Ms. Prathibha Singh is the Executive Officer (EO) of Chunar Nagar Palika Parishad, a densely populated area of Uttar Pradesh situated between the rivers of Ganga and Jargo. With her eyes and mind set on effectively managing waste and mainstream Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) in Chunar along with equitable toilet facilities for women, Pratibha Singh is beating the odds. Championing the role of a woman officer in decision-making, capacity building and educating students on sanitation, Ms. Singh has been associated with the Uttar Pradesh Government since 2007 and has navigated challenges around water and sanitation before and during the pandemic. Driven to ensure equitable access to clean water and toilet facilities for women, she is committed to her dream of achieving an efficient and sustainable sanitation value chain.
A working partnership was established with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to push for Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) in Uttar Pradesh and as a result, a TSU in Chunar was established in August 2019 post the signing of the MOU between CSE and Chunar Nagar Palika Parishad (CNPP). The main motto of this partnership was to provide strong technical support to FSM and wastewater management in Chunar. “We steadily progressed in effectively managing fault-lines in its sanitation value chain before the pandemic struck the nation in early 2020”, informed Singh.
LEADERSHIP THAT ENSURED SAFE SANITATION IN THE PANDEMIC
Before 2020, Chunar’s septic tanks were solely connected to open drains, but under the leadership of Ms. Singh, masons were trained by CSE and NPPC to ensure that on-site sanitation systems were built efficiently. Ms. Singh shared that the lack of information and awareness regarding the virus was a potential source of panic amongst the sanitation workers. However, CSE’s technical support during the pandemic has been instrumental in spreading awareness and training workers during the initial stages of the pandemic. Over 120 PPE kits were supplied to sanitation workers during this time.
In spite of the increased scare due to the pandemic, Ms. Singh believes that the reduced waste from hotels and industries is an opportunity to design better strategies for waste management. Despite a reduction in the monetary budget, Ms. Singh has been able to prepare and disseminate communication materials and collaterals on FSM in collaboration with CSE.
Despite lockdowns and her team members getting infected with COVID, Ms. Singh keeps her spirits high. She has her eyes set on Chunar effectively managing waste and wants to mainstream FSM along with equitable community toilets and public toilet facilities for women.