers – school teachers; anganwadi teachers; functionaries of local institutions; leaders in the village – Gram Panchayati members; watershed committee members; others such as NGO staff/ government officers/ peoples representatives, etc).
      2. These learning programs include – exposure visits to good practice villages; participation in learning/fun games; watching video films; wall writings; participation in training programs; communication campaigns,
  • Engagement of HSBC Teams/ Volunteers: As part of the learning programs, stream of volunteers from HSBC are expected to visit the project villages regularly and be part of the development process. This direct engagement is expected to give an insight on the project and its results to the volunteers.
  1. Water Science Museum: The Water School will also have a museum of different technologies/ models on water and sanitation, with necessary audio visual materials, etc. This museum accumulates relevant communication materials; develops new communication materials to share the good practices; technology and social norms in promoting sustainable and equitable WASH services.
  2. Organization of Water Festivals: There are numerous festivals in which water and water bodies are worshiped traditionally. These festivals are slowly dying and the water resource management is getting de-cultured. The Water School revises these cultural events/ festivals and highlights the importance safe water, sanitation and hygiene in our lives. The Water School also promotes new festivals/ events in which community members celebrate safety of water resources; sanitation and hygiene in a collective manner.
  3. Water School also establishes a laboratory to test the water quality on regular basis and use this information to promote knowledge on water resources in the project village.










Source Sustainability of Drinking Water Sources:


Project Partner:

Bala Vikasa, Warangal, Telangana

Water and Health India / Jala Dhara Foundation, Hyderabad  


Number of villages to be covered:


Time Period:


Objectives of this Initiative:

  1. To evolve models/ protocols for ensuring source sustainability of drinking water sources where, Bala Vikasa has already established water purifying plants.
  2. To improve the organizational capacities of Bala Vikasa in promoting participatory groundwater management practices/ principles for ensuring sustained and ecologically sensitive drinking water supply systems


Proposed Strategies/ Activities:

  1. WASSAN’s Regional Resource Centre for Groundwater Management could anchor this initiative from WASSAN side.
  2. WASSAN offers the following support services to its partners
    1. Develop a comprehensive framework for assessing the groundwater situation; augmenting the same and treating the waste water/ minimizing the waste waters. A workshop would be conducted for this purpose, in which members of Participatory Groundwater Management Network members and other experts on this theme would be invited. This workshop would “set the tone” for the future course of action. After this first step, details of next steps could be developed (though tentatively, these steps are proposed – b to g).
    2. Develop water security plans with a clear focus on source sustainability of all drinking water sources of the water plants and other sources such as hand pumps, etc.
    3. Developing aquifer maps and supporting the local communities/ teams of local partners in promoting comprehensive strategies/ plans for water resource management (surface, groundwater, rainwater; different types of uses – drinking water, livestock; agriculture; etc)
    4. Identify local para-hydro-geologists and volunteers and build their capacities to profile local aquifers and conduct assessment groundwater through participatory hydrological monitoring, etc.
    5. Support teams of partners and local villagers in accessing the funds from on-going government programs for water conservation related activities
    6. Pilot/ promote innovative ideas on treating waste water from the water plants to ensure environmental sustainability and ecological security
    7. Organizing training programs to village level functionaries/ team of partners on the above themes
  3. It is important to develop a greater common understanding on the source sustainability related issues and practices, among both partners and villagers. The initial phase of partnership could be in developing water security plans (with a clear focus on geo-hydrological features; source sustainability and convergence) in limited number of villages. These pilots/ models could be studied (in terms of results and community level practices/ behavior changes) and up-scaled in due course of time.