Inclusive Development in India: USAID Partners with Local Transgender Community on WASH

USAID WASH team conducts a monitoring visit at the fecal sludge treatment unit in Cuttack. Photo credit: USAID/India.

Challenge 1: All over the world, including in India, transgender individuals are targets of discrimination and often lack legal recognition of their gender identity and access to essential services such as education, employment, as well as safe and stigma-free health care.

Challenge 2: In India, stress on water and sanitation services is growing, with more than 60 percent of India’s population currently living in urban areas and a rapidly increasing urban population.

Challenge 3: Sanitation workers and urban poor communities face the most severe consequences of poor sanitation. Less than fifty percent of India’s urban population has access to safe sanitation and sewage treatment services, and virtually no urban communities have a reliable, clean water supply.

To address these challenges, in India, USAID’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs increase access to safe water and sanitation, improve public sanitation services, train skilled professionals on septage management, and increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation services for India’s poor and underserved communities. Ultimately, this work results in improved livelihoods and better health for urban communities.

Throughout its work in WASH and other sectors, USAID values and promotes inclusion. USAID India promotes community-managed sanitation infrastructure, which fosters both ownership and sustainability. Engaging populations in vulnerable situations through livelihood opportunities within the sanitation sector is crucial for their empowerment and progress. USAID promotes the rights and inclusion of marginalized and underrepresented populations in the development process, including indigenous and tribal peoples, LGBTQI+ people, women and girls, scheduled castes, persons with disabilities, and youth.

For example, in 2021, USAID partnered with India’s WASH Institute, the Odisha state government, and the Odisha Water Academy to provide skills training for local self help groups formed in the community to address local issues in more than 1,000 cities and towns to learn how to operate and manage fecal sludge treatment plants. Importantly, the program targeted youth, women, and transgender individuals.

Read the rest of this article on the Global Waters Medium page.