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Sanitation and disasters: a case study of community and institutional response to Cyclone Phailin, Odisha 2013

There is a new shift in political interest in sanitation in India with the newly launched Swacha Bharat Abhiyan on 2 October 2014. Given this renewed interest, this paper investigates the specific context of a post-disaster situation and approaches to sanitation using the case study of Odisha, India. Progress in sanitation when juxtaposed with a disaster relief and recovery situation depends upon the socio-economic conditions, community practices in sanitation and hygiene, and political response to sanitation and disasters. This study uses empirical evidence gathered in the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin in 2013. The evidence was collected through focus group discussions with communities, interviews with local non-governmental agencies, and meetings with agencies. The emerging data helps in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of sanitation in the post-disaster context in Odisha, and links the evidence to pre-existing chronic issues including open defecation practice and other socio-economic disparities.

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