Women transforming WASH scenario across Delhi slums

WaterAid India/Poulomi Basu

Nari Nirmal Awas Samiti (NNAS), community level cadre of strong, vocal and active women leaders in slums of Delhi is a strong process of building up citizen centric governance mechanism.

The core idea of forming NNAS is to make women strong leaders in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) transformation process in their areas. With their dedicated efforts, these women are working towards providing access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene across the slums of Delhi. Currently, in more than 20 slums of Delhi a strong cadre of NNAS exists.

With the following basic steps, the process of transformation has been made possible –

  • Identifying the right community leader
  • Capacity building and empowerment of leaders

Community leaders have been identified through community consultation processes. Post identification, a series of capacity building processes for these identified leaders was a crucial step for their functioning –

  • Adding to the knowledge base of the leaders – Through capacity building workshops, training programs, meetings and exposure visits, efforts were made to enhance the knowledge base of community leaders, focusing on clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene requirements of the communities. Also, the leaders were educated about the process they need to follow in order to solve any water, sanitation and hygiene related issue in their area, keeping in view the officials that need to be approached in such situations.
  • Empowering the leaders – Empowerment happens when a person breaks out of the fear of authority, social taboos and personal fears, and begins to believe in his/her ability to make life better. Several methods have been adopted to create a feeling of empowerment in the potential leaders. Some of the activities done in order to empower the women are:
  1. Repeated interaction with government officials at all levels.
  2. Awareness sessions conducted by the leaders for the community members. This clearly helps them become the knowledge leaders of the community.
  3. All letters of concern and pleas based on the community’s situation, are signed by them.
  4. The women are also awarded, so as to boost their confidence, by the VVIPs.

The dual thrust towards building knowledge base and empowerment is the key reason behind all Naari Nirmal Awaas Samiti leaders being well informed, strong, and effective agents of change in their respective communities.

Thus, the way forward is to merge Nari Nirmal Awas Samiti into Mahasangh (a larger association) to take up significant advocacy initiatives for improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene services for the poor and marginalised across the slums of Delhi. While the process is still on, the Nari Nirmal Awas Samiti is moving ahead with greater vigor and strength. Interestingly, the veteran members in the Samiti are now acting as peer educators as well.

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