A resident of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Phoolwati is a vocal champion for sanitation rights.
Phoolwati lives in a densely populated neighborhood, where the average household unit comprises 10 to 15 members – with only one toilet shared among all members. Some of the households lack even one toilet. Due to the elevation at which her basti (informal, densely populated settlement) is situated and the lack of space, people are unable to construct toilets for their households, despite great need.
In the absence of Individual Household Toilets (IHHTs), the need for the construction of a Community Toilet in the neighborhood was felt. During the COVID-19 lockdown, this need was recognized with greater urgency. Due to high restrictions on mobility, people could not venture far from their homes to access toilets in other areas, they were turned away by the police. Phoolwati was moved by the immense distress this caused her community, who were left with no dignified means to fulfill their sanitation needs.
She conferred with the members of the Single Window Forum and it was decided that the first order of business was setting up a toilet for people of the community who had to resort to open defecation and also for passers-by through the neighborhood. Single Window Forum is a community-facilitated platform, set up by the Centre for Advocacy and Research, that brings together service providers of the municipal corporation and end-users who reside in informal settlements to enable delivery of timely and affordable sanitation services.
As someone who was a firm believer that toilets must foster safety and inclusivity for everyone, especially those who are vulnerable in society such as pregnant women, senior citizens, people with disabilities and adolescent girls, she ensured that the toilet infrastructure is sensitive to the differential needs of different citizen groups. The toilet has helped prevent open defecation in her neighborhood, resulting in dignified access to sanitation as well as more healthy and hygienic environments.
Click here to read on more about Single Window Forum and community management centers instituted by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (a member of the NFSSM Alliance) are advocating for and institutionalizing inclusive sanitation: https://cfar.org.in/category/uncategorized/