Bringing sustainable and equitable sanitation services to small and medium towns in India (CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India)

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Bringing sustainable and equitable sanitation services to small and medium towns in India (CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India)

Dear all,

Please find information below about a grant in India which I am involved with here at CEPT University and which is funded by the Gates Foundation and DfID (UK).

Title of grant: Bringing sustainable and equitable sanitation services to small and medium towns in India
  • Subtitle: Making Cities Open Defecation Free and Supporting implementation of Fecal Sludge Management Plan. Note: We had initially started with 3 cities in Phase 1 of the project, but under the phase 2 grant we will be working with only 2 cities.
  • Name of lead organization: CEPT University
  • Primary contact at lead organization: Dr. Meera Mehta / Dr. Dinesh Mehta
  • Grantee location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
  • Developing country where the research is being tested: India
  • Start and end date: November, 2014 to November 2017
  • Grant type: Other
  • Grant size: USD 457,889 (as per BMGF grant database here plus funding from DFID (USD 500,000)
Short description of the project:

This project demonstrates an approach for small and medium towns in India to achieve universal sanitation. This includes promoting ‘one family one toilet’ where possible, as well as safe collection, conveyance, and treatment of fecal sludge. While the local governments are mandated with this responsibility, the project will explore private sector participation for FSM activities and in financing household sanitation as well as FSM. It is expected that work in the two small and medium towns (Wai and Sinnar) will inform state level efforts in developing regulatory frameworks and policies that will overcome the barriers to sanitation service provision in small and medium towns.

The following three principal outcomes are envisaged in this project:
  • First, it will be ensured that appropriate PPP framework is used in two urban local bodies (ULBs) to provide a citywide Integrated Fecal Sludge Management (IFSM) for the safe collection and treatment of fecal sludge.
  • Second, the two cities will move towards open defecation free (ODF) status by having “own toilet” in every house. This will be through a) implementation of a demand based scheme to promote construction of own toilets by households, b) facilitating access to various credit options, and c) an effective monitoring system.
  • Third, based on our experiences and learnings from these two projects a set of toolkits on FSM and PPP will be developed. These tools will be used for training of around 50 ULBs in Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states. The toolkits will also be disseminated at state/national levels and various global platforms.

To bring universal sanitation services across the FSM chain to two small towns in Maharashtra, India and capture the lessons in order to build the capacity of other small and medium cities in the state of Maharashtra and India to implement similar activities.


Within 3 years, the objective for this project is to demonstrate a process for small and medium towns to achieve universal sanitation services, including access to toilets, as well as safe collection, conveyance, treatment and disposal of waste, with private sector participation for operation and financing. In the course of this project, we hope to develop regulatory frameworks and policies that will overcome the barriers to sanitation service provision in small and medium towns through three outcomes:

o Promote PPP for safe collection and treatment of fecal sludge through decentralized systems
o Promote elimination of open defecation in cities through universal access to ‘own’ toilets
o Engage private players in the provision of sanitation services, and build the capacity of ULBs to manage their performance

Research or implementation partners:

Local Governments , State Government of Maharashtra, Maharashtra Environmental Engineering Training and Research Academy (MEETRA), Dalberg Global Development Advisors

Links, further readings – results to date:
  1. Documents in SuSanA library (contains one presentation from Hanoi workshop in January 2015 so far):
  2. FSM assessment and planning toolkit:
  3. Support to cities for becoming ODF:'own%20toilets'.pdf
  4. Training of local construction contractors:
  5. Support to cities for implementing IFSM:
  6. Capacity building on FSM of contractors and ULB:
  7. Capacity building of ULB for FSM:
  8. Household credit for Urban Sanitation (Report: / Presentation: )

Current status of the project:

The current status for the three outcomes is as follows:

Promote PPP for Integrated Fecal Sludge Management: The local government has agreed to the plans to achieve safe collection and treatment of fecal sludge by implementing city-wide fecal sludge management (IFSM) services. This will involve private sector partnerships with local government (LG) for scheduled cleaning of household septic tanks on a 3 year regulated cycle. The LGs will also initiate construction and operation of appropriate facilities for treatment of sludge for safe disposal and/or reuse. This will be funded through local government’s levy of sanitation taxes. We are also exploring innovative funding options like CSR funds to be utilized through a City Sanitation Fund account and Crowdfunding.

Promote elimination of open defecation in cities through access to own toilets: Over 25% of households in both the cities do not have own toilets. A national and state government programme provides small grant to eligible households. The two local governments have also agreed to provide additional grant. CEPT team has assessed other potential sources of finance for households to meet the gap. We have facilitated household access to credit providers and promoted a City Sanitation Fund (CSF) account to capture potential funds from local benefactors, CSR funds from corporate sector and other social investors. Support is being provided to the local government to set up a monitoring system for the toilet construction programme and FSM. Workshops for training of local construction contractors for proper construction of onsite systems have been organized. We have also carried out various awareness activities. A workshop on 'Swachh Nagar - Making Toilets and Septic tanks work' was organized to raise awareness of municipal staff and local contractors regarding various design norms and regulations related to toilet and septic tank design and construction. We also organized workshops on household credit for sanitation finance. A range of financial institutions were consulted to make them aware of the large, but untapped market of sanitation finance.

Build capacity of small and medium town officials to engage private players in the provision of sanitation services, and manage their performance: We have assessed the potential for private sector engagement in the provision of integrated fecal sludge management services, and in providing credit services for toilet construction. As we implement private sector engagements for the above interventions in the cities, we have captured our learnings to develop: a) a toolkit to assist LGs in identifying and assessing private sector engagements, and b) a user-centric toolkit to train city officials on how to use performance based contracting and monitoring to effectively plan and manage private sector engagements. In addition, capacity building programmes for small contractors involved in toilet construction have been organized. A toolkit on city wide FSM has been developed. Training workshop on septage management plan was organized for local governments in Maharashtra in collaboration with MEETRA. CEPT team also provided inputs to an ADB workshop on septage management for local government and state officials from all over India.

Biggest successes so far:

For the three outcomes we have been able to achieve following success:
  • One of the two cities that we have worked was declared open defecation free and was among the 19 cities in the state of Maharashtra to be recognized by the state government.
  • Significant headways in Sanitation financing – establishment of a “city sanitation fund” at city level, and development of special “toilet loan product” by housing finance institution.
  • A web based FSM toolkit developed. This toolkit provides a framework and tools for developing and implementing a city wide FSM plan.
Main challenges / frustration:

Financing Sludge treatment facility: Small towns require a facility that has low capital and operating costs. Even such low-cost facilities are beyond the budget of local governments. Reuse of treated sludge has no market, since chemical fertilisers are highly subsidized in India. So a business model needs to be developed.

Aasim Mansuri
Senior Research Associate,
Center for Water and Sanitation
CEPT University, Ahmedabad-380009, Gujarat, India
M: +91 98 98 324874 | O: +91 79 26302470

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