Project Sammaan at the 2014 Reinvent the Toilet Fair

If you thought toilets and shit aren’t popular topics of conversation, you would have been in for a big surprise if you were anywhere around the recent Reinvent the Toilet Fair (RTTF) that happened in March 2014 in New Delhi. In the second edition of the fair (the first was in Seattle in August 2012), more than 700 participants from about 47 countries gathered to discuss how to bring safe sanitation to the 2.5 billion people who lack access to it. The fair in India was co-hosted by the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the support of India’s Ministry of Urban Development, and it showcased innovative products and approaches from various Gates Foundation grantees from across the (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.


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.


Liaising & Capacity Building

The month of August involved several liaisoning activities. Monthly review meetings helped the team assess the progress of the project in the government wings for both Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC). August also saw enforcement of the Model code of Conduct in 91 ULBs, though BMC and CMC were exempted. A series of discussions and successive decisions in the Government wing helped to lay down strategies for faster and smoother execution of the project, including deciding on the contractor for construction of the 27 Public Toilets in Bhubaneswar.

In the Cuttack Municipal Corporation preparation for submission and approval of the Detailed Project report and other relevant documents for transfer of Government allocated funds was the major activity in August. The Engineering wing provided the Project Sammaan team with several inputs on packaging and technical parameters as per the norms of the Government for the tender. Strategic plans were also developed to ensure that the work orders are issued before the enforcement of the model code of conduct in Cuttack.


Sammaan Communications Overview

The purpose of Project Sammaan, as specified in the grant proposal, is: “To develop an innovative, sustainable, scalable urban community sanitation model which will: (1) reduce the incidence of open defecation and improve health among the urban poor, and (2) lead to the creation of a ‘toolkit’ for successful sanitation interventions (in terms of both the design of community toilet infrastructure and an associated management system) that can be replicated in low-income, high-density urban areas throughout South Asia.”

It is this second point that makes the documentation and information-sharing activities amongst partners so vitally important. The intention is for partners to keep a record of their activities throughout the course of the project in order to make this toolkit as informative and viable as possible. The focus should be on the challenges faced as these will help frame the project while also providing insights to other practitioners that may be facing similar issues in their own sanitation projects.


Documenting Sammaan

Communications efforts are a key part of Project Sammaan. In fact, the grant proposal itself identifies the creation of a dissemination toolkit as second only to reducing instances of open-defecation and improving health amongst India’s urban poor.

By extension, documenting the project’s activities is a vital exercise to ensure that as much detail as possible is captured as it unfolds. The value obviously being that information is captured as it happens, making the insights far richer and impactful than if they were revisited later on in the project.


Outreach & Public Relations Update

June saw a variety of activities on several different communications streams. Most significantly, the project’s profile was added to the SuSanA website, worked continued on the initial draft version of the work-in-progress Technical & Design Guidelines document, and a series of project partner profile videos planned out.

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is a network of organizations working in sustainable sanitation formed in 2007. Its purpose is to act as a forum for those working in the sanitation to share their work while promoting awareness and, hopefully, fostering collaboration amongst members and other interested parties. Currently a project brief and issues of the newsletter have been shared on the site. Going forward, we will contribute photographs and additional documents to continue promotional efforts for the project.


Sammaan on SuSanA!

A significant communications-related milestone has been reached by Project Sammaan: it’s being featured on the global sanitation forum SuSanA! This is obviously a very exciting development and one that will increase the project’s footprint exponentially. It also puts our project in very good company.

Ostensibly, The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is a network of organizations working in sustainable sanitation. Formed in 2007, its purpose is to act as a forum for those working in the sanitation to share their work while promoting awareness and, hopefully, fostering collaboration amongst members and other interested parties.


Project Coordination

The month of May was all about coordinating for the advancement of the project and the pending deliverables to be accomplished. CTRAN successfully coordinated for the exposure visit to Nagpur for the DEWATS system. Apart from this CTRAN arranged and corresponded for the monthly meetings on the 8th and 9th of this month.

Multiple interactions with other divisions concerned with water supply and sewerage for creating a database of information on the sewerage connections in the proposed locations were facilitated.


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.