“We are happy and excited today. We feel we have done something worthwhile and hence feel special. We feel proud to celebrate the completion of one year of our collective work. Indeed it’s a very special day for all of us”
(Ms. Kusum, CMC member, Kalyanpuri)
“It’ has been a shared journey of success. The positive change that we experience in our settlement today is a result of the collective effort of officials, young adolescents, male enablers and CMC members. If the CTCs are functioning well, it is because of this collaborative effort.”
(Ms. Tabassum, CMC member, Sunlight Colony)
“Yes it is indeed a day of celebration but we shouldn’t get carried away and continue with our work. We have achieved a lot but we still have a long way to go. It is going to be a continuous struggle and we should work together as a team.”
(Ms. Vimla, Founder Member, MPM)
A unique and very special event, held on October 12, 2017, by the Mahila Pragati Manch (MPM), Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) to celebrate the success of the urban sanitation programme and share, reflect and advance community engagement processes for bettering urban sanitation. read the report here
But the day clearly belonged to the 381 change agents – members of Community Management Committees (CMCs), Peer Educators, Grassroots Communicators and the Editorial Team of Wall Newspapers, Sanitation Workers, Caretakers and Male representatives – who were showered with accolades for the work they have been doing over the last year to strengthen the quality of life and improve access to basic civic and sanitation services across 13 clusters and less serviced settlements in South, South-East, East and North-East Delhi.
As Rinki, a Community Management Committee (CMC) member of Rajasthani Camp, New Delhi said, “It is very important to respect those who are providing support and services to the community for a better life”, while stressing on the importance of acknowledging the efforts of those who are the real agent of change and without whom no mega plans can be effective.
Meanwhile, Kaif of Sanjay Colony spoke of how, “Street plays and wall paintings helped me reinvent myself. Now I am confident and I understand what’s right and what’s wrong. I have also started asking questions.” Clearly he was grateful for being associated with a programme like this and the processes that have helped to create possibilities for young adolescents like him to engage in meaningful and life changing activities.
On a more practical note, Soni, a school going girl from Rajasthani camp, pointed out that since, “Organizations like CFAR will come and go. We need to learn to live on our own. We cannot be dependent for long.” Indicating thereby that young people like her were ready and confident to address the everyday challenges that come their way.
Mr. Shyam Sundar, a male enabler, meanwhile questioned gender stereotyping and spoke of the importance of ensuring “equal rights and privileges for women”, collaborating with women and exploring innovative ways of livelihood options.
As we celebrate the success of the programme, which has been a difficult and challenging journey, it is obvious that much remains to be done. The voices quoted above may be supportive and clearly reflect a well coordinated workforce that is geared towards a scalable solution, which is imperative for bringing change. But this will not suffice in itself. A lot still needs to be done, the most important being that of creating a sustainable model for optimum result.
In the context of sanitation, what we have seen thus far is that some of the settlements we have been working with have understood the importance of sanitation and undertaken necessary steps but others are still struggling to contextualize the process. The real challenge therefore lies in identifying those that have been left behind ones, bridging the gaps that are impeding their progress and adequately capacitating them.
These steps must also be reinforced with innovative ideas to strengthen capacity, develop the right technology, understand the skill set of stakeholders, formulate realistic goals and support programme implementation. But more importantly, there must be the realization that, while there are mega projects with mega agendas, visible change will come only when the community is strengthened and supported.
By Dr. Sutapa Majumdar, CFAR
November 6, 2017