Seeking Participants for a Sanitation Scale Lab (in India)

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  • kshane
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Seeking Participants for a Sanitation Scale Lab (in India)

Greetings everyone!

A few weeks ago I posted on the forum asking for assistance in locating a sanitation stakeholder map; thank you to everyone who responded as the resources you directed me to were fantastic.

The reason I was looking for such a visualization is that the design research and innovation consultancy I work with, Quicksand ( www.quicksand.co.in ), is partnering with the global sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future ( www.forumforthefuture.org ) to host a “Sanitation Scale Lab” in India. We’re seeing so much energy, momentum and innovation happening around sanitation in India at the moment - yet it still isn’t mainstreaming; individuals innovations, projects and initiatives alone can only take us so far.

Quicksand’s experience in the space has shown that far too often sanitation policies, and therefore projects, are geared towards addressing only one, or at best a few, aspects of an otherwise complex ecosystem: behavior change is often only viewed through the lens of the end-users and does not factor in the changes needed from politicians and implementers, infrastructural improvements alone fail to move the needle as they lack community engagement, short-term engagements tend to lead to long-term issues as operations and maintenance approaches are not geared towards long-term sustainability, and on and on. Only by addressing and streamlining the challenges and activities of all actors in the sanitation space can we begin to solve the crisis in India (and abroad).

In order to disrupt the status quo - we must be looking at how we can deliberately combine efforts that sets the sanitation agenda and action in India on the right course. And with so much planned investment happening from the government, foundations and corporates - there is a timely imperative to ensure this is taking us in the right direction, and in a joined up way.

Forum for the Future’s Scaling Up Impact framework ( scalingupimpact.forumforthefuture.org/ ) and Scale Lab process provides a potential way forward. The Scaling Up Impact framework is designed to drive deliberate and collective action to accelerate impact on sustainability, and requires organisations involved to come together to understand the full picture. By doing this, collectively we’ll gather an understanding of the different enablers of change that various initiatives are using- Including the innovations in sanitation, successful behaviour change approaches, policy mechanisms, business models required and more.

Addressing the issue of sanitation through a Scale Lab will allow us to collectively build a holistic picture of the sanitation ecosystem India needs; understanding the challenges and barriers that still prevent the solutions in sanitation from mainstreaming in India and identifying where the untapped potential for scale is. We hope this process will create a coalition of willing partners, who together can prototype and test collective actions that drives impact at a greater scale, unlocking additional resources and commitment to drive forward scale, and share the learning and practice to support wider, collective action.

The intention with this work is to diagnose the challenge (i.e., what’s standing in the way of scale?) and assess how they might be able to create collective action together. The hope is to identify the shared sanitation impact that these partners are trying to achieve and how the overlaps and synergies can be capitalized on to achieve greater impact. Unlike other industries and sectors, solving India’s, and the world’s, sanitation crisis benefits all people; there is an absolute need for cooperation and collaboration in order to achieve real, long-lasting change, and at a scale that matches the immense challenge at hand.

The literal manifestation of the scale lab could take various forms. Our initial ideas are that there will be working sessions with groups assembled around key “sub-challenges” within India’s sanitation crisis. These groups will use the initial diagnoses of their issues to develop workstreams for collective action in addressing the identified barriers to progress, with appropriate goals and timeframes for each, and with full support and facilitation from Forum for the Future and Quicksand. Following this, partners will test and prototype the intervention(s) which they feel will help overcome the barriers at hand and lead to scale, with learnings recorded and shared along the way.

An “India Sanitation Scale Lab” would be just one of a collection of “Scale Labs” taking place across the globe on a variety of issues in 2015. The culmination of all this effort will be a summit, which will be a global knowledge-sharing event, both physically and virtually, to disseminate the solutions that have emerged. Partners from each of the working groups will present their workstreams, including the solutions or results that each arrived at. Beyond this, enablers capable of supporting ambitious and ongoing collective action will be convened to produce momentum from the potential solutions. The focus is to provide to the sanitation sector at large a greater understanding of what it takes to achieve impact at scale while also providing an approach that can be applied to sustainability challenges moving forward.

We are in the early stages of planning the Sanitation Scale Lab, but the preliminary conversations we have had with various stakeholders have been extremely positive. While we are still in the process of lining up the necessary funding for the Lab, we’d love to hear from any practitioners in the Indian space that would be interested in participating in this with us; please let me know and we can take the conversation forward from there. Also, if anyone can help point us in the direction of any funding bodies you feel would be interested in supporting this, we’d greatly appreciate that information too.


Cheers and thanks!

Kevin
Kevin Shane
Communications Lead - Quicksand
Delhi, India
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Quicksand.co.in
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Seeking Participants for a Sanitation Scale Lab

Dear Kevin,*

I came across this post of yours from a month ago. This sounds really interesting. I think it's always quite exciting when we move out of our usual "sanitation spheres" into broader spheres, connecting with other types of initiatives, like this global sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future ( www.forumforthefuture.org ) who wants to host a “Sanitation Scale Lab” in India.

Could you tell us a bit more how it would work in practical terms: is it all face to face or more virtual? If face to face then which Indian city would it likely take place? How many people or organisations would take part in it? How much funding do you need to get together to make it happen? Are there examples of previous "labs" that have led to real outputs, changes or solutions?

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

* I have moved this thread from "events" to "market development" as I think it fits better here. Do you agree?
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • kshane
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Re: Seeking Participants for a Sanitation Scale Lab

Hi Elisabeth, et al.

This is a very preliminary exploration to see if there is any interest from sanitation practitioners. Regrettably, we have not been able to elicit much interest from those in the sector, but are still trying to find a funding partner to take this from a conversation to something more concrete. The challenge, I think, has been that we're putting the cart before the horse: trying to find people to commit to something that is still an abstraction rather than finalizing a format, along with a time and place for it, and then issuing invites.

With respect to your questions:
1. As of now, the format could be both virtual and face-to-face, though we feel that it would have greater impact if all participants were together in one place.

2. As we are based in Delhi, we would try first to host this event here.

3. The easy answer is "as many people as we can get", haha. That said, as this seeks to take a systemic approach to identifying solutions and then taking them to scale, we would need representatives from each "player" in the space: funders, government bodies, researchers, architects, sewage experts, community engagement specialists, behavior change organizations, etc. As the sanitation crisis is so complex, and addressing only one (or a few) pieces of the puzzle is insufficient, we would ideally have representatives from all stakeholders to collectively ideate and design scalable solutions.

4. Funding is something we don't yet have a handle on, as it would be a function of the location, the ability to cover (or at least contribute towards) participants travel, necessary documentation, and a slew of other considerations. My colleagues at Forum for the Future are working on this aspect of the initiative and are better positioned to speak to this.

5. This is the first time that I and my team are engaging with Forum on an ideation lab, so I am not in a position to speak towards their work. However, more information can be found on their site ( www.forumforthefuture.org/our-work ).


Hope that helps!

Kevin
Kevin Shane
Communications Lead - Quicksand
Delhi, India
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Quicksand.co.in
ProjectSammaan.com
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