In Odisha in India, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Slum Dwellers Associations (SDAs) are emerging as part of the fourth tier of governance structure that allows urban poor to actively participate in civic work. Against this background, participatory research was undertaken in Dhenkanal in Odisha to understand the challenges most marginalised groups face in accessing WASH services in poor urban settlements. The study aimed to:
- Explore the role of the fourth tier of governance in ensuring inclusive, equitable and sustainable access to WASH services to the urban poor, especially to the marginalised groups in unserved and underserved urban poor settlements during the pandemic;
- Identify the underlying principles and factors for deepening the engagement of community-based organisations (CBOs), in the framework of the fourth tier of governance, such that urban poor-led community based groups can ensure inclusive and sustainable WASH services in a poor urban settlement.
The study explores various opportunities, such as enabling policy and programmatic focus and challenges, such as weak capacities and deep-rooted exclusionary processes CBOs face to support marginalised groups accessing WASH services. Finally, the study analyses the concept of fourth tier governance in the context of SHGs and SDAs in Odisha.
The study recommends defining the framework for the fourth tier of governance with clear roles and responsibilities of different CBOs, strengthening CBOs to become anchors for disseminating information on programmes and schemes to the poor and marginalised who often get excluded from programmes because of lack of knowledge. It underpins the need for institution-building and improving the financial health of these institutions.