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…)

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…)

Anagram’s Current Activities

The Anagram team has been exceptionally busy the last few months due to the progress being made on getting the tenders released, with construction hopefully set to commence in the coming months once the contracts are awarded.


Sammaan’s Technical Workstream

There has been much written about the hardware tendering process that Project Sammaan has been engaged in with both the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the past year.

I work for Arkitechno Consultants and am part of the technical team of engineers on the project. As such, work broadly on two significant workstreams:

1) Interface with the government to prepare the necessary paperwork to facilitate the release of tenders while addressing any technical questions they may have


Government Partners in Sammaan

A lot of my work in Project Sammaan revolves around building strategic relationships with the various government departments in the BMC, the CMC and the Government of Odisha.

Some of the key departments that I interact regularly are:

Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC): BMC is one of the partners of Project Sammaan and is headed by the Mayor, who is an elected representative. From the administrative side, BMC is headed by the Commissioner; from Sammaan side, we have monthly review meetings of the project with the Commissioner.


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.


Architecture & Design Status Report

August has been an incredibly busy month for Anagram Architects and CDD. The tender documents were prepared for the 32 Community Toilet sites in Cuttack and Anagram anchored the process of preparing a bulk of this, and compiling that with inputs from CDD and Codesign, for the sewage treatment systems & signage respectively. With this, all the work for the tender stage has been completed for 11 of the Community Toilet typologies.

The first round of the documents were submitted to the CMC, with the support of Arkitechno. Most of the latter part of the August was spent in revising and correcting some of the estimates in order to work towards the total sanctioned amount of the Preliminary Project Report for Cuttack.


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.


July Recap

The month of July was phenomenal for both strategic planning and milestone achievement!

Among these milestones was the procurement of administrative approval from the Government of Odisha by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, which was routed through the Housing and Urban Development Department. The administrative approval from the government was the final authentication on the estimates of the public sanitation facilities. This also supported a step ahead in the project by initiating the tendering process. The format of the tender document has been pushed to the Engineering team for final scrutiny.


Of Signs & Signage

As keen readers of the Project Sammaan blog and people deeply invested in the project, you already know that the signage tender for 4 community toilet typologies has just been sent out. As we work on refining the designs for the signs themselves, and creating the specifications for the remaining typologies, this seemed like a great spot to take a step back and reveal the signage program for the Project Sammaan toilet facilities.

There are four different categories of signs in the Project Sammaan facilities: