Habitat Observatory

    Bio-Sand Filters – The source of clean water

In the high Andes farmers and their animals frequently share the same mountain streams - and the water people drink is often contaminated with animal faeces and human waste. As a result, many people fall sick with water-born diseases.
However, there are alternatives for reducing damage by cattle which include the protection of springs and water courses, reduction of the effect of diffuse pollution and the transformation of homogeneous pastures into silvopastoral systems. With these practices, cattle grazing are the only way to contribute to improve water quality and regulate the hydrological cycle at micro-watershed level with benefits for the environment and local population.
Therefore, the Quechuan communities are too remote to make mains water supplies practical. So Practical Action is helping families to build biosand filters for their homes. These simple concrete tanks filled with sand and gravel can remove 99% of harmful pathogens from contaminated water.
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Bio-sand Filter


    Rural Sanitation Programme: Making Rural Lives Healthy

A case of Midnapore District, West Bengal

Quality of life improves with good hygienic practices, access to proper sanitary facilities and improvement of environmental sanitation. Adoption of sanitary practices also reduces disease burden, particularly water borne diseases. This is even more relevant to the people living below poverty line, who suffer more from common and preventable diseases due to lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities. In the interest of sustainable development, access to sanitary facilities and use of safe and quality drinking water have been adduced high priority and the earlier Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) was scaled up and launched as Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) as a centrally sponsored programme in the year 1999.  The programme is currently being implemented by this department in West Bengal in all the 18 rural districts, including the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council DGHC area in Darjeeling.

The modalities for taking up sanitation programme in an intensive manner in collaboration with the NGOs were developed in Midnapore during the early 90s.  Under this model, the responsibility of delivery of sanitation related services is entrusted with a suitable NGO in each block on recommendation of the Zilla Parishad.  The NGO sets up a Rural Sanitary Mart (RSM) for manufacturing various sanitary items and arranges to install the same as per demand through their trained personnel. Costs of various sanitary items are fixed by the state government and the RSMs are allowed certain profit for financial self-sufficiency.

The strength of the programme is the participation of the people, which is promoted by the panchayats through generation of awareness about the good hygienic practices. The panchayats are responsible for taking up the campaign in their respective areas and developing an efficient system for delivery of sanitation related supplies and services in collaboration with the suitable NGO.  Such partnerships with NGOs started as a strategy during the nineties and the same was further strengthened under the TSC. Considerable success has been achieved through the implementation of TSC in the state. At the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, only 4.74 per cent of the rural households in the district had access to sanitary toilets and this rose to around 80 per cent as per Census, 2001.  After the TSC was launched as many as 7, 83,623 household toilets have been constructed in the district, apart from all the primary and secondary schools.

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