First of all, I would like to apologize for my raspy voice that decided to make an appearance on the day of this interview. My immune system has proven to be less than sufficient over the past few weeks. Regardless of this, I have been trying to figure out the best way to structure my first blog post. This has been unexpectedly challenging for me – not in that I did not have enough to say, but in that I had too much that I wanted to tackle. The last month has been dedicated to familiarizing myself with a project titled ‘Strengthening Civil Society of the Urban Poor to Participate in Planning and Monitoring of Sanitation Services in Indian Cities’. The complexities that exist within the issue of urban sanitation in India are profuse. It is therefore extremely difficult to grasp an overall understanding of why basic sanitation facilities do not exist in many informal settlements; and the devastations that stems from lacking sanitation needs such as clean water, and functional toilets.
One particular aspect that has stuck out to me in trying to form a basic understanding of the complex project has been that of the governmental tier in India; focusing on this has been helpful in solidifying (some) context and background of the project. One bit of history that I think worth mentioning is the 74th Amendment Act of 1992 – a constitutional amendment that ultimately gave validity to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) by outlining the structures, functions, and resource generation capabilities of ULBs. Logistically, this amendment was supposed to enable more people to participate in the decision making process of everything from economics to infrastructure.
Once again, it is seemingly impossible to simplify the significance of this amendment and its relation to urban sanitation. Thus, instead of attempting to explain the diversity of this project (which would probably have confused whoever listening, as well as myself, even more), I decided to conduct a casual interview with two of my coworkers, who do a MUCH better job than myself at “boiling it down”. Thank you to Sukrit and Swathi for the insightful discussion!