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…)

Viewing Behavior Change Through Another Lens

As is well known and well covered in the media, there is a sanitation crisis in India, with over half the population (roughly 600 million people) forced to open-defecate every day due to a lack of adequate facilities, infrastructure, and even a basic understanding of the importance of healthy sanitation habits. This makes India the world’s biggest culprit in terms of open-defecation, with more than double the amount of the next 11 countries combined.

Additionally, the country loses over US$50 billion dollars per year (roughly 6% of GDP) due to sanitation-related illnesses, one child under the age of 5 dies every 20-seconds from diarrhea stemming from water-borne illnesses, safety of women and girls remains one of the primary concerns in settings where they are forced into the (more…)

The Gradual Manifestation of a Distant Vision

My colleague Kevin has posted recent updates on the current status of nominating a construction agency for building the toilet facilities in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. As mentioned, we are waiting on final approvals from the government and are hopeful that we will soon have a contractor confirmed, following which we can start pre-construction activities at the sites. As such, we are hopeful that we will soon break ground and see the beginning of construction.

This has come after several months of tendering activity. The design team that has worked on the various sorts of toilet facilities, have long completed all the requisite work to begin construction. (more…)

An Engineer’s Retrospective

Approaching the one-year mark of my involvement with Project Sammaan, I’ve spent a good deal of time lately reflecting on not only this initiative but the sanitation situation in India as a whole as well.

Being a part of this project is in and of itself something I take a lot of pride from. As it’s my first professional venture and one that involves working on a just cause (i.e., to address the serious and severe shortfall of sanitation facilities for urban communities, which, till date, is most neglected in India), my one true hope is that I can do my bit and contribute in a positive manner. It’s been a wonderful experience in meeting amazing people from different domains (more…)

Project Sammaan at the Papanek Symposium

In continuation to Ayush’s post about the project dissemination activities, I am sharing my recent experience at the Papanek Symposium in Vienna. The symposium was organised by the Victor J. Papanek Foundation, University of Applied Arts Vienna, and focused on the social and political imperative of design in emerging economies.

Papanek’s landmark book published in 1971, “Design for the Real World”, has been translated into more than 20 languages and is one of the most widely read books on design in the world. Papanek has been a very influential thinker in sustainable design and his approach is even more relevant today.


Sammaan’s Architectural Uniqueness

In an earlier post, Khyati from Anagram Architects talked about some of the architectural design principles that will be adopted across the toilets in Bhubaneswar & Cuttack.

Here are some additional features across the 92 community toilets that we will build across Bhubaneswar & Cuttack, that will be unique and will facilitate a better user experience:


Sammaan’s Architectural Design Principles

Building off of site visits and research work shared by our partners, we observed that, in the current scenario, the toilets were considered as a zone of filth. As such they were misused, making it unsafe, particularly for women and children. There was a major need to upgrade the experience of visiting a Public/ Community toilet.

Therefore, our designs were formulated on the basis of following principles:


Designing an Appropriate Sewage System for Odisha

Odisha’s specific environmental considerations, as well as other factors, such as increasing population and large proportion of people living in slums without regular access to water and sanitation, necessitates the design of a sanitation solution that is customised to these constraints.

For Project Sammaan, particularly, it is vital that the sanitation infrastructure designed and deployed as part of the pilot project exemplifies the principles and design ideologies that best meet the needs of the people and the geography of the cities.


Architecture Update

Anagram Architects comprises the architectural design team of Project Samman and, as such, is responsible for providing detailed architectural designs for both Public and Community toilets in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Our role involves understanding the existing sanitation scenario in the two cities and providing innovative design solutions to reduce the prevalent practice of open-defecation.

For this, initial site visits were made to understand the user preferences and reasons behind the failure of existing toilet designs. This was followed by a series of workshops, which helped in evolving a preliminary design framework.



There have been a few posts in the past that have made reference to DEWATS systems in regards to the sewerage challenges the Project Sammaan team has faced. While some of these posts have shed a little light into what DEWATS is, we thought a more detailed presentation was in order.

A DEWATS system has 3 primary components: