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Community-owned and managed Water-Sanitation as catalyst for sustainable development

Project ongoing since: 1995 • Gram Vikas


In the MANTRA approach, institutional and infrastructure systems are established in the participating villages


Gram Vikas realized that water and sanitation might be a critical entry point through which an entire community could come together to have their first experiential learning of inclusion. It was important to have a win-win solution for all the stakeholders in the village. It had to demonstrate how a socially inclusive, gender equitable, people-friendly and financially viable model of sustainable and holistic development can be initiated, where everybody benefits.

Those who had been previously excluded from most development activities, should become a part of the progress that the entire community is making. Those who have been perpetuating such exclusion should also benefit, since it is in their interest that every single individual in the village has access to a means of safe disposal of human waste.

The notion that rural communities need only low-cost (almost always taken to mean low- quality) solutions to their problems had become a part of the psyche of policy makers. There was abject neglect of the rural people’s needs and their aspirations. Plans rolled out from the top and histories of short-term low-quality fixes to problems in rural areas have contributed to the low self-esteem and dignity among the rural poor.

Infrastructure, Institutions and Finances:

In the MANTRA approach, institutional and infrastructure systems are established in the
participating villages. The systems package consists of the following components:
• Twin-pit pour flush toilets and bathing rooms (TBR) for every household in the village
• Piped water supply system (PWSS) with a source (bore well/sanitary well/spring) pumped diverted using electric/solar power or gravity flow into an overhead water reservoir/sump and distributed through two or three taps in every household
• The Village Executive Committee/Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSC) for the ownership and management of the Water and Sanitation systems
• The Village Corpus Fund, set up with initial contribution of Rs.1000 on average per household, maintained in a bank fixed deposit, whose interest income is to be used by the VWSC to provide financial assistance to new households coming up in the village to build TBR
• A maintenance fund managed by the VWSC to pay for regular upkeep and repairs of the PWSS

Integrating and Deepening Rural Water Sanitation & Hygiene Outcomes:
The second part of the MANTRA intervention takes place in villages where the infrastructure and institutional mechanisms have been completed. Gram Vikas provides technical and implementation support to the Village Water and Sanitation Committees to deepen their activities in the following areas:
• Safe Disposal of Excreta
• Personal Hygiene
• Kitchen Sanitation
• Water Management

Gram Vikas is now working towards interventions in the area of solid and liquid waste resource management in villages where the village community is interested.

Countries of activity

Location of main activity


An institutional mechanism had to be developed around this programme, which would be the first experience for a village community in managing its own village institution and financial resources.
The marginalized sections of the community had to be given opportunities to sit together with the more powerful sections and negotiate issues regarding the village on equitable terms. This would help build the capacities of the people and instill in them high level of confidence. Villagers would learn how to deal with conflicts and act as pressure groups against vested interests within their village and outside. They learn to question and hold accountable the Village Committee elected by them. They would learn the ropes of maintaining public accounts, organizing general body meetings and elections.

Further information

Over the past two decades, Gram Vikas has been able to gradually expand the coverage of the
MANTRA approach across villages in Odisha. Since 2016, it is also working with rural communities
in Jharkhand. Demonstration projects were also taken up, in partnership with local organizations,
in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Household and Community contribution, Government Grants to villages, Grants facilitated by Gram Vikas from donors/CSR

Contact information

Liby Johnson
Login to see the e-mail-adress of the contact person.

Filter tags

Behaviour change Capacity development East Asia & Pacific Enabling environment and institutional strengthening Local NGO Operation, maintenance and sustainable services Other funding source or unspecified Political processes and institutional aspects Rural Rural areas Specific to one or several countries Toilets or urinals (user interface)

Attached files

Gram Vikas - An Introduction June 2018

Format: pdf file
Size: 7.07 MB

Gram Vikas - Community-managed WASH model (June 2018)

Format: pdf file
Size: 0.12 MB

Gram Vikas - Community-owned Water Supply Systems (June 2018)

Format: pdf file
Size: 0.08 MB

Gram Vikas

Gram Vikas, which literally translates to "Village Development", has been working for the well-being of tribal and marginalized communities in inaccessible rural areas for over a period of 35 years. Gram Vikas strives to promote sustainable, socially inclusive and gender equitable practices amongst these communities, thus enabling them to take control over their lives and reach a heightened sense of empowerment. Gram Vikas operates through its flagship model, titled "Movement and Action Network for Transformation of Rural Areas (MANTRA)", which has been in operation since 2004. The major tenets of this model include 100% inclusion of the target communities, creation of self-managed community institutions, focus on ensuring social and gender equity, cost sharing, and sustainability of the interventions implemented. This model uses water and sanitation as an entry point and moves on to other need based intervention on Health, Social Housing, Natural Resource Management and Food Security, and Renewable Energy.

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Elisabeth von Muench (Elisabeth)

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