Hardware Team Completes Its Work

Project Sammaan has reached a crossroads of sorts now that all of the requisite approvals for construction are in place and NBCC has been brought on board as the contractor for all facilities in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack; it is time for the hardware team, led by Quicksand, to scale back their involvement and allow the software team, led by J-PAL, to complete the remaining work necessary prior to opening the facilities in the host communities.

Any regular reader of this blog will know that it has been a long, arduous process getting to this point. Project Sammaan has been an exercise in patience and perseverance, and an undertaking that has taught us a great many things over the (more…)

Construction Timelines & Cause for Concern

News that National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) has been identified as the contractor for all of the Project Sammaan facilities in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack brought with it both an incredible sense of relief and a torrent of new work to accomplish all of the project’s required pre-construction activities prior to breaking ground on the first facilities.

I have written briefly in the past about these pre-construction efforts, but now that we have a contractor on-board we have shifted into the day-to-day planning that will be required to effectively, efficiently, and successfully pull off the construction of the 79 separate facilities in the initial phase of Project Sammaan. With all of the different organizations involved, and each with their own sets of needs and related challenges, the logistics of coordinating all individual efforts such that the collective goal of getting the facilities online as quickly as possible is (more…)

Put the Poo in the New Loos

Project Samman, over the past 3 years, has been putting in immeasurable effort towards a single, immense goal: building great new community toilets. At some point in the not-too-distant future, 57 brand new, gleaming toilet blocks will come into existence, and it will be a major accomplishment for the project.

But then what?

What happens next? Just because the new toilets exist, will people use them?

This is not as easy of a question to consider as it might seem at first glance. We might think, “Why (more…)

A Need for Clarity & Access

The possibility of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) being awarded the contracts for constructing the Sammaan facilities on a nomination basis was greeted with great excitement, support, and an overwhelming sense of relief; after a year-and-a-half of false starts and setbacks, it was beginning to look like the tendering process was finally over. That positive outlook has been tempered quite a bit over the past two months as the decision on a PSU’s nomination remains pending, leaving the team in an extended state of limbo and uncertain as to what steps can be taken to expedite the review.

Much of this uncertainty lies in the lack of clarity regarding what is entailed in the review process currently under way with various representatives at the H&UD, Finance, and Public Health Departments. We simply don’t know what the protocols are, who is responsible for each step, and what the timelines associated with each are. Ultimately, the team finds itself in a position of having to be reactive, to wait for requests from the various (more…)

Lessons from Sammaan

I spent the past 20 months with Sammaan both as a full-time project manager and a part-time consultant, and have just disengaged from the initiative.

This time has helped me to understand the challenges in implementing large-scale innovations in government organisations while getting the firsthand experience of looking at the state of sanitation facilities in Indian slums.


Vox Populi Video

In the spring of 2013, members of the Project Sammaan team from CFAR and Quicksand spent the day visiting one of the bastis (i.e., slums) in Bhubaneswar. The purpose of this visit, as I wrote about in a previous post, was to provide a platform for community members to discuss any aspects of their lives that they wished to, irrespective of its relevance to Sammaan.

We intentionally kept the questions vague and open-ended to encourage interviewees to share as much as possible. Queries such as, “What is it like living here?” and “What do you like and dislike about your community?” led to some great insights.


Census Completion!

The main field milestone in August has been the completion of the census data collection. As I write this update, the team is gearing up for what will be their last census field session. We follow a rule of a site-wide first-pass followed by two revisits for each unfinished household. Today the field team is preparing for a second revisit at the last remaining site.

With the completion of this last batch of 10 sites in Bhubaneswar, what has been nearly a 11-month long exercise draws to a close. In this time, we have, in total, surveyed 32 sites in Cuttack, and about a 100 sites in Bhubaneswar, covering over 20,000 households in Bhubaneswar and 7,000 households in Cuttack. The overall completion rates in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack stand at around 87% and 90%, respectively.


Interface Management Update

June was important in terms of liasoning and capacity building for Project Sammaan. Some of the most important and crucial decision-making meetings with Principal Secretary, H&UD Dept and Commissioners of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Cuttack Municipal Corporation were arranged during the month.


To-Date Achievements

Project Sammaan has been going full-steam ahead for well over a year now. Several posts have been written over the last few months detailing the many challenges that have been faced thus far, so we thought it pertinent to review the achievements that the team is most proud of.

1. Facility design features were finalized.

After months of internal deliberations and community engagement exercises, the design features of the facilities were agreed upon, thereby allowing the individual facility designs to proceed. This is the first, most critical, component of the design process and one that seeks to shift the Potty Project findings from the conceptual phase and into practice.


Project Communications Update

May was yet another very busy month for the communications team, with blog activity crescendoing, the Vox Populi video completed, work continuing on the Technical & Design Guidelines document, and, most importantly, Project Sammaan being added to SuSanA, the online sustainable sanitation alliance forum.

As the overall project activities continue increasing, the blog has seen an influx in participation from all partners. Abstract posts about the state of sanitation in India joined those on public relations, branding, project management, and community census activities, making the month of May one of the most diverse in terms of features. These posts present a good snapshot of the wide range of touch-points for Project Sammaan and reinforce its uniqueness in the sanitation sector.