Habitat Observatory

    An Innovative Engagement Model on Sanitation
  In India,about 600 million Indians defecate in the open. Lack of adequate sanitation hits the urban poor the hardest, as they lose approximately 10 per cent of their income on health-related impact of open defecation.

The Government plans had various schemes to build public toilets, but this does not improve the situation because the systems to maintain the toilet blocks are weak and the decision to defecate in the open is not dictated by lack of economic resources and infrastructure alone. Most urban slum dwellers are rural migrants and are not habituated towards using a community toilet. In response to the paucity of clean, usable public toilets and the recurring health scares that emerge seasonally, Samagra came up with aninnovative engagement model around sanitation.

Samagra engagement model aims to provide access to clean, safe, and reliable community toilet facilities for the urban slum-dwelling poor. The model was implemented in two slum areas of Pune – Kothrud and Wajre. In both these slums, public toilets were available but were unfit for use. They were poorly maintained, had ventilation issues, had no lights since vandals made away with the bulbs and had no dustbins. Operators working on a fixed low salary stay on the job as they get a free place to live. They see that the toilet services are free, and therefore are not motivated to keep it clean.

Samagra’s engagement model “motivates” (not forces) people to pay and actively involves and incentivizes all the stakeholders – the end users, the government, local store owners, toilet operators and SHGs/ NGOs serving the community. For the municipal corporations, it provides a data visualization platform, where it can monitor toilet usage and its maintenance. Operators in this model can retain all their collections as their income, so they are incentivized to engage more and more users. The end user is incentivized through reward points for early payment of toilet usage fees, which can be redeemed at different vendor outlets. The reward point partners, who are typically the neighborhood stores, have a clear advantage of securing asteady clientele and revenues.

Samagra’s services include upgrading and retrofitting existing toilet blocks, creating a pseudo-franchise model for operations and maintenance, educating end users on health, hygiene and sanitation and rewarding them for adopting healthy and hygienic behavior. Samagra’s rewards program forms the fulcrum for the other services. When households pay on time for their monthly usage (between the 1st and 5th of each month) they earn rewards points that they can redeem against purchases of basic products such as soaps, shampoos, detergents, biscuits and edible oil from the local vendors.

According to Swapnil Chaturvedi, the man behind this model, “The progress is slow but it is bringing sustainable change as behavior change can happen only through small/incremental progress. And once behavior gets changed this way, there is no going back”. The Pune Municipal Corporation has seen the concept working in two slum areas and is keen to roll out more toilet blocks quickly to other slums of Pune as well.

A local resident of Pune’s Warje slum, Hiralal,who migrated here 12 years ago, earlier used to be very reluctant to use the toilet near their home. According to him, “It was very difficult to even enter the place. It was dark, extremely dirty and they would fall ill frequently.”Now, he pays Rs50 per month for using the Samagra-managed public toilet. Although, the fee is more than what was charged by the Pune Municipal Corporation; which was in-charge earlier, he believes the priceis worth it. “It’s more dignified and far cleaner,” says Hiralal.

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    Kudumbashree - A Social Purpose Vehicle to Facilitate Habitat Programs
  Kudumbashree, a women oriented, community based project is launched by the Government of Kerala, India in order to address poverty reduction in the state. It acts as a nodal agency which coordinates the state level action plans in the project field, while working with the communities through grassroots level workers.

In its initiative, Kudumbashree provides micro housing loans called Bhavnashree. Banking institutions provide loans to the existing members of the community for up-gradation, repair and construction of new houses. The housing loan is processed through tri-partite agreement between the beneficiary, community development societies and financial institutions. Under the EMS housing scheme, the Government of Kerala provides financial support of INR 75,000/- to the beneficiary. The scheme is thereby, merged with this program for poor women to avail access to finance. The scheme margin of self-finance is drawn in the ratio of 0% to 25% based on the financial and economic condition of the household. Besides providing subsidised loans, Kudumbashree also facilitates logistic support for material procurement, design and development of houses through the use of green material technology with support from the Habitat Technology Group based in Kerala. Under this scheme, around 19,922 households were constructed with a financial support of INR 6765.91 Lakhs.

Kudumbhashree carries out a consultative process to understand the housing requirements of the community and the construction cost budget. The construction process is then arranged by the Habitat Technology Group and the government ensures that the building material costs are met as any change in the material costs would directly affect the end beneficiary.

Kudumbhashree has helped in facilitating Central Government programs such as Rajiv AwaasYojna (RAY) and Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the growth of the city by addressing the needs of the poor and also basic infrastructure needs of the state.

The initiative of the Government of Kerala has received various UN-Habitat awards for best practices in habitat growth and was recognised by the Central Government for implementation of Basic Service for Urban Poor (BSUP) Programs and excellence in Public Administration. This model can be replicated in other places as well to address the housing deficit.

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