SuSanA - Forum Kunena Site Syndication Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:28:49 +0000 Kunena 1.6 SuSanA - Forum en-gb Urban Services Initiative (USI) (J-PAL, USA and India, Kenya, Zambia) - use of randomized evaluations to understand barriers to provision of urban services - by: tchupein
Title of grant: Urban Services Initiative (USI)

  • Name of lead organization: Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL),
  • Primary contact at lead organization: Thomas Chupein, Policy Manager, J-PAL,
  • Grantee location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • Developing country where the research is being or will be tested: Various in Asia and Africa
  • Start and end date: 10/14/2011 – 10/31/2015
  • Grant type: (e.g. Global Challenges Explorations, Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, Other) Other
  • Grant size in USD: $4,874,457
  • (see
  • Funding for this research currently ongoing (yes/no): Yes

Short description of the project:
Through use of randomized evaluations, the initiative aims to better understand and address important barriers to the provision of critical urban services.

More information about this methodology (randomized evaluations) is available here:

To identify and rigorously evaluate, through randomized controlled trials, innovative methods designed to improve the welfare of the urban poor in Asia and Africa. USI covers a broad range of urban issues including water, sanitation, and hygiene, migrant integration and livelihoods, energy and the environment, transportation, housing and infrastructure, and delivery of health and education services.

Encourage innovative projects designed to address the challenge of delivering urban services, and use randomized evaluations to test the effectiveness of those innovations in the field; Establish strong research teams, and increase capacity for some developing countries’ researchers to design and conduct rigorous, randomized evaluations to test the effectiveness of their proposed solutions; Disseminate knowledge learned from USI research to policymakers and donors at the local, national, and international levels, so that effective solutions are promoted and scaled-up.

Research or implementation partners: Please see for more information on each of the eleven individual research projects’ institutional partners (also see below).

Links, further readings – results to date:

Current state of affairs:
On-going grantmaking for pilot and full randomized evaluations; eleven on-going research projects in Africa and Asia (see below).

Biggest successes so far:
Successfully executed four competitive rounds of grantmaking, awarding over $1 million to eleven unique research projects; held three conferences in Sri Lanka (2012), South Africa (2013), and Nepal (2014) to develop new research partnerships between J-PAL research affiliates and development practitioners. The most recent one took place in Nepal (see:

Main challenges / frustration:

Those projects under the USI programme with a focus on sanitation include the following five:

Wastewater as a Collective Action Problem: Effluent Trading for Water Quality in Urban India

Researchers: Rohini Pande, Michael Greenstone, Nick Hagerty, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan
Partner(s): Indian state pollution regulator, and a common effluent treatment plant

Location: India
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

The density that defines cities exacerbates collective action problems: my garbage litters your street, my sewage taints your drinking water. Households and firms often do not see the true cost that their waste imposes on others, which leads to excessive discharge. The resultant pollution of common resources, like waterways and reservoirs, imposes high costs on downstream residents. Researchers will investigate whether markets for pollution—specifically, the discharge of industrial effluent in urban India—can provide better incentives for conservation. Such trading markets have never been used to manage water pollution in India. Researchers will partner with an Indian state regulator and a common effluent treatment plant to set up a cap-and-trade system for effluent in a large group of industrial plants. Markets theoretically yield efficient water conservation, provided there are clear property rights and low transaction costs. Researchers will conduct a randomized evaluation of the initial allocation of discharge permits to test this fundamental relationship. This trial will provide policy guidance on the scope for market instruments to address collective action problems in public services with externalities from overuse.

Handwashing and Habit Formation

Researchers: Atonu Rabbani, Reshmaan Hussam, Giovanni Reggiani, Natalie Rigol
Partner(s):Society for Health and Demographic Surveillance, India

Location: India
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Pilot Study

This project addresses poor hand hygiene, a leading driver of child mortality via bacterial and viral contamination and resulting diarrhea and acute respiratory infection. Public health campaigns focused on handwashing with soap have consistently failed to generate long term behavioral change, despite the effectiveness of the practice in clinical studies in improving health. In collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, researchers have developed an innovative measurement tool for handwashing that generates the precise data and feedback loop required to study and nurture systematic behavioral change via the habit loop; the project then employs this device across a large sample of households and nursery schools along with a series of incentive-driven interventions intended to generate sustained habit formation.
This pilot study will take place in West Bengal, India. The study intervention will target mothers and children below age five directly in their homes and through government-funded nurseries. The pilot study will randomize households into one of four treatment arms: 1) handwashing with soap and information, 2) treatment 1 plus monitoring, 3) treatment 2 plus incentives, and 4) treatment 3 plus self-commitment. Each treatment will be cross-randomized with a reminder treatment via text message. Immediate outcomes include frequency and timing of handwashing; long term outcomes include changes in household valuation for soap and detailed child-level health measures.

Creating a Toilet Habit

Researchers: Mushfiq Mobarak, Judy Chevalier, Johann Caro Burnett
Partner(s): Sanergy

Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2013-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

Public health externalities from unhygienic sanitation remain a significant development challenge, even in areas where hygienic latrines are accessible or affordable. We hypothesize that behaviors like open defecation may persist because they represent ingrained habits that are difficult to change. Inspired by findings from psychology and neuroscience, we propose field experiments that are designed to instill a revised habit of community toilet use among the slum population of Nairobi. Our partner, Sanergy has created a network of hygienic latrines in Nairobi, but face a challenge of low demand for the toilets. Habit loops have been successfully created by private sector firms to increase demand for many household products and behaviors such as brushing regularly with Pepsodent toothpaste, or spraying Febreze air freshener. We propose to create such a loop for Sanergy toilets using a combination of economic incentives and a marketing campaign that is attentive to psychological cues and rewards. The experiments are designed to separate habit formation from other closely related models of risk aversion and learning.

Demand for Sanitation in Kenyan Urban Slums

Researchers: Paul Gertler, Sebastian Galiani
Partner(s): Athi Water and Sanitation Board, Nairobi, Kenya; The World Bank; Water and Sanitation Program

Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

We propose to study the demand for household connection to municipal sewage systems in informal slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Governments are investing in expensive sewerage systems to bring sanitation services to the household door. The cost-effectiveness of these investments depends on the number of households that connect to the sanitation systems. However, there are large fixed costs to connect to sewage systems including both the costs charged by the utility investment in household sanitation facilities, and pipes to connect from the house to the network. We propose to use a RCT to estimate price elasticity of the demand for connections, and the extent to which the price elasticity depends on information about the relationship between sanitation and health. We also consider complications related to collective action in multi-household compound connections, and resident versus non-resident landlords. Results from this study are critical to developing pricing/subsidy and information campaign policies to cost-effectively improve connectivity.

Encouraging the Adoption of Improved Sanitation Solutions in Lusaka

Researchers: Muthoni Ngatia, William Pariente, Roland Rathelot
Partner(s): Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)

Location: Zambia
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

We propose to partner with Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) to carry out a research study to test different strategies to encourage the urban poor in three peri-urban areas in Lusaka to build pour-flush latrines that connect to sewerage services. The study further proposes to study the public health implications of having various proportions of a community connected to modern sewerage solutions and to gain a better understanding of low-income urban housing markets.

As this post is quite long I also attach the same content in a pdf file.

Any questions? Please post them here.


*Thomas Chupein*

Policy Manager, J-PAL <> 30 Wadsworth St, E53-334, Cambridge, MA 02142
Follow us on Twitter <>, Facebook <>]]>
Enabling environment Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:48:58 +0000
Re: Data acquisition and field support for sanitation projects (UKZN, South Africa) - Web page development - by: ChrisBuckley The PRG web page is now available at

Over the next month additional data and videos will be added.

Enabling environment Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:58:56 +0000
Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator (University College London, UK) - by: luizacampos
Very interesting work done by Sharma and colleagues. It seems to contains information we have been looking for.

So yes, we can build in NewSan (Prototype) the technologies Mr Sharma's group has analysed. I will get in touch with him.

Thanks a lot.

Enabling environment Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:01:11 +0000
Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator (University College London, UK) - by: AquaVerde May you answer my question?

Additional is your upcoming system flexible enough, to incorporate future "new" developments like this: “Carbon is Money” From Wastewater to Energy – Exploration of Concepts ?

Detlef SCHWAGER]]>
Enabling environment Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:52:37 +0000
Re: Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator (University College London, UK) - by: dorothee.spuhler
Nelson from SEI asked some questions at the end of the re-recording of Luiza's presentation. As volume is quite low, we thought it would be worth to complete the write-up also with a summary of this discussion.
So, here you go…

How do you acquire the input values in order to run your simulations?

The model is based on a simple Material Flow Analysis which needs for the simulation input data and process in order to calculate output flows
Currently all the data used was collected from the literature: input concentrations as well as what happens in the process: e.g. energy consumption or production, decay of nitrogen etc.
Currently only examples were simulated based on the data from literature (e.g. the one's you have see on the diagrams in the presentations).
In the future, the model needs to be validated and calibrated. For this, case studies are needed from places were systems with similar outputs as NewSan produced are implemented. The problem is that most of the technologies, NewSan is looking at only exist at pilot scale and even data from pilot scale does vary if you scale up.

What are the Phosphorus and Nitrogen flows through the system on the slide with the UDDT?

The slide is only showing CAPEX and OPEX. But the simulator can also calculate phosphorus and nitrogen flow or any other of the currently available options (e.g. coliforms, carbon, BOD). They are calculated based on the settlement data which determines the inflows and the transformation and transportations they undergo through the systems.

Are you aware of the washcost project IRC has in the Netherlands has been carrying out?

Yes, and washcosts data was used in the in the work so far. A future collaboration would be welcome but currently, the NewSan Prototyp needs funds.
To have financial resources would help the team to keep the development going more and to validated and calibrate it.
See e.g. here for more info on washcost:


So if you have are working on the implementation of the “new generation of sanitation systems” and have a case study or data to offer to the team, especially on anaerobic digestion or biochar production, let them know...

Cheers, Dorothee]]>
Enabling environment Wed, 05 Feb 2014 15:09:16 +0000
Re: Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator - Sankey diagrams - by: AquaVerde
If possible may you in-cooperate results and calculations by Mr. Sharma and colleagues in your project “NewSan” simulation tool? Is your coming system flexible enough to do so?

Waste to Energy, Technical and Financial Analysis, India
Technical and financial analysis for opportunities and obstacles associated with various FS to energy processing options

Although it is stated, all is based on typical Indian condition, in my educated guessing this conditions are very representative to too many places on earth.

Detlef SCHWAGER]]>
Enabling environment Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:59:32 +0000
Re: Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator - Sankey diagrams - by: masch What sort of experience do others have with the use of Sankey diagrams?

Many regards


Dr. Manfred Schütze
ifak - Institut fuer Automation und Kommunikation e.V. Magdeburg
Wasser und Energie / Water and Energy / Agua y Energía
Werner-Heisenberg-Str. 1
39106 Magdeburg
Tel.: +49-391-9901470, -9901481
Fax: +49-391-9901590
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enabling environment Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:17:37 +0000
Re: Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator (University College London, UK) - by: dorothee.spuhler
„Does the thickness of the arrows have any significance?“
Manfred explained that the results are displayed in “Sankey” diagrams. This means that the width of the arrows is shown proportionally to the flow quantity (nutrients, energy, etc.)]]>
Enabling environment Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:12:34 +0000
Re: Modelling the next generation of sanitation systems - NewSan Simulator (University College London, UK) - by: dorothee.spuhler
The recording of the presentation of Luiza from our webinar number 5 on "Resource recovery and reuse", with the highest number of participants so far, is now available.

Due to the technical problems because of a new subscription and server with Adobe Connect, the recording of the entire webinar is not available. But Luiza was so kind to re-record the presentation and this is the one you can watch under the link below.
Additionally to that, we also did a short write up of the the main issues discussed during the webinar based on the questions of the audience.
Feel free to ask them any other questions here on the forum!


Modeling the next generation of sanitation systems

University College London, UCL, Luiza Campos

Watch the video

Or here:

Powerpoint slides from her presentation are available in the attached file below.

Short description of the project
This project developed a draft version of a simulation tool to enable local decision makers to assess the implications of adopting alternative sanitation strategies at scale. It is based on the simulation of material and resource fluxes through different sanitation systems along the entire sanitation chain, which are built by the user based on processes for the user interface, conveyance/collection, storage and treatment and reuse or recharge. The simulation methodology has been already applied successfully by ifak in several networked sanitation contexts in developing countries. The NewSan Prototype simulator has extended the concept for non-networked systems. The model outputs are, at present, the main energy and nutrients balances. However, other criteria can be added easily. This should help to demonstrate systems which have increased commercial viability due to waste reuse/nutrients recovery. The flexibility of the simulator allows also to include additional modules for sanitation technologies developed in the future.

Issues and questions raised during the webinar discussion with participants:

1) Processes/technologies that could be included in the simulations:
Several people asked if additional or new processes could be included in the overall system modeling tool (e.g. the ones from the Gates projects). Manfred from ifak said yes and he has already made available a questionnaire for this (now posted on the forum here:
Steve Mecca asked precisely how to do to simulate a sanitation system based on his micro-flush toilet with NewSan:
Luiza said that she could offer a project for UCL students to develop the building box of Steve’s system in order to model/simulate with Steve’s system.

2) Software requirements:
NewSan Prototype Simulator is a prototype version and download/use is not available yet to the general public (current version is called "NewSan Prototype Simulator"). However, anyone interested in its later application is invited to contact the developers.
The “NewSan Prototype Simulator” does not need any commercial third-party software. It uses only Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (which is preinstalled on most newer Windows computers; otherwise it can be downloaded free of charge from Microsoft's webpage).
The aim of the Gates founded project was the development of a draft - and that has been achieved. Obviously, it would be nice to further develop it and to improve and to extend its facilities. This, however, would require additional funding (as ifak's funds within this Gates project have long run out).
Suggestions for extending/improving the simulator are most welcome. Those suggestions directed at the simulator program itself (which was developed by ifak) could also be sent directly to ifak ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or write them here on the forum

3) Validation of the model/tool:
Proper validation hasn’t been done yet but some (crude) plausibility check has been done for the model in the Durban case.
NewSan’s team is hoping to get additional funding to support the proper calibration and validation of the tool: the validation would require large sets of appropriate data.

4) A question was raised if Kai Udert from the Vuna project could use this tool:
He said at the moment no plans, also he would need a dynamic model (and NewSan Prototype Simulator is a steady-state model). Manfred from ifak commented to Kai that extensions of the simulator to allow also fully dynamic simulation could indeed be thought of. These are, however, beyond the present scope of NewSan Prototype simulator. If Kai or somebody else should be interested in including fully dynamic simulation, contact ifak ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or write about it here on the forum.]]>
Enabling environment Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:38:24 +0000