NBCC Awarded Contracts for Sammaan Facilities

The National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) has been awarded the contract to construct all 26 Community Toilets and 21 of the 27 Public Toilets in Bhubaneswar as part of Project Sammaan. (The contract for the six remaining Public Toilets is still pending despite a qualified bidder, the Vinayak Agency, being identified through an open tender nearly six months ago). The motion to award NBCC the contracts for Cuttack’s 31 Community Toilets is expected to be passed this week, and the formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed soon thereafter.

NBCC is a massive Public Sector Unit headquartered in Delhi that takes on projects across India, as well as in overseas locations such as Iraq, Libya, Nepal, Yemen, and Turkey. The company’s services is broadly in three segments: Project Management Consultancy, Real Estate (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…)

Pre-Construction Activities

There are a series of interrelated activities that must occur prior to the commencement of construction on the Sammaan facilities in order to ensure the project is as effective as possible. The challenge is that these activities cannot begin until after the contractors have been selected and a clearly defined construction timeline created as they need to be completed as close to the commencement of building the facilities as can be afforded.

Naturally, the extensive delays in the tendering process and, ultimately, in finding suitable contractors for facility construction has put the timelines for the pre-construction activities in a (more…)

Revisiting Bhubaneswar’s Sites

The drastically reduced budget for the Community Toilets in Bhubaneswar will only allow us to build only 26 of the originally planned 60 facilities. This meant that the team had to decide which communities would receive a facility and which would be forced to keep their fingers-crossed in hopes that sometime in the future their needs will be met. Doing so was no small task, and one that required the participation of virtually all those working on the initiative. Further complicating matters was the two-week deadline mandated by the government to complete the work.

The first step in this process was visiting all proposed sites to identify any encroachment issues. As the land was identified and allocated to the project nearly 2 years ago, there was serious concern that many of the sites would no longer be open and available for construction. In fact, (more…)

Workstream Activities: Week of 11/18/13

Last week we were able to get the Public Toilet tender released in Bhubaneswar which allowed us to shift the focus to the Community Toilets in both pilot cities. The municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack require an incredible amount of documentation to push the tender process forward: over 2,500 pages of materials were submitted to the CMC and nearly double that amount will be submitted to the BMC this week. (We’ve assembled individual booklets for each of the 92 Community Toilets across both cities; Arkitechno has taken the lead in this with a lot of support coming from Anagram Architects).
The CMC engineering department is literally signing off on every single page of these booklets before sending them to the Chief Engineer based here in Bhubaneswar. Once the Chief Engineer reviews and approves these, we will get the technical sanction and, according to the Cuttack City Engineer, the tender will immediately be released.

Workstream Activities: Week of 11/11/13

When we first launched this blog, we provided weekly recaps of project-related activities in a series of posts called “Week That Was”. The thinking behind this type of reportage was two-fold: to provide a running, real-time catalogue of events as they happen and to be as transparent as possible in sharing our work as it unfolds.

We shifted away from this type of writing in the interest of sharing more thoughtful, reflective pieces about learnings from the project and individual partner experiences with it. However, given the call for greater communication from all of the partners, we’re reinstating these updates. The hope is that it will augment the experience for visitor’s to this site such that all audiences, from casual observers to invested project stakeholders, will glean deeper and richer knowledge about the Sammaan initiative.


Validating Sammaan

If we are to identify effective, replicable solutions that address the design, management and operational challenges of communal sanitation facilities, it is imperative that we rigorously test out the impact of the various interventions and understand the causal mechanisms along the way. Thus, research is a crucial aspect of Project Sammaan, where a mix of software and hardware interventions will be evaluated using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) methodology.

There are two hardware interventions that will be studied: the provision of a basic package of design, infrastructure, and operational improvements, as well as additional infrastructure above the basic package, such as spaces for bathing and washing clothes. We will study if this provision of complementary services is cost-effective and whether this drives adoption. In terms of software at the facility-level, we will study the appropriate management system to ensure sustained maintenance. Facilities will be assigned to either community management or private contractor management, to study the effect of toilet management systems on usage rates.


Notes from the Field

Field activities in the month of July were focused towards completing the census data collection in the remaining 10 community toilet locations in Bhubaneswar. J-PAL has finished first round of data collection is 5 sites with a completion rate of more than 80%, and will revisit these sites to improve the completion rate and start data collection in the remaining sites.

The Principal Investigator on the Urban Sanitation Project, Prof. Mushfiq Mobarak, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Management, visited the project in July. He presented the Software and Research aspects of the Urban Sanitation project to the Additional Chief Secretary, Mr Srinivas. The presentation led to a constructive dialogue on the practical challenges to keep in mind while implementing the research methodology.


Quick Progress Report from J-PAL

During the month of June, J-PAL’s field work in Bhubaneswar focussed on completing the on-going census survey, and identifying additional communities in Bhubaneswar for proposed community sanitation facilities. So far, J-PAL has collected data in close to 80 community locations.


Cost-Benefit Analysis of Sanitation

Equity and efficiency are both important considerations when it comes to evaluating intervention choices. In resource-constrained situations, one obviously wants to invest in an intervention which gives more “bang for the buck”. While a rights-based approach to development may consider the access to sanitation facilities and the dignity it affords, a basic human right, it may also be important to compare the costs of provision and the benefits arising from it.

The World Bank’s Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (DCP2) takes the perspective of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), and looks at the expected reductions in diarrhea resulting from the provision of various levels of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and arrives at the cost-effectiveness figures.