Portable toilets are tested in the slums

During June and July two different types of individual toilet, which were supplied by 3S Shramik, were tested in Khulewadi (29th June 2013) and Rajiv Gandhi Nagar (9th July 2013) as part of the city-wide slum sanitation project.  The two models were: (1) a polyethylene toilet and (2) a fibre reinforced plastic toilet (FRP).  The tests were conducted in relation to this project as both toilet types are one homogenous unit which can be delivered to site as one complete piece which would have obvious advantages for a project where 1,500 individual toilets are bing provided in pilot slums in each of the 15 administrative wards of the city over the next three years (2014, 2015 and 2016).

The tests showed that both systems can be installed within 6 hours, including the connection to the municipal drainage system and the necessary alterations to the slum huts to provide space to accommodate the toilet.  The main issue which arose with these types of toilet were associated with the ventilation of the space inside the toilet.  Revised designs are being worked out by Shelter Associates and 3S Shramik for another phase of tests.

Mobile App slum data entry trials begin

On 16th August 2013 Shelter Associates commence trials of the Shelter Associates survey mobile application.  Shelter Associates community workers took a tablet computer into the slums and tested the system of uploading slum data direct to the Shelter Associates on-line data collection system.

Shelter Associates have created city profiles for Pune and Sangli & Miraj which are hosted on the Shelter Associates website and are maintaned and updated by Shelter Associates on a regular basis.  Each city profile contains information for all slums within the municipal area including: the land ownership, development plan reservations, development plan zoning proposals, approximate area, population, location, topography, in addition to detailed data regarding services such as toilets, water, solid waste management, drainage and roads and access.  The information is freely available for everyone including city administrations.

To support the on-line city profiles, the NGO has developed an on-line survey system where all collected data can be input, and recently Shelter Associates has developed a mobile application which allows data to be uploaded to the on-line survey system by a surveyor with a smart phone in a slum, ward office, or any other location.

Gulbarga visit

On 8th August 2013 Shelter Associates sent a team to Gulbarga in Karnataka to review a sanitation project currently underway by the Green Sanitation Foundation (GSF).  The GSF toilet system in Gulbarga uses enzymes and nutrients to accelerate the natural process of bacterial decomposition to reduces human excrement and urine into low grade water that can be output into the ground soil or into surface water drainage systems.

This project is of interest to Shelter Associates due to the potential of its application in situations where drainage connections are not available, such as peri-urban environments (Sangli & Miraj) and slums and informal settlements in urban areas which are not connected to the municipal drainage system (Cham Cham Nagar in Pune).

Ultimately the Shelter Associates team could not determine if the technology was working as the project had only been running for 2 months and it takes at least 3 months for the faeces and urine to be decomposed to water, disinfected, and emitted from the 300 litre tank beneath the toilet.


Precast concrete toilet trials in Khulewadi

On 25th May 2013 three precast individual toilets were installed by Larsen & Toubro in Khulewadi, Pune.  As part of the city-wide slum sanitation project Shelter Associates have been exploring technologies which could be beneficial to the installation of the 1,500 individual toilets required by the project.  Shelter Associates met with Larsen & Toubro at their office in Andheri East (Mumbai) to discuss the design of an individual toilet which would be made out of precast concrete.  Following this meeting Shelter Associates were invited by Larson & Toubro to visit their precast concrete factory in Khopoli (approximately half way between Pune and Mumbai) to inspect the prototype prior to on-site trials.

Three precast concrete individual toilets were then installed in Khulewadi and the following issues were observed: (1) the structure is designed to a very high specification and therefore is almost twice the cost of the current brick and mortar solution.  (2) The units were not easy to install as the base was cast as one piece which was 1m2 and very heavy to lift.  (3) The precast individual toilets cannot be wheeled through narrow lanes which is a major drawback as the majority of the lanes in slums are narrow therefore this design would only be applicable in a minority of situations.

Waste collection starts at Khulewadi

During a focus group discussion on 24th June 2013, with senior women in the Khulewadi community, it was decided that a ghanta ghadi solid waste collection system would start at the beginning of July 2013.  The ghanta ghadi solid waste collection system commenced on 1st July 2013.

The service is provided at a cost of 30 rupees per family per month and allows the slum families to hand their household waste to a person who walks through the slum with a ghanta ghadi (trolley or small vehicle).  The effectively means that the slum dwellers of Khulewadi are paying to getting access to a service which is available (at the same cost) to all other citizens of the city and it also means that less waste will be deposited on the open land which surrounds the community on three sides.

To complement this waste collection service bins were handed out on the 27th July 2013.  Each family received two receptacles so that they can segregate their ‘wet’ household waste from their ‘dry’ household waste; that is to say their biodegradable waste from their non-biodegradable waste.

Focus Group Discussions are added to the model

Shelter Associates understand that community participation is an essential component of inclusive planning.  It has been observed by the NGO that without effective community involvement, support and understanding projects fail to achieve tangible long-lasting change and ultimately fail in their objective of slum rehabilitation.  This is why Shelter Associates invest a significant amount of time and energy into establishing and nurturing effective working relationships with all stakeholders of their projects, especially the slum dwellers who are after all the end users of the designs and occupiers and caretakers of the projects.  These relationships are the unseen element of Shelter Associates projects; they are the ‘software’ components which support the ‘hardware’ interventions, such as new housing, new individual toilets and solid waste collection schemes.  Workshops are integral to the software component of the project and have now been expanded in scope to include FGDs.

The FGDs are informal gatherings of small groups of people who are of the same gender and approximate age.  This format not only allows for issues specific to that demographic to be discussed but, due to the informal and intimate nature of the gathering, it also means that more sensitive topics can be discussed; questions, statements and admissions that would not normally be said in a large formal meeting with all members of the community are freely relayed and discussed sensitively and compassionately with Shelter Associates social workers.  These sessions provide insight into the behaviour of people who live without access to toilets and allows Shelter Associates to ascertain the communities current experience, awareness and understanding of the issues of open defecation including the associated issues of sexual harassment, menstrual health, nutrition, violent assault and gender insensitivity.

Bangladesh slum project

On 26th June 2013 Shelter Associates attended a conference in Dhaka, which was sponsored by the World Bank and hosted by the National Housing Authority (NHA) of Bangladesh, to share their experiences of community participation in relation to the implemetation of slum rehabilitation schemes.

Prior to this event on the 25th June Shelter Associate met with members from two slum communities outside of Dhaka and discussed: (1) the arrangement of their current plot/home, (2) their family size and individual family members, (3) the family’s way-of-life, (4) their typical activities across one day, and (5) their aspirations.  After this introduction to the slum communities Shelter Associates reviewed the designs that the community had worked out with the NHA engineers during a previous session, a few minor changes where recommended and accepted by the community members.   Shelter Associates then helped the community to revise their presentation models so that they could explain their designs as part of the conference on the following day (26th June 2013).

During the conference Shelter Associates played their short film ‘Shelter Associates: inclusive approach to urban planning’ which advocates the inclusion of the slum community in all slum rehabilitation schemes as part of sensitive planning, meaning planning which is considerate and recognises slum dwellers umong the stakeholders in the project’s generation, implementation and maintenance.

A community member’s sketch of her plot of land and the cluster of buildings which she and her family occupy.  The toilet (T), kitchen (K) and water tap are all located in a long thin area at the rear of her plot (at the top of the sketch).