IWA Publishing

Slum sanitation project Mumbai, India

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1. Overview and key points

Through investment by [J1] [A2] s and the support and creation of competent Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Small Local Business Enterprises (SLBEs), community toilet blocks were constructed and set up in Mumbai for slum dwellers under the [J3] [A4] (SSP). Prior to its implementation; awareness and education campaigns were initiated throughout [J5] [A6] , willingness to pay (WTP) surveys were carried out, and meetings were held with community members. These activities highlighted the fact that the vast majority were in favour of the provision of sanitation facilities through these community blocks. The demand response approach is seen to be a necessary element when identifying sustainability of projects.

  • Community toilet blocks constructed for slum dwellers under the Slum Sanitation Project (SSP) based on a demand-response approach.
  • Construction of the toilet blocks could only begin once 50% of the expected maintenance funds of the toilets were collected from residents.
  • Toilet facilities operated on two pay systems – a monthly pass for families and a one-off tariff for floating population.
  • Stakeholder involvement and participation enabled the success of this project.

2. Background

Greater Mumbai hosts a population of 16million plus [J7] [A8] [1]. Prior to the SSP, sanitation improvement schemes for these slums were implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) through [J9] [A10] using a supply-driven approach. Subsequently, 80% of publicly constructed toilet blocks were found to not be functioning and thus incapable of meeting the demand[2]. These facilities were also putting pressure on public finances since the MCGM was responsible for the maintenance of [J11] [A12] . Taking this into consideration, it was thought necessary to develop an appropriate strategy for meeting the needs of slum dwellers on a more sustainable basis and thus, a study was commissioned for the implementation of improved sanitation facilities specifically to the needs of this sector.

3. Project planning and design

The SSP was added to the World Bank funded Bombay Sewage Disposal Project (BSDP) in order to improve health and environmental conditions of slum dwellers in Greater Mumbai. Launched in 1997, The SSP [J13] [A14] to provide a package of hardware and software components designed to provide a guaranteed level of service of usability and uninterrupted use.

Objectives included:

  1. Creation of competent CBOs with the management competencies to operate and maintain the sanitation blocks.
  2. A communication campaign targeted towards slum dwellers to provide information about the SSP implementation and management procedures and to promote improved hygiene behaviours.
  3. Construction of community toilet blocks by contractors, implemented in collaboration with the relevant utilities for water and electricity supply.

The first phase of this project targeted 1 million slum dwellers located on municipal land. Following this, in the second phase, slums located on land owned by other landowners were included in the project2.

4. Technology option

The toilet blocks were constructed in both [J15] [A16] slums, where notified slums are those whose existence is given legal recognition and families are given the right to dwell. These blocks contained standard features including bathing cubicles, urinals and squatting platforms for defecation. These platforms were also adapted for children, allowing for adult supervision and a set of equipped handles to help keep balance. The community toilets were designed to have an average of 16-20 seats, which were clearly separated for men, women and children. Where space was limited, the blocks were built on two floors with a men’s section on the ground floor and a women/children’s section on the first floor. Above this, a space was made for a water tank and a couple of small rooms to accommodate the caretaker of the facility. In addition, the community blocks provided two essential services: 24hour water and electricity supply. In order to guarantee safe disposal of sewage, the blocks were connected to the municipal sewerage network. If this was not possible because of accessibility problems to the network system, [J17] [A18] was provided ensuring that maintenance of the system was possible[3].

5. Institutional and management arrangements

Following a loan from the World Bank for the BSDP, it was decided by them that it would be more appropriate to provide a guiding framework based on a demand driven and participatory approach rather than laying out detailed implementation details.

The MCGM managed the bidding process enabling NGO participation. This contracting process was carried out in an integrated manner focusing on the final output required (the entire sanitation package) rather than contracting individual components of the project. The MCGM was also in charge of providing the initial capital required for the project and creating an environment which encouraged the participation of other stakeholders.

Private sector companies were contracted by the MCGM as the NGOs did not have the necessary technical skills at their disposition to build the sanitation facilities required. At the same time, NGOs were contracted to complete a number of activities from the development of information campaigns, to willingness to pay (WTP) assessments, support to slum dwellers for the creation of CBOs/SLBEs, collection of user deposits [J19] [A20] , and organizing building permits from MGCM. The responsibilities of these organizations mainly emphasised mobilizing communities and facilitating their participation by linking these with the local government. Both these were achieved in Greater Mumbai by engaging experts, retired state government officials and advertising professions to accomplish an effective communication strategy.

[J21] [A22] It was also their responsibility to take charge of operations and management and decide on and collect user tariffs. These groups were required to be registered as a Trust or Society, in order to obtain legal status. Due to this, they were able to manage the blocks, obtain water/electricity connections and open bank accounts. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the MCGM and each of the CBOs/SLBEs, after the toilet blocks were constructed, stating various standards and parameters related to the maintenance, operation and accessibility of the facilities such as cleanliness, transparency, inclusiveness etc. The MoU ensured that CBOs/SLBEs were to operate and maintain the blocks, and the MCGM retain the right to evaluate the performance of these entities over time and if need be, replace them in the case of low performance measured against the parameters agreed in the same document.

[J23] [A24] [J25]

The capital costs pertaining to this project [J26] [A27] at US$ 28million which was borne by MCGM with a loan from the World Bank covering 60% of the costs. Prior to any construction however, residents were to pay an [J28] [A29] of Rs 100 (US$ 2.24), which was put into a joint account with the CBO and the Municipality to be used [J30] . Only when 50% of the expected maintenance funds for every toilet block were collected, was the construction allowed to take place. This collection by the SLBEs demonstrated their commitment towards the SSP process.

Once the toilets were constructed, it was the CBOs responsibility to set monthly charges per family per month for the use of facilities which were in the order of Rs 10-30/ family (US$ 0.22 – 0.67). In order to satisfy the needs of transient population, a [J31] [A32] was also introduced whereby users paid a fee of Rs 1 (US$ 0.02) per use. This turned to be a major source of income for the community toilets, which was used for the operation and maintenance of the facilities.

7. Project outcomes and impacts

[J33] , over 328 toilet blocks and more than 5100 toilet seats had been constructed in the slum areas across Mumbai under the SSP. Since every toilet seat is aimed at providing a service to 50 users, this amounts to more than 250,000 people who use these improved facilities. One of the main outcomes of this project was the successful partnership between all the stakeholders involved. Each of the actors’ roles was identified and interactions in the project were laid out so that every stakeholder could participate and play the role that best suited them.

[J34] [A35] Since the communities maintain overall control for the operation and maintenance of the blocks, they are free to decide on the addition of any facilities to the area through the contribution of extra funds. In this way, a number of community blocks have increased in size to include gyms, playgrounds and community centres.

8. Overall sustainability of system

Community involvement and participation has plaid a key role in ensuring the sustainability of the sanitation blocks in the slums of Mumbai. The community was involved from the initial planning stages and their engagement continued to the extent that eventually it was the community themselves through [J36] [A37] that were operating and maintaining the system. This sense of control over the entire process brings out a sense of ownership, which is critical for the the sustainability of [J38] system. [A39]

When considering the toilets themselves, cleanliness and appropriate maintenance are factors that play a role in encouraging use and providing healthy and safe conditions. These conditions could be verified at any stage for monitoring and evaluation purposes In order to evaluate and monitor this, [J40] Besides this, waste is managed in a safe manner since the facilities are connected to the main cities sewerage network. If this however is not possible, arrangements are made for any waste to be disposed off in-situ using facilities such as large septic tanks.

9. Lessons learned

  • Ownership

The main difference between a public toilet and community blocks are that the latter belong to a specific community of users and are generally not for public use. This installs within communities a sense of ownership, which translates into greater responsibility for operation and maintenance of the assets. Moreover the choice of technologies and the particular location of these blocks reflected the collective views of the community, thereby increasing the sense of ownership between slum dwellers.

  • Learning by doing approach

Stakeholder involvement in the SSP was successful as a result of a learning-by-doing approach. Since the implementation was carried out [J41] [A42] , a survey was undertaken between these two stages in order to assess the level of progress and identify project [J43] [A44] which could be improved. This process was critical in helping the municipality have an overall view of sanitation problems in slums and ways in which to comprehensively tackle these problems.

  • Institutionalisation and partnerships

Working across complementary government institutions and departments encourages mainstreaming of all necessary bureaucratic procedures in order to speed up implementation.

  • Partnerships and involvement.

Partnerships between stakeholders were seen to be crucial for the success of the SSP in order to ensure that each of the stakeholders performed the role that they can do best. These partnerships were actively encouraged, including those between slum communities. These were involved in project implementation right from the planning stage, expressing their willingness to contribute to the finances of the project as well as taking part in the site selection, toilet block design and providing assistance through the construction process.

  •  Commitment prior to construction

[J45] [A46] The MCGM only issued a building permit for community toilet blocks once SLBEs have collected at least 50% of the expected maintenance funds and develop a technically sound and community endorsed plan for the toilet block. Construction work can only begin after this process is complete

10. Recommendation

  • Increased support and capacity building

Although CBOs were expected to take control of the finances related to the operation and maintenance of the facilities, it was observed that not all of them had the capacity or facilities to do this. Accounts on daily payments from transient population and cash receipts for monthly passes, were not maintained making billing extremely difficult. [A47]

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