Making Community and Public Toilets Safe and Hygienic

Donata Mary Rodrigues, Swapnil S Barai, Sasikumar Eswaramurthy | 2023


Community and Public Toilets (CT/PTs) play an essential role in the provision of safe sanitation services. The urban poor and commuters in transit are largely dependent on CT/PTs. Though a basic necessity, most CT/PTs across cities and towns in India are poorly maintained. Instances of users misusing the toilets for other activities continues to be a concern. Improper user behaviour is the primary reason for the poor condition of these facilities.

Creating a strong Operation and Maintenance (O&M) model is key to improving this situation. With the aim of helping the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) to identify effective O&M models, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS)-led Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP) is conducting a pilot study at CT/PTs across 11 locations.

The pilot study also explores how CT/PTs can become further accessible and gender inclusive. TNUSSP has designed Behavioural Change Communication campaigns to address CTPT users’ behaviours. In the six months since the pilot programme’s introduction, there has been an increase in users across toilets. Presently, three O&M management models are being piloted: private, self-help group and individual entrepreneurs.