Capacity Building in Sanitation

India is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the world and there has been a lot of interest in understanding the ways of urban development, particularly urban sanitation with regards to government programs, and capacity-building efforts. Capacity building is an all-encompassing process of learning and, organisation development, while enabling environment for sanitation policy. Capacity development should be an integral part of organizations involved in delivering effective urban sanitation. It is possible only when all relevant stakeholders are provided with learning and growth opportunities. In a government capacity building initiative, it is critical to have an enabling policy and program funding to translate capacity building input into program and infrastructure outputs.

The 2017 National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) opened the path for the development of infrastructure and systems for septage management, with a focus on FSSM capacity development. With increased accessibility, widespread acceptance, streamlining finances, and beneficial sanitation outcomes, the capacity building programs have demonstrated greater success when combined with existing sanitation initiatives or programs.

Capacity building plan consists of strategic interventions at Individual and Institutional levels

Individual capacity building

The key features of individual capacity building are demand driven periodic training, recognition of practices and functionaries, independent assessment of training outcomes, mentoring and peer networking. The training schedule typically involves following activities

  • Strategic training plan based on Training Needs Assessment (TNA)
  • Exposure visits
  • Workshops, seminars, research studies and documentation
  • Focusing on coaching and task-related assistance from peers and mentors
  • Visibility, including preparation of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials

Institutional capacity of ULBs through consulting firms and other entities.

The aim of Institutional capacity building is to improve service delivery, resource mobilization, citizen empowerment, accountability, and transparency with the help of external experts and professionals.

  • At Institutional level, it is necessary to decentralize the administration, powers, induct professionals into the administration and providing adequate training to the existing staff.
  • Enrol consulting firms for complete end-to-end project development and management in capacity building
  • Mobilizing external resources by outsourcing activity/job, and human resources supply to third-party companies would improve internal resource generation of the ULBs
  • Develop multi-layer Geographic Information System (GIS) maps connected to data to enable ULBs to use GIS for decision-making; some other ways of data generation are, citizens’ report cards, citizens’ monitoring committees, self-assessment system, and inter-city competitions
  • States/UTs should explore the possibility of using Public Private Partnerships (PPP) that includes Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with strong citizen feedback which would further lead to the People Public Private Partnership (PPPP) model

The Sanitation Capacity Building Platform (SCBP), a program for FSSM anchored by National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), developed a national capacity building framework for FSSM, through original learning content and training modules as well as a broader capacity building mandate (developing technology guidance, research, and policy advocacy). This has resulted in an effective capacity building outreach at national and international level.

Strengthening urban local governments through capacity building and better financial management is identified as a key strategy for urban development in the 11th Plan. The plan identifies lack of skilled human power as one of the key concerns and recommends setting up of an apex agency to coordinate the activities of national and state level training institutions. Administrative Reforms Commission has also proposed urban governance capacity building programme to address capacity gaps in urban local bodies. Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has undertaken several initiatives under JNNURM and other schemes to augment the capacity of urban local bodies to implement projects and reforms.


The 11th five-year plan identified strengthening ULBs through capacity building and effective financial management is considered a major approach for urban development. The plan listed a shortage of trained labour as one of its main concerns and suggested creating an apex organization to coordinate the efforts of training institutions at the national and state levels. Some of the existing institutional arrangements for capacity building are discussed in the below table.

  • Set up by the MoUD, Govt. of India at Mumbai, Lucknow and Hyderabad
  • Focuses on- Urban policy research, technical advisory services and building capacity of senior/ mid level officials, and elected ULB officials
  • Help in improving skills and capability by enhancing knowledge and work skill required for good urban governance

Premier institute for research, training and information dissemination in urban development and management

  • Mainly focuses on promoting research and training in municipal administration
  • Covers various states through regional offices as well as permanent centres
  • Focuses on research studies and conducts specialized courses, seminars, conferences and provides an open forum for officials and non-officials in municipal administration

  • These institutes are set up at the state level to disseminate knowledge on different aspects of good governance
  • They impart training in effective manpower and financial management to employees

(Figure-2: Existing Institutional Arrangements for Capacity Building. Source: Ministry of Urban Development)

However, there are specific gaps in capacity building of the ULBs such as lack of skill sets of existing personal, lack of appropriate institutional framework, and capacity gaps at apex level. These capacity gaps vary across states and cities that require attention to streamline the sanitation process and for effective implementation of sanitation policies. The capacity gaps are broadly categorised as mentioned in the below table

  • Officials engaged in urban affairs management and municipal services are not adequately trained
  • Trainings areas include, socio-economic planning, urban planning, citizen participation, urban reforms, e-Governance, municipal service delivery like sewerage, and sanitation

  • Many ULB officials have never received trainings in their career
  • No programmes for facilitating cross learning and exposure to best practices
  • Some of the concerns are addressed through JNNURM

  • Urban management is not prioritized in academic and professional institutions
  • Smaller ULBs are unable to even articulate their demand for training
  • To overcome such challenges, the institutions are required to define agenda, advise the national and state governments, and develop standards

  • Organisations such as Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO), Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) regularly provide handholding support on technical matters
  • Ministry, at internal level proposes to strengthen and consolidate various capacity building activities

(Figure-3: Specific capacity gaps at local urban bodies level. Source: Ministry of Urban Development)

Existing funding under government Schemes for Capacity Building

Funding Pattern: Guiding principles

  • A detailed state sanitation plan including components of capacity building is usually required for releasing First instalment for National scheme implementation.
  • For capacity building and administrative expenditure, a defined proportion of budget is marked separately.
  • Subsequent instalments shall be released based on utilization certificates of previous grants, physical and financial progress, and other indicators as approved and desired by the National Advisory & Review Committee (NARC).

Technical Support at National, State and City Levels

  • A National Mission Management Unit (NMMU) has been established at the Centre. Additionally, support is provided to States and Cities for setting-up of State Mission Management Unit (SMMU) and City Mission Management Unit (CMMU) with good quality livelihood and programme management professionals and developing efficient institutional systems like HR, MIS, financial management, procurement, and social management
  • The funds required for NMMU will be allocated to the Mission Directorate at Central level and those for SMMUs and CMMUs will be released to State missions
  • The funding support for SMMU and CMMU is generally available only for five years. During this period, states are expected to create and establish their municipal cadres for sustained implementation of DAY-NULM and other urban sanitation programmes.

In Tamil Nadu, loans with subsidies are offered by several government programs to help the underprivileged build toilets. NGOs like Gramalaya in Trichy lend money to women SHG members to build toilets, septic tanks, water connections, water storage structures, etc. in rural and urban areas. While simultaneously advancing the welfare and empowerment of women by placing them in leadership roles, women and male youth groups are employed to help achieve goals on toilet building, use, and maintenance.

Strengthening sanitation practices and services at national and state levels and improving program execution can contribute to better sanitation outcomes. The frameworks for sanitation capacity building usually includes identification of focus areas for training and stakeholders to be trained, choice of Swachhata Knowledge Partners (SKPs) for implementation of training, modes of training delivery- classroom based, exposure field visits, etc., frequency of trainings to be undertaken, budgetary aspects, methodology for post training evaluation and certification, and performance assessment of SKPs.

The Capacity building Effectiveness Ladder (CDEL) Framework lays out five critical steps to accomplish impactful capacity building for functionaries involved in the urban sanitation lifecycle.

Following are critical in content development

  • Relevance, quality, and uptake of content
  • Quality check on the efforts and longevity
  • Update original content that is tested and delivered

  • Important to develop and impart learning content
  • Under SCBP, partnerships were established for content and Capacity building along with their implementation at national & state levels

  • Must have clarity on learning outputs and process
  • Strategy includes compiling content, stakeholders trainings, peer exchange and events

  • Visualize the desired change from technology, financing, and management perspective
  • Translate to training modules content and learning outcomes for trainees

Organizations with well-endowed budgets must contribute towards Capacity building (CD) discourse or sectorial understanding at national and global levels

(Figure-4: CDEL Framework. Source: National Institute of Urban Affairs-2020)

The CDEL framework is an initiative committed to re-prioritising learning as the core of capacity building work. It describes some critical stages/steps that define effectiveness of a learning initiative and provides a caution against seeing capacity building as a formalistic process and set of activities. The Framework highlights concrete steps that define the inputs, and outcomes of a capacity building intervention that has learning as its focus.

  • With decentralized governance at the municipal, zonal, and ward levels, sanitation management may be carried out successfully
  • Senior officers at Zone/Division can be actively involved to set out strategies for long-term objectives and monitor the implementation process

  • Link the external capacity building programs with some existing programs related to sanitation
  • Translate capacity building inputs into programs and infrastructure outputs by enabling policy and utilizing program funds

  • It is critical to understand the areas where sanitation programs are underperforming along with training various stakeholders and implementing sanitation programs
  • Behaviour change capacity building programs can be crucial to understand self-perception barriers at individual and societal levels, thereby improving the sanitation outcomes

  • Develop future leaders who can think independently, plan and implement best solutions for capacity building
  • Overall aim is to professionalize various stakeholders such as municipal officials, finance and accounts managers, environmental planners, etc., to enable them in delivery of sanitation services

(Figure-5: The critical aspects in developing capacity building program. Source: National Institute of Urban Affairs-2020)

A capacity building program in urban areas tends to be a large-scale project, which necessitates thorough planning before developing and deploying the training programs via a multitude of platforms. The different stakeholders involved in sanitation capacity building planning include ULB Officials (EO, engineer, functionaries), elected representatives – (Mayors and Councillors), decision makers at ULB level (commissioner, smart city CEO, senior engineers), mid-level state officials (planner, engineer, decision makers, regulators), senior state officials – decision makers), faculties from training institutes, consultants/ professionals working with TSU/PMU/sector partners, and academia (faculty and students)

At ground level, masons, de-sludging professionals, and ULB officials are important stakeholders who must possess the most recent Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) knowledge. It is crucial to enhance institutional, administrative, financial, and human resource capacities, to execute FSM successfully and achieve safe sanitation. Several orientation programs, international and domestic exposure visits can be organized for ULBs, training programs and sensitizing masons by including their role in various aspects of building safe containment structures. Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP) has conducted  Training Need Assessment that aimed to enhance sanitation across the value chain, to determine the stakeholders' present capabilities, gaps, and challenges with FSM. 

Employing “urban-rural convergence” approach eliminates the need for new infrastructure development, eliminates the urban-rural gap, and creates potential for institutional convergence. This innovative strategy intends to use the already-existing desludging and FSM treatment facilities in urban areas to provide FSM care in nearby rural communities. Additionally, by offering FSM services in rural regions, this strategy has a good influence on reducing local pollution and the health hazards linked with improper fecal treatment. The concept utilizes a five-step methodology that comprised situational analysis driven by data, model development, stakeholder consultation, formalization of the urban-rural partnership through law, and capacity building.

A District-level FSM plan can be created to help state and district governments, professionals, and developmental partners using, recommendations from the SBM-G Phase II template based on plug-in and greenfield strategies.

Rural gram panchayats are tagged with nearest FSTP (usually within 10-20 kms radius from urban areas) by estimating the rural fecal sludge loading, and analysing the spare capacity of urban FSTP

These are stand-alone FSM infrastructure and services in rural gram panchayats where GP clusters are identified and set up their own FSMs

(Figure 6: Fecal sludge management methods for urban-rural convergence. Source: Ministry of Jal Shakti, GoI)

Strategy for Capacity Building

The capacity building of the ULBs must be carried out in a phased manner with inclusion of short term and long-term strategies with a vision and framework at National, State and City levels.

Short-term strategy creation can include:

  • Consolidating information on training materials already available, identifying individual trainers and institutions, and conducting training programmes for ULBs
  • Developing training material through the Mission Directorate under JNNURM and capacity building initiatives for other cities
  • Strengthening the institutional arrangements including involvement of private institutions, academic and professional institutions to introduce courses for urban managers, creating a professional municipal cadre etc

The key elements of the strategy would further include the following:

  • Optimal utilisation of existing capacity building initiatives
  • Encouraging private sector participation in providing quality human resources
  • Creation of an umbrella framework for international agencies, other national and state level entities to expand training opportunities
  • Emphasising on smaller urban areas to create capacity building initiatives based on their needs
  • Capacity building initiatives are demand driven to full extent
  • Assessing training and capacity building needs at the State and City levels
  • Integration of hands-on learning and exposure visits into programmes and activities

Long-term capacity needs include:

  • Encouraging academic and professional institutions to introduce courses aimed at improving urban sanitation
  • Induction training at all levels of key policy makers and administrators on urban sanitation
  • Existing institutes that follow course materials suitable for the capacity building of ULB staff are identified
  • Short duration refresher training programs can be planned given after a gap of 5 years

Enhancement of Capacities of Urban Practitioners at the ULBs, States/ UTs and Centre

Training Modules Development

Training modules developed based on the approved operational guidelines and canbe converted to e -learning modules along with translation to regional languages for uniformity across training implementation programs

Training/ Workshops at States/ UTs and ULBs levels

Workshops can be held at National, Regional, State/UT, and City levels with different stakeholders such as Ministers-in-charge of states, senior policy makers, state officials, State/ UT secretaries, nodal officers, elected members, commissioners

Handholding Support to States and Cities

Ministry may send officials and non-officials to support States/ UTs and Cities during,

  • Preparation of Plan of Action and Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for monitoring
  • Progress review programmes in different stages of implementation

Training of Trainers (ToT) Programme

Ministry/ULB can organize a ToT workshop to develop a common understanding on all the modules prepared

Exposure Visits

Done through a judicious mix of classroom learning and field visits

Learning from other Institutes

Experts take sessions on sanitation topics and provide guidance in developing training modules


Documentation is carried out by state or central ministries identified agencies and it is circulated to other states for learning

Capacity Building Plan/ Calendar

  • Includes trainings/ workshops, translation of modules, documentation and research that can be submitted to the authorities at the start of Financial Year (April) with clear description of responsible agencies
  • After approval, funds and central assistance can be released to the coordinating agency
  • Operational modifications can be carried out with prior approvals

Augmentation of Human Resources through Establishment of State and City level Cells

  • Stat Level Nodal Agency (SLNA) and ULBs identified can constitute state and city level technical cells respectively with experts from the fields of MIS, GIS, Town Planning, Social Development, Project/ Engineering, Capacity Building/ Training and/ or other relevant fields such as., PPP, Procurement, Architecture, and structural engineering as deemed necessary by the States/ UTs and Cities
  • These cells would assist the State/UT and ULBs in effective implementation and monitoring of the scheme on ground

(Table-1: Key components included in the implementation process of capacity building strategies. Source: Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY): Guidelines for Capacity Building (2013-2022))

In most situations, a locally based NGO, or a local champion such as district collector, municipal commissioner, or SHGs etc. have been the initial catalyst for sanitation initiatives. It has been noted that the involvement of a local champion either individual or organization has frequently been essential in bringing together all relevant stakeholders and in providing the motivation and perseverance needed to carry out the pilot or introduce the first successful model. Once the initiative is stabilized, the local champions would move to the neighboring towns. In their absence, a community organizer takes the responsibility to sustain the sanitation initiatives. Data collection and record updating of such best practices must continue simultaneously and be integrated into the implementation management system used by the different stakeholders.

Municipal Commissioner of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), along with the support of Chief Secretary of the State has displayed a strong leadership and been able to champion the sanitation agenda. In addition to making it a top priority for the city, programs' implementation was personally pursued and formed successful alliances with different stakeholders. A strategy that strikes a balance between the requirement to swiftly achieve impact at scale and the longer process necessary to assure quality and sustainability has been developed.

Training methods for capacity building initiatives include classroom and self-directed learnings, exchange visits, on-the-job training, and through appropriate use of technology. The training management and delivery system of urban sanitation capacity building projects may consider the following modes of training delivery

Training Type


Technology based training

Pocketbooks or E-Guides (Without internet access)

  • Pocketbook or pamphlet, e-books, and pdf
  • Options like suggestion boxes, and advisories

On-line (Access to internet)

  • Facebook, twitter, etc.
  • Online queries, spot debates and conferences

You Tube Instructional Format

  • Either online or offline
  • Instructional videos

Cloud Information Library

  • Slide-deck or pdf via internet or cloud storage
  • Easy access to information

Field Notes Exchange

  • Documentation of on field experiences and project details
  • Uploaded in storage cloud such as Dropbox

Service Providers


Specialized trainers/Subject matter experts

(Table-2: Types of capacity building trainings. Source: MYA: Resilient Community Development Project 2019)

The standards and selection of training service providers are two critical entities in delivering sanitation training process. The training unit (TU) offers direction in establishing the standards for high-quality training and the requirements for training providers to be eligible to participate in the program as learning partners. The table below details both the aspects in a comprehensive way.

Aligning training content, objectives, and methodology with national policy

  • Opportunities for participation, teamwork, innovation, consensus building and reflection
  • Simple, informative, and user-friendly learning materials
  • Available in e-format and portable guidebooks
  • Technical concepts to be popularized for community level utility
  • Include assessment system to evaluate pre and post learnings
  • Technology must be tested in actual training and proven effective as indicated on records

Credible track-record in delivering trainings

  • National and/or regional providers based on the coverage
  • Faculty with experience in interactive learning technologies
  • Effective total cost of trainings

(Figure-7: Parameters in training standards and for selection criteria of training service. Source: MYA: Resilient Community Development Project 2019)


It is necessary to understand the correct implementation of sanitation activities. It can be done as 2 stages: Pre-training assessment and post-training assessment

  • Pre-training assessment: A pre-training assessment is undertaken to understand the existing levels of skills and knowledge among the targeted trainees at the beginning of the training, to and set a benchmark.
  • Post-training assessment: post-training assessment is conducted to ascertain that trainee has understood the SOP and learnt practical applicability of training program, through both verbal and practical assessments.


  • To assist with the assessment process, a group of certified potential master trainers (MTs) is developed from the trainers who,
    • Previously delivered training on sanitation-related subjects
    • Met minimum eligibility criteria (relevant soft skills, previous experience of giving practical training etc.)
  • A similar pre-training assessment can be conducted for the potential MTs, and practical training provided to improve their training capabilities. A post-training assessment is also conducted consisting of theoretical, practical, and verbal assessments.
  • Recognition as certified sanitation professionals through government interventions shall also provide sanitation workers with dignified identity in the society, ensure safety at work, and reduce the discriminatory situations.

Certification and rewards/compensation encourages sanitation professionals to get more involved in the capacity building process. Certificates received by participants gave them a higher sense of recognition among ULBs along with promotions to higher-skilled sanitation jobs as per training programs piloted in Odisha. The certification process gives ULBs a pool of qualified and certified sanitation workers. The certification of sanitation workers and their upskilling in sanitation services will improve their ability to seek better employment opportunities.

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