Dr. Shafia Wani, a dedicated advocate for sanitation in Jammu & Kashmir, stands at the forefront of revolutionizing urban sanitation practices in the region. Her illustrious journey intertwines her passion for public welfare with her role as an integral part of the Government’s Jammu & Kashmir Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development. Dr. Wani's work isn't confined to merely training and policy interventions; it spans a vast spectrum, focusing on capacitating various stakeholders at multiple levels of governance.
Her journey into the realm of sanitation commenced when she became increasingly aware of the dire need for improvement in sanitation practices within the region. The context of the state's unsatisfactory sanitation practices, leading to adverse health outcomes and environmental degradation, fueled her passion for initiating transformative change.
A trailblazer in Kashmir's sanitation domain, Dr. Wani had a distinguished role in initiating and revolutionizing faecal sludge management in J&K. Her journey in this field stands as a beacon of change, driven by a profound desire to rectify the inadequacies in sanitation practices that have plagued the region for years. Her involvement in the Swachh Bharat Mission since its inception wasn't merely about individual household latrines but extended to identifying critical gaps in sanitation practices beyond access to toilets. Dr. Wani recognized a glaring omission in faecal sludge management, liquid waste, and solid waste handling. This insight led her to devise innovative strategies to address these overlooked yet vital aspects. Her journey began with a stark realization that the prevailing focus on individual latrines was incomplete without addressing the aftermath - the management of waste generated. She recognized the potential hazards posed by unmanaged faecal sludge and wastewater before ODF++ was mainstreamed. Her vision extended beyond immediate fixes, pushing for a holistic solution to tackle this issue at its core.
As part of her efforts, she first focused on training sessions and awareness programs targeting a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Her approach wasn't one-size-fits-all; it was a nuanced, personalized endeavor aimed at local leaders, government officials, and frontline workers. These sessions were specifically tailored to highlight the criticality of proper fecal sludge management and its impact on health and the environment. One of the most impactful aspects of Dr. Wani's work was the application of theoretical knowledge in practical settings. Field visits, workshops, and hands-on training became integral to her strategy. By collaborating with local bodies and organizations like WASH Institute, she facilitated training sessions that provided insights into on-ground challenges and effective management techniques. An anecdote that resonates with her journey involves engaging an elderly person initially resistant to change. Through empathy and patient explanation, she transformed his outlook, turning him into a vocal advocate for better sanitation practices. This anecdote highlights her ability to connect with communities and change mindsets effectively. Dr. Wani’s belief system centers community well-being and participation. With those two tenets coming together, she has knowingly ensured sanitation practices that are sustainable and not driven by the top administration, instead driven by the people and for the people.
Dr. Wani envisions a Kashmir with robust waste management systems in place, ensuring efficient faecal sludge management, wastewater treatment, and proper waste disposal. Her emphasis on awareness and software-level changes remains at the forefront of her vision for a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future. Her unwavering commitment to faecal sludge management epitomizes her dedication to transforming sanitation practices in Kashmir. Her journey signifies not just individual efforts but a clarion call for collective action towards a comprehensive and effective waste management system, safeguarding the health of communities and the environment.
Dr. Wani's vision for the state of Jammu and Kashmir revolves around comprehensive sanitation management. Her aspirations encompass efficient wastewater and solid waste management systems, reducing pollution of natural water bodies like the famous Dal Lake.