Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

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  • paresh
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Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear all,
This thread is about my PhD research, I plan to use this as a sounding board, discuss ideas and update fellow members.  

I started my PhD journey in July 2016 with Prof. N C Narayanan at Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT-Bombay with financial support from the Institute for 5 years. I explored quite a bit before deciding that my research inquiry will be qualitative in nature and use case study/multiple case study as research strategy. Since FSM was gaining traction and a colleague was already studying stickiness of the centralised imagination in sanitation sector, I decided to broadly look at how FSM is being planned in small towns. I was earlier thinking of analysing the case studies using theories related to sociotechnical change, but decided to stick to planning of which I have practical understanding and experience.
 
I am almost done with the case of Alleppey, a town in Kerala and some initial work in Dhenkanal, Odisha. I would have been on the field this time around, hoping to finish the field-work but had to be put on hold due to on-going pandemic. I am using this time to learn the craft of academic writing (I come with a strong practice background) while working on a couple of papers, but will probably take some time to see them published.

I chose to  study towns in Kerala and Odisha as the performance of the two states has been starkly different. While Kerala had near universal coverage of toilets according to the Census 2011, it has not been able construct treatment plants over the last decade. This is despite a 2011 order from the High court of Kerala to treat domestic wastewater. On the contrary, Odisha had nearly one-third urban households defecating in the open but have constructed faecal sludge treatment plants in 11 towns and implemented deep-row trenching as an interim measure in many other towns. 

To be honest, I am not sure at the moment but will probably also study some aspects of the process followed in other states where FSM is being implemented in many towns. While I was at C-WAS, CEPT university, I was part of the team supporting the towns of Wai and Sinnar, I suppose I could add case of either of these towns.   

Please feel free to shoot questions, comment, suggestions, references to other case-studies, planning frameworks and anything that you think a PhD candidate trying to understand planning processes (for FSM or sanitation or any basic service) needs to know :) 

Regards
paresh

PS: This post was due for quite some time, especially since as a moderator, I  have been suggesting other graduate students to use this forum in their research process rather than simply posting the outcomes of their research 
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • neildias
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Hi Paresh,
I am a chemical engineering undergraduate, second year (conditionally in year three due to the corona crisis). I'm from ICT Mumbai, an institution you're probably familiar with, given that you are from IIT-B. I find your work quite interesting, and having developed an interest in such areas myself, I was wondering if I could help you with any work, such as is within my capabilities, because that would help me to see how research works, and get a better glimpse into this field.
Thanks.
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  • Malini
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear Paresh,

Happy to read your post and look forward to updates from you. 

I support a town called Narsapur in Andhra Pradesh. A small town of 60,000 population with more than 60% urban poor and vunerable. One of the biggest challenges in implementing sanitation services in a small town such as this is shortage of municipal funds, tariff for services such that it is pro-poor and yet helps in sustaining quality service delivery. Would be keen to learn from you about any useful models / lessons that you study. Also, feel free to add Narsapur to your list of cities. Will be happy to support. 

best 
Malini 
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  • paresh
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear Malini,
Thank you for your kind words. I certainly will keep posting updates here and hopefully also presenting and publishing. 
The future course of my research is contingent upon how the CoVID-19 situation evolves and time left after I can resume field-work. Off course, I am aware of ASCI's work in Narsapur and hope to include in my research.

Dear Neil,
Unfortunately, I have no expertise in the area of your work. But I do know that characterisation of faecal sludge and solid waste is under-studied. You could look at work of Prof. H S Shankar (IIT-Bombay) and  Prof. Ligy Phillips (IIT-Madras). 

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Hi Paresh,

Thanks a lot for the tips, I will do so. Good luck with your research!
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear All,
Sharing the abstract and presentation of a work in progress paper based on my first case study  of Alleppey, Kerala. I recently presented this at a conference and currently  writing this paper with my supervisor Prof N C Narayanan. A short description below.

This is a qualitative study to understand the challenges faced by local governments in planning and implementing city-wide FSM services. Besides analysing documents like legislation, State Sanitation Strategy, government orders, local government plans, we use semi-structured interviews of officials at the local government and with various state government agencies. We used the enabling environment framework (first proposed by Luthi, Morel, et al 2011 through CLUES guidelines) to analyse the same. We found that all the six factors that constitute enabling environment  to be atleast partially facilitative (see table below) and the ULB officials are aware of ways to overcome the inadequacies. Lack of support by the local leadership is the single barrier in installing sanitary infrastructure.  We find other factors also at work in the process, viz; (lack of) external support, (lack of) knowledge management and vested interests and therefore call for expansion of the enabling environment framework itself.



A few questions that I continue to have are:
  1. Is ‘physical characteristics’ (population density, un/availability of land, regional settings) also an attribute that needs consideration?
  2. Is knowledge management included in the factor 'skills and capacity'?
  3. Defining/limiting the ‘case’ in a multi-level governance framework.  Particularly in a context where experience of nearby towns/capital city (in my other case study) also influences decisions made by smaller ULBs
Critique and feedback is welcome. 

Regards
paresh

Details:
Title: Enabling Provision of faecal sludge management services in small towns: A case of Alleppey, Kerala
Authors: Chhajed-Picha Paresh, Narayanan N C
Presented at: 1st International Conference of Urban Science and Engineering on 29th Feb 2020 included in the book of abstracts (ISBN - 9789389063912)
Organised by: Centre for Urban Science and Engineering (CUSE) at IIT-B.

PS: I also presented a version of this at CEPT Research Symposium 2020 at CEPT University, Ahmedabad.
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • dorothee.spuhler
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear Paresh

Thank you for sharing some of the results from your work and the case in Allepey.
You asked three questions and I will try to react on those.

1. Is ‘physical characteristics’ (population density, un/availability of land, regional settings) also an attribute that needs consideration?

First I would need to understand, how you define "Attribute". Looking at the term from a decision analysis perspective, it would mean that you use this attribute to measure the overall criteria if an "enabling environment" is given? Then I believe that the 'physical characteristics can or cannot be considered for the enabling environment (e.g. if they are very difficult this makes the implementation more difficult". but personally, I tend to think that physical conditions should be considered when identifying appropriate sanitation technology and system options as part of step 5 of CLUES and it should be the task of the engineering consultants with participation of the stakeholders to identify what are the conditions (not only physical, but also managerial, technical, etc.) conditions that define what criteria define wheather a given technical solution would be appropriate or not.

2. Is knowledge management included in the factor 'skills and capacity'?

Again, I would need to better understand what you mean with "knowledge management". In line with your previous question, I guess you mean that information is made effectively available on different technical and management solutions and  and when they might should be considered or not? If yes, it would go under "skills and capacity".

3. Defining/limiting the ‘case’ in a multi-level governance framework.  Particularly in a context where experience of nearby towns/capital city (in my other case study) also influences decisions made by smaller ULBs

I am not sure what the question is. But it might be possible to analyse what strategies exist in similar context to overcome the hindering aspects in your analysis of the enabling environment, especially regarding institutional arrangements, legal and regulatory framework, and skills and capacities.

Hope my reflections helps you somehow!
Dorothee
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Developing methods and tools to support strategic planning for sustainable sanitation. Particular interested in novel technologies contributing to more inclusive and circular sanitation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Thanks Dorothee for responding. 

I am looking at enabling environment from the perspective of provision of services, and lack of treatment facilities tends to be the bottleneck in many towns. I know for certain that lack of land where treatment facilities can be easily located (many reasons can impede identification of such a land parcel) has been one of the reasons that has delayed construction of  treatment plants and hence provision of services itself. The CPHEEO manual (considered as their holy Grail by Engineers in India) also considers land (along with capital) as a key factor that determines selection of treatment technology. It is for these reasons and my training in urban planning that I tend to think physical characteristics should be an attribute. 

What I meant by knowledge management was limited to the process through which local stakeholders learn about new ways of service provision or new technologies. They can be through institutional arrangements already in place or through an individual's exploration or because of a private vendor interested in expansion, etc. In this sense, I agree that skills and capacity subsumes knowledge management. 

I am now better informed and hence in a better position to distinguish between the context and the case. As I mentioned earlier, decisions taken by local governments in small towns are often influenced by experience of large cities. They are also contingent on decisions of state (provincial) government which may also be influenced by experience of larger cities. It is in this context that I was finding it difficult to define the case. As you mention, some components of the enabling environment are common for all cities, large or small within a state (province) and that also needs to be clearly distinguished.

Thanks again for responding. Your comments (and your paper ) have been very helpful.  

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • kdick
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear Paresh,

Great to hear about the great work you started in 2016 to study the FSM services in small towns in India 🇮🇳. Your study is very interesting and the methodology you chose is very appropriate for a topic that is not widely researched. I believe your findings will help to improve Sanitation planning in India especially the FSM. I am interested in your work and would like to follow your research to learn from the India experience. We have just assumed the responsibility of Sanitation management in our Department to transform from water resources management to the Department of Water & Sanitation.
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Re: Discussions about my PhD work (hoping to complete by 2021): Planning city-wide FSM services in small towns in India

Dear Kene,
Thank you for your kind words. Glad that you find my work interesting. I shall keep posting updates here. 
That is an interesting transition you mention. I know of some professionals who transitioned from drinking water supply to sanitation (mostly due to a shift in focus). I am curious to know more about sanitation related work at your department. 

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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