WASH programme in tea plantations

of Assam

WASH intervention

WASH appears as the most important need in the tea industry by affecting both the health and income of the tea communities. Keeping this in mind, SEWA is focusing its attention on the social aspects of intervention by improving delivery mechanisms and assisting communities through the adoption of WaSH practices with an eye towards advancing empowerment levels.

Their poor sanitary conditions not only impact the physical health of the community but also have direct consequences on people’s socio-­ psychological well-being, particularly for women, limiting their opportunities to lead the life they have reason to value.

Hand tube wells and garden supply water points are the main sources of drinking water on tea estates, but poorly managed tube wells and insufficient water points against households limit workers’ access to water.

The project is providing sanitary toilets (400 numbers) to the workers’ houses as part of the WaSH activity, as well as access to potable water through the installation of hand tube wells (70 numbers) or community water points in the workers’ residential lines. The hardware dimension of the project is mainly based on the construction of sanitary water seal toilets and the installation or repair of the existing water point.

The SEWA WaSH project endeavours to construct sanitary toilets and water points in four targeted tea gardens in Assam with the support of R. Twining and Company Limited. Beyond the physical construction of the toilets, the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) programme stresses effective participation of the community for WaSH sustainability. The programme inspires people to adopt a new behaviour by eliminating open defecation and encouraging the use and maintenance of toilets once they are constructed. To this end, the programme is strongly focused on raising awareness to promote both the use of constructed toilets and the dissemination of information on the benefits of sanitary toilets.

The main objective of the programme is to provide tea workers access to a proper sanitation facility and improve access to potable water in the tea estates of Assam, India.


To tackle the sanitation issues in tea estates, SEWA in partnership with TWININGS proposes to implement the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) intervention in the tea gardens of Assam to improve the sanitation and hygiene conditions of tea workers. The project involves constructing low-cost individual sanitary toilets in workers’ quarters to eliminate open defecation and establishing need-based hand tube wells as water points in Assam’s intervening tea gardens to improve tea workers’ access to safe water and reduce their time spent collecting water. The project intends to support long term positive change to achieve WaSH sustainability and eliminate open defecation in tea plantations in Assam.

Additionally, the project will adopt community approaches to achieve WaSH by focusing heavily on triggering the entire community of the intervening tea estates with the aim of achieving collective behavioural change. The emphasis is placed on integrating the Mothers Club, the Adolescent Girls’ club, and other workers’ committees towards WaSH awareness generation, triggering mindsets leading to community behaviour change, with the greater goal of achieving sustainable development goals in WASH.

In the intervening tea estates, SEWA promotes the model high water table.

This model is more suitable for areas where people use water for ablution. The system is made up of two chambers that are connected in the middle. It may be a brick-cement or Ferro-cement structure. The bottom of both the chambers is sealed with P.C.C. (plane cement concrete). During the use of the toilets, human waste comes into the first chamber, and after settlement, it flows to the second chamber. From this second chamber, it flows through the covered drain to its outlet, or soak pit. The toilet seat with pan and trap remains the same in traditional Indian toilets.