Having an independent accessible address means so much more than just having a place of living. As per 2014 World Bank Data, 24% families in India live in slums who are often packed into overcrowded homes and cramped living conditions. They either don’t have an address or have one that does not identify their house or business location accurately. Therefore, for basic facilities and emergency services to reach their doorsteps, a navigable location address is a must in the present digital era and this is where Shelter Associates has partnered with Google and UNICEF to bring this unique and powerful solution known as Plus Codes to the have-nots of the city.
Plus Codes use latitude and longitude to produce a short, easy-to-share alpha-numeric digital address that can represent any location on earth. Whether you want to open a bank account, secure confidential letters or simply order food online, all you have to do is enter your unique Plus Code on google maps and get navigated to your doorsteps. Number plates with the plus code can be fixed on the doors of individual huts for ready reference of the unique address. Plus Codes also directs individuals or service providers to the nearest amenities such as water standposts, electrical posts, community Toilets, manholes, etc.
Shelter Associates strategises its preliminary Plus Code project in the slum settlements of Pune, Thane, Kolhapur and Navi Mumbai.
Slum dwellers receive an independent identity through this addressing solution for easy accessibility of services such as water, sanitation, healthcare, electricity, opening bank accounts, postal services, etc further saving time and guiding service providers to reach individual doorsteps. Also, emergency services such as Fire, Ambulance and Police can find them during an emergency.
The slum communities are also mobilised by Shelter Associates’ community workers through awareness workshops and personal meetings to understand the concept of plus codes and use it to their advantage. Large slum maps displaying household and infrastructure plus codes are also been installed in the slums for easy accessibility.
The plus code project is not limited to communities only but has also been playing an instrumental role for effective e-governance. Lack of granular data has always hampered governments from reaching out to the vulnerable families but through this initiative, the Urban Local Bodies will link this new data to their existing data through which they can access and update more precisely. They will be able to spatially pinpoint and analyze their database and use the same for effective and efficient service delivery which is also beneficial during Pandemics for facilitating the provision of emergency and essential services. Humanitarian groups, NGOs and Urban Local Bodies can easily find people needing basic aid along with tracking and monitoring programs related to health, education, etc.
Refer to the Plus Code Film for more information on Plus codes and its impact
Shelter Associates (SA), a Civil Society Organization founded in 1993, comprising architects, GIS experts, social workers, community workers and volunteers have carried extensive work in areas of cost-effective housing, basic infrastructural facilities, health, hygiene and sanitation while inspiring behavioural change in the slum dwellers. We work towards empowering communities living in informal settlements to pursue their right to dignity and sustainable life.
In this article, we talk about our approach of moving from Paper based field data collection to Kobo Toolbox, and then finally to Avni. We share some lessons learnt and explain the advantages we see of an offline-based Android app for form data capture.
One of the organisation’s core competencies lies in its data-driven approach. We follow a rigorous process of collecting data through surveys and mapping efforts. The slum data collected by the team is spatially organised using GIS software and presented as an overlay on Google Earth remote sensing imagery. The collated data is used for inclusive urban planning and implementing affordable housing and sanitation schemes across the slums in Maharashtra. You can see live dashboards on our website. Our data-driven approach using technology to plan citywide strategies for social housing has impacted the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) policy of GOI.
In 2013 we undertook a landmark project ‘One Home One Toilet’ to deliver household toilets on a cost-sharing basis. The data-driven initiative follows a community-centric and an inclusive approach wherein it works closely with the municipal corporations right from validating data to toilet delivery. As of September 2020, SA has surveyed around 2,93,000 households for successful implementation of OHOT. It has impacted over 3,70,000 people directly & indirectly with a home toilet.
From Paper-based system to a digital system using KoboToolbox
In the early years of implementing various schemes, be it affordable housing or delivery of sanitation, data was collected through pen-paper surveys. Over the years we have shifted to other, more technological driven means of data collection. In 2016, we shifted our collection system to the Android-based open-source platform of KoBoToolbox. Kobo is one of the most popular data collection tools in development sector. It provides an offline mobile app for data collection, a web app for designing forms and an option to extract collected data for further analysis.
Moving to Kobo certainly was a good step forward but we soon started facing limitations with it.
Limitations with KoboToolbox
1. Lack of ability to view and update records from the mobile app
KoboCollect does not support offline editing of records once submitted. It requires internet and is too complex as described in this link. Lack of any alternative for modifications forced us to survey the households repeatedly where data needed to be updated. With the increasing scale of interventions in different slums across cities, this was not a viable solution for long.
2. Form-based data model as against Case-based
If we have to submit 50 responses for a slum, same slum name is to be entered 50 times. This slows down the work. Moreover, there was no way to validate to ensure the name entered is correct. Ideally, we would want a way to be able to pick from an available list or a dropdown. There are workarounds but no native case management support in KoboToolbox.
While exploring solutions for these problems we came across the Avni application in a workshop organised by Tech4Dev platform in Pune. This open-source platform, with a rich data modelling approach, an offline app for data recording, web app for admin & form designing and different options to extract data, promised to solve the problems we were facing.
Initially, we started with the city of Kolhapur as a pilot. We first migrated our data from Kobo to Avni which turned out to be simple. Kobo provides a way to export data in excel and Avni provides a way to upload/import using CSV files. After importing the existing data, we soon initiated the data collection using Avni. To carry out the modifications accurately we trained our surveyors to use the application, fill in different types of forms and update any filled in data as per the required changes. The users found it easy and the pilot worked out really well. Thus we decided to adopt Avni for all our work and started using it for the Pune region as well.
Benefits of moving to Avni from Kobo Collect
Below are the key differences and benefits we are noticing of using Avni over Kobo. We are listing these down for the benefit of those considering both these options for field work.
1. Ability to design a custom app using locations, subject, programs and forms from Avni data model
The most important difference between the two softwares is that Avni provided us with the ability to create app as per our data model and data collection process. We created our location hierarchy of City, Ward and Slums using locations; households are created as subjects and separate forms for different vertical services like property tax, solid waste management, metered water connection, etc.
This provided us with 2 benefits
a. Avoid repetitive data collection
We register the household once and whenever a new service is provided, we record a new form by choosing an already registered household. This was not possible in Kobo and saves time and is very convenient to get real-time data.
b. Well modelled and segregated data enabling easy access to a subset of the entire data of a particular house
In the near future, household-level data collected can be shared and accessed with various departments of the Municipal Corporation to ensure work is carried out effectively. Data for sanitation, property tax, solid waste management, metered water connection, etc. once shared to the Municipal Corporation can be accessed for service delivery. For example, once a particular service like a metered water connection is provided to a household, the filled-in data can be retrieved and updated from a shared water connection to a metered water connection. As we collect and share data on different sectors, we can disintegrate it as per requirement and send it across various departments of the Municipal Corporation to link and use the collected data simultaneously. Once services are delivered the household data will be updated by our surveyors or the Municipal Corporation (if shared/access provided) and used further for monitoring tax collection, solid waste management, etc.
2. Ability to search, view and update records anytime in the mobile app
As described earlier, in Kobo Collect once the data is submitted it is not possible to view and edit them. In Avni, the records always stay in the device even after submitting to the server. They can be modified and synchronized again with the server. This is really helpful in the field!
3. Ability to control access of data to surveyors based on their work areas
Another useful feature is the assignment of the catchment. The administrator can give access or remove access of any particular catchment to any surveyor. This has enabled us to maintain the privacy of the information as well.
4. Hassle free modification of forms
Avni supported easy modification of app design including forms without having to redeploy or losing data. This customized, editable solution for data collection has made our work effective and greatly reduced the efforts to maintain updated household-level data.
Smita Kale, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Shelter Associates, shares about their journey of moving from Paper based data collection to digital systems, first using Kobo Toolbox and then to Avni.
Article published at https://avniproject.org/blog/shelter-journey-remoulding-data-collection-paper-kobotoolbox-avni/
Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission during health care. Hand hygiene is therefore the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent health care-associated infections – World Health Organisation
COVID19 is rampant worldwide , and the disease declared as a pandemic has played havoc across nations. We can stay away from it if everyone undertakes safe practices to prevent this disease. Being a contagious one, it can be transmitted by touch. Just like during an illness, though we take various medicines and remedies for it; the root of many of the diseases that afflict us is in our unclean hands.
Shelter Associates, an NGO based in Pune has been working actively in the informal settlements of Maharashtra to transform the lives of the urban poor through the provision of sanitation and hygiene since 1994. Realizing the need to provide relief during the World’s worst hit pandemic and ensuring the well-being of communities during this time, Shelter Associates have been partnering with global organisations to work towards a universal goal of a COVID free nation.
COMMUNITY MOBILISATION AROUND HAND WASHING
The objective of all of SA initiatives is not only to implement projects but to realise tangible positive change in the quality of the lives of the most vulnerable citizens. Mobilising communities has been one of the greatest strengths of Shelter Associates. Carefully strategised data driven planning helps us to have contextualised, meaningful discussions with slum residents through various awareness activities with women, children, adolescent girls, boys and men to bring about a behavioural change and thus develop good habits. In recent times, hand washing has gained greater significance and to inculcate that habit, SA conducts hand washing activities through hand wash demonstration songs and informal games such as snake & ladder and maze activity customised to impart knowledge on COVID19 and hand washing. Spatial maps are developed by SA to help community volunteers organise mobilisation and engage communities from different slum pockets.
DISTRIBUTION OF 5 LAKH SOAPS TO FRONTLINE WORKERS
Shelter Associates has been working with UNICEF India since August 2020 to facilitate its ‘Flush the Virus’ program in selected COVID19 affected slums of Pune, Thane and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, India. The partnership involves installation of pedal operated hand wash stations near community toilets in slums, awareness on safe use of community facilities, encouraging the use of household Toilets, mobilizing communities on COVID19 prevention & 100% mask use.
Shelter Associates has further joined the cause with UNICEF in providing support to selected slums and municipal corporations of Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel and Kolhapur to combat the pandemic around WASH by inculcating the habit of handwashing.
With support from Hindustan Unilever Ltd., 5 lakh Moti soaps have been distributed to COVID warriors including front line workers, ragpickers, sanitary and healthcare workers and slum households where there was a high prevalence of the pandemic.
This will definitely be both a public awareness and health protection initiative for the cleaning staff and the slum dwellers who are working as sanitation envoys. Therefore, I truly thank Hindustan Lever, UNICEF and Shelter Associates, says Sudhakar Deshmukh, Panvel Municipal Commissioner.
GLOBAL HAND WASH DAY 2020
October 15 is celebrated around the world as ‘World Handwashing Day’ to raise awareness about hand hygiene. Shelter Associates, UNICEF and various Municipal Corporations have jointly celebrated the day in the informal settlements of Maharashtra.
Municipal Corporations have jointly celebrated the day in the informal settlements of Maharashtra. The slum settlements of 4 cities of Maharashtra namely Laxmi nagar, Vadarwadi and Ambedkar nagar in Pune; Chinchpada in Navi Mumbai; Lokmanya nagar in Thane; and Kanan Nagar in Kolhapur were selected to conduct various awareness activities around the Global Hand Wash Day. A week-long celebration was underway in these settlements from 12th to 16th October 2020
Based on the Global Hand washing Theme, various competitions organized were:
Poster making competition
Slogan writing competition
Video making competition
Poem writing competition
Live hand wash demonstrations
The program in different slums were visited by the respective Municipal Corporation officials, sanitary officers along with Shelter Associates representatives. Over 2000 individuals were impacted directly and indirectly through the Global Hand wash Week celebration.
Clean hands are essential to health, whether in an emergency or day-to-day life. The importance of hand washing has been further elevated by the fact that COVID19 has spread all over the country. Therefore to protect our communities and provide relief to these COVID warriors and vulnerable slum families, Shelter Associates encourages good hand washing habits through awareness campaigns, live demonstrations, competitions and soap distribution.
Pratima Joshi reflects on the work of Shelter Associates during the COVID-19 pandemic the vulnerability of slum settlements
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our worlds upside down. The most adverse effect is seen on the well-being of the weaker sections of the society residing in the informal settlements. The present condition demands a major focus on health and hygiene, as there are innumerable slum families who still have issues accessing safe sanitation.
Shelter Associates, an NGO providing sanitation and housing for the urban slums of Maharashtra, has facilitated over 20,000 individual household toilets to the slum communities and continues its efforts even in the pandemic situation.
While the present focus is inevitably on health and sanitation, Pune’s densely populated Laxmi Nagar slum in the Kothrud neighborhood has emerged as the newest COVID-19 hotspot due to inadequate space for social distancing and lack of proper clean toilets.
The slum houses 1,087 families, primarily serving as construction workers and housemaids. Based on the previous slum data generated by Shelter Associates in 2018, 43 percent of families had no individual toilets and were dependent entirely on community toilets, which meant that for each toilet block, 40 people were using it. On the flip side, 57 percent of families had their own toilets, out of which 55 percent were unusable due to insufficient and poorly maintained drainage lines*. In such a scenario, there was huge pressure on the community toilets, which were overused and poorly maintained, which posed a health threat to the inhabitants using them.
Swati Vairage, a resident of Laxmi Nagar, whose two young children have survived the COVID-19 virus, feels the dire need for an individual household toilet. “I don’t want me or my children to go out to the community toilet again,” says Swati.
Responding to the grief of Swati and many others at Laxmi Nagar, Shelter Associates has initiated its “One Home One Toilet” cost-sharing model. It provides people toilet construction materials free of cost at their doorstep with the beneficiary families investing in its construction.
The Pune Municipal Corporation’s lack of funds for laying additional drainage lines or clearing the existing lines did not diminish the hopes of the residents who decided to work proactively to improvise the situation. They voluntarily invested in laying an additional 40ft drainage pipeline and contributed money toward getting the drainage lines cleaned with a collective motto to get their home toilets ready for use and make provisions for those who are yet to build one.
Local resident Balu Dandekar has been instrumental in easing the entire implementation process: from identifying families that need individual toilets to liaising with the urban local bodies and police to get permission to enter the containment zone. His influence and active cooperation at every step enabled Shelter Associates to continue its efforts and also build a good rapport with the residents.
To date, over 102 individual household toilets have been facilitated at Laxmi Nagar, while many more await material distribution. Laxmi Nagar sets an example to all other slum communities as we see a positive change through the willingness of the community and the involved NGO whose joint efforts facilitated a cleaner and safer living amidst the most traumatic situation prevailing around. More so, we see a behavioral change among people who now recognize the importance and are demanding a household toilet as opposed to the age-old notion of defecating away from their homes. Shelter Associates hope to improve the sanitation situation of the residents of Laxmi Nagar and all other communities who are already living in extreme conditions waiting for help to reach their doorsteps.
*Data derived through Rapid Household Survey conducted by Shelter Associates
One of the major concerns of the Covid19 pandemic is the emerging hotspots in slum areas of big cities. As the deadly virus is spreading at an alarming speed in the state of Maharashtra, it can spread very rapidly in the low-income, high density settlements having low disease immunity and inadequate medical facilities. These settlements form an integral and important part of the city’s economy and a breakout of the pandemic in these communities will have a cascading effect which can lead to its spread at all strata of society. Lack of granular data on slums hamper governments from systematic monitoring and tracking the spread of this virus and then fighting and mitigating this pandemic. It is now even more necessary that we have a good tracking mechanism in place when it comes to individual households in slums.
Shelter Associates (SA), an NGO based in Pune who actively works on Sanitation and Housing for the urban slums of Maharashtra, with a recent milestone achievement of facilitation of over 20,000 individual household toilets for the slum families; has invested in creating spatial data on slums of 7 cities of Maharashtra in the last 2 decades and made mapping of slum data a vital component of its work. SA has demonstrated how this data can become an excellent planning tool to effectively deliver essential services like water, sanitation, housing etc. Through the medium of GIS mapping, infrastructural mapping and individual household surveys, Shelter Associates has created a strong database of slum communities and families and has now proved to be a boon in facilitating various relief campaigns helping the vulnerable families during the Covid19 outbreak. The data is also shared with the various Municipal Corporations of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Kolhapur, Thane, Navi-Mumbai and Panvel who can use our granular data as an excellent planning tool to effectively deliver essential services. In addition to that, the concerned Government authorities can identify the households with Corona positive patients and as an immediate step can create a buffer of families around that house who will need to be screened. “Through the data and slum maps generated by Shelter Associates, it has become very easy for us to identify and track the slum families at this crucial hour”, says Mr. Nilkanth Dhondiram Poman, Chief IT Officer, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
As a direct relief, Shelter Associates plans and conducts community outreach through telephonic campaigns to create awareness within the slum communities in not only educating the people on Covid19 and its prevention, but also busting the various myths and misconceptions surrounding the virus. The callers are also made aware of Emergency helpline numbers where they can easily reach out for help. Moreover, through a comprehensive analysis of the slum data, Shelter Associates has identified vulnerable slum communities in Maharashtra and have extended support through the distribution of Hygiene kits and Essential Food Grains. With the support of external funders, SA has strategically distributed hygiene kits comprising sanitizer, face masks, soaps and phenyl to 750 slum families in Pune, 850 families in Kolhapur, 550 families in Panvel and 150 cleanliness workers and policemen in Thane. At the same time, SA distributed food grains to 430 families in Pune and 20 families in Miraj. For that, SA has identified and trained volunteers from the community who work tirelessly along with the SA team to provide relief to the communities. It is an ongoing effort and till date, over 11800 individuals are facilitated with the Hygiene items and Food grains in selected slums of Pune, Kolhapur, Thane, Panvel and Miraj, Maharashtra.
“Shelter Associates has been helping poor people like us even during this corona crisis. The materials such as masks, soaps, phenyl provided to us are very useful and essential for maintaining good health and hygiene as the disease will spread very quickly in the settlement”, says Meena Sontakke from Yadav nagar vasti, Kolhapur.
On the whole, spatial data is useful for organizations like governments, businesses, and humanitarian agencies to locate the slum households for the facilitation of services and welfare schemes and to enhance the ability of public and government authorities to plan, manage and develop the service system matrix.
According to UNICEF, 2 billion people across the world still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. Of these, 673 million defecate in the open. Open defecation is a problem because it allows for high-potential of bacteria being transferred through feces leading to large-scale health problems. Moreover, open defecation also inflicts safety concerns on women, causes distress to the elderly and disabled and poses environmental risks.*
Despite several parts of India being declared as open defecation free, hygienic sanitation continues to be a problem in the country. A study conducted in 2018 showed that residents of between 30-70% of urban slums in India in fact did not have access to safe and convenient toilets**
Recognizing the problems posed by open defecation as well as community toilets that have their own set of disadvantages; Shelter Associates (SA), a Pune based NGO providing safe sanitation and affordable housing to the urban poor focuses on facilitating individual household toilets through its data driven, replicable, scalable and multi-stakeholder inclusive ‘One Home One Toilet’ (OHOT) model.
The Local Project Challenge, a collaboration between academic and social organizations, has honored Shelter Associate’s ‘One Home One Toilet’ initiative with the LPC Honour Award 2020 at the U.N.-Habitat World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi.
The World Urban Forum, organized by UN-Habitat, “is the foremost international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on sustainable urbanization. The inclusive nature of the Forum, combined with high-level participation, makes it a unique United Nations conference and the premier international gathering on urban issues”.
The project was presented for the Civil Society category, announced as part of the “Accelerating the SDGs through the Local Project Challenge” seminar. The Local Project Challenge is a partnership between the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at The Earth Institute, Columbia University and the Faculty of Architecture, Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, and builds on the Global Studio and People Building Better Cities programs.
Coming straight from the director of the Local Project Challenge, Dr. Anna Rubbo says “Congratulations on your Local Project Challenge Honor Award. We hope the award helps support your excellent work”
An international panel of judges reviewed the 110 organisations under the categories of Civil Society, Education and Professional and honored Shelter Associates under the Civil Society category. The list of awardees can be viewed here: https://localprojectchallenge.org/awards/
The “One Home One Toilet” project fits in perfectly with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”. OHOT facilitates toilets that are not only well-designed but have also proven to be long-term solutions to the problem of open defecation, thus actively contributing to SDG Goal6.
Why is data and technology important? Is it better to make planned interventions with the presence of updated data? The answer however is a definite YES as more in-depth information is useful for better policy-making or effective service delivery for any government, non-government as well as private organization.
Analyzing gathered data can determine gaps in delivery of services, improve policies and make budgetary provisions while allowing governments to boost their economy faster and in a sustainable manner.
Shelter Associates, a non-profit organisation facilitating improved sanitation and housing for the urban poor of Maharashtra, pioneered the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology & Google Earth for poverty mapping in late 90’s. Holistic spatial data was created by mapping settlement patterns and infrastructure in and around slums. These GIS Maps help ensure that the requisite infrastructure (sewage pipes or septic tanks) and toilets are provided in the right location, keeping in mind topography, road access conditions, family characteristics and neighborhood. The mapping is supplemented with survey data collected at the household level and analyzed to identify the most vulnerable population and plan targeted interventions.
Data experts at Shelter Associates share spatial data knowledge through a workshop with Sanitary Inspectors and Engineers at various Municipal Corporations of cities where the ‘One Home One Toilet’ sanitation model is put to practice.
The main aim of the training workshop is to (a) make the Urban Local Bodies understand the use of data effectively in day-to-day activities (b) minimize potential gaps in service delivery in the fields of sanitation, education, health, etc. (c) train the officials to read and use spatial maps for other service delivery.
Shelter Associates foster strategic partnerships with the Urban Local Bodies in the cities where they operate and as a part of this inclusive approach, the data knowledge is shared within the city municipal corporation who could carry out more micro-level interventions without having to rely on inadequate secondary data. By the end of the training workshop, they can read the maps generated by SA, toggle the different data parameters provided, and get a sense of how to leverage the data for better community development.
Shelter Associates (SA) has been providing housing and sanitation to the urban poor fr over 23 years. Since 2010, individual sanitation has been delivered in a structured and focused manner in vulnerable slums. The process of facilitating household toilets was initiated with extensive data collection and analysis at each stage. The collected data formed the foundation of a pragmatic approach, ensuring feasibility of interventions, as well as an efficient and optimum use of funds. The data collection is carried out with help of the following surveys:
Rapid Infrastructure Mapping – mapping of existing infrastructure of slum
Rapid Infrastructure factsheet – profiling of slum
Rapid Household Surveys – collecting household level data
Individual factsheet – for maintaining record of completed toilets
SA used a web-based application for data entry and creating reports (using collected data) and an android app for data collection of the above mentioned surveys. Data collection is an ongoing process. With the expansion of our operations in new cities, the survey forms and data collection systems need a continuous update. It was possible to modify the existing platform too, but very little. SA and its IT partner Soft-Corner were thus exploring new ways to incorporate the requirement. Meanwhile, Mr. Donald Lobo suggested an open source platform called Kobo Toolbox for defining and deploying surveys and for collecting data.
KoboToolbox, a set of open source software tools, seemed quite suitable for our requirements. Soft-Corner also verified it by running a few tests on it for the same. SA has started its work in a new city recently – Navi Mumbai – where Kobo Toolbox is being used for data collection and entry. We have found it pretty user friendly and time saving while also allowing customization. Our initial experience in using this new tool was very good.
Benefits at a glance Mobile application
The survey can be deployed on mobile devices very easily
The entered data can be edited
The earlier app allowed uploading of responses one at a time. This allows all at one go (or one or multiple by choosing which ones to upload) Web application
A lot of options in the definition of different types of questions – including validation rules and skip patterns, save time on the field and increase the accuracy of the data collected.
Grouping questions enable us to view them on a single page.
Repetition of a set of questions is possible, based on a value (for example – if there are 3 community toilets, then the same set of questions about the community toilets are asked 3 times – once for each community toilet)
Data can be viewed and edited in code or label format
Data downloading in various formats is possible.We can also view and download photos captured using the mobile app
Data analysis is made easier
Here is a wish list of what more we would have liked
1. We cannot add a question to the existing form and if we do, we have to redeploy it and redeployment means losing existing data.
2. As far as our understanding, there is no provision of having long integer data type
Skip patterns cannot be given based on the values of certain options of a question
3. The exported excel needs formatting. (-).
4. There seems to be no provision to auto copy a field from the previous response – like the slum name. If we have to enter 50 responses, each time we have to enter the slum name.)
5. There seems to be no provision for re-edits from the mobile device after uploading the data to the server. This could potentially lead to a problem. For example – if we have uploaded the data of household number 23 (improperly) and at some later date, I enter the correct 23, we cannot edit the previously uploaded data from the mobile device. we have to do it from the web module.
6. When a response is entered on the mobile device for a survey form, it asks for a name by which it would save the response on the mobile device. However, there is no format or validation rule that can be given for this name – which essentially means that each data person collecting the data can give the name of their choice. It would be more organized if we could give a pattern to force the naming in a certain way. Or alternatively, if we can pick some field(s) from the current response (like household number and the status) and show that as the default name to save the response, it would be very convenient.
7. The above mentioned name (by which the response is saved on the mobile device) is not available eventually – both at the back end and in the exported data. Its use is only till we upload the data. If that name is available for the record that could help.
It was a significant moment when 3 women from the Sanjay Park vasahat (colony) from Pune city were felicitated by the Vimaan Nagar Residents Association (VNRA) on this year’ International Women’ day for the extra-ordinary feat of showcasing their presence in a dynamic environment wherein they had contributed immensely in the social sector in the Nagar road ward. VNRA is an organization which takes the note of contribution of women in the society and motivates them by providing them a platform whereupon they can further develop their abilities. It was a wonderful experience for Mrs. Surekha Borkar, Mrs. Nisha Sasane, and Mrs. Yashoda Manjalkar who bagged the prestigious award from their neighborhood community as a token of appreciation.
It was understood that the water supply to the Sanjay Park colony was disconnected in the last week. It took no more than few minutes for Mrs. Borkar to get hold of the stock and then march to the ward office for lodging a formal complaint. Based on her proactive steps, the authorities were forced to appreciate the complaint and restore the water supply within few hours. The quintessential part of this moment was the display of raw but well-controlled courage by the women of Sanjay Park, and hence such actions give justice to the recognition which they received on the special occasion of Women’ day.
It is widely acknowledged that the International Women’ day marks the occasion on which women, all over the world, are respected, appreciated, and loved for their political, economic, and social achievements. However, not limiting to just one day (8th March), it should be held, i.e. celebrated and lived for all 365 days and the invisible patriarchal attitude behind any “unjust felicitations” should be unanimously resisted and such individuals or groups should be immediately dis-empowered.
Blog written by Gaurav, Senior Social worker with Shelter Associates
As a volunteer architect at Shelter Associates, I was interested in observing how the urban poor live in Pune. As part of the “One Home, One Toilet” project, I also wanted to see what impacts the construction of an individual toilet had on small spaces and what percentage of space in a house was dedicated to daily personal hygiene.
In order to determine this impact, I began to measure randomly selected houses: 61 houses from 4 slums in which Shelter Associates is/ has been active – Prem Nagar and Rajiv Gandhi Nagar in Pune, Rajendra Nagar in Kolhapur and Idgah Nagar in Sangli/Miraj – were included in this sample. While taking these measurements, I gathered information about how space in the house was used before the construction of the toilet and how much money the family spent on the construction of the toilet and on other improvements to the house.
From then on, I didn’t go into the field without my tape measure and I always insisted on understanding how space within the home was utilized before and after the construction of the individual toilet.
The houses included in my sample measure, by average, 212 sq ft (19.7 m2) and are occupied by an average of approximately 4.6 people; this means that one person has only 46 sq ft (4.3 m2) at his or her disposal.
Due to limited interior space, I noticed that slum dwellers use the space in front of their doors as the extension of their homes. Indeed, lots of activities take place in the streets, from clothes washing to grain sorting. It is also a place to chat with family members or neighbors and a playground for children.
Most of the households for which Shelter Associates provided material to build an individual toilet had a bathroom in their home prior to construction of their toilet. These bathrooms were used purely as washrooms, while defecation took place in community toilet blocks.
From my investigations, I discovered that before Shelter Associates’ intervention, the bath area measured an average of 15 sq ft (1.4 m2) and occupied 7% of the house; after intervention, the newly-built toilet and bathroom area measured 29 sq ft (2.7 m2) and took up 13.5 % of the house area. Despite the small size of their houses, Shelter beneficiaries were willing to devote more space within their home for an individual toilet.
Moreover, I found that, while the average monthly income of the selected households is Rs. 10,600, the beneficiaries spent an average of Rs. 29,000 on toilet construction and home renovations. This amount of money includes labor charges and extra material needed, like tiles, bricks and cement.
In the settlements I visited, the bathroom was usually a space inside the house defined by a half-length or full-length brick wall. In order to provide additional privacy, metal containers were sometimes stacked on top of half-length walls or a curtain was hung over the door opening. In most cases, the new toilet was an enclosed space – Shelter Associates considers the toilet complete only if it has a door – built at the location of the former bathroom and combining a bath area and a toilet. However, the bathroom space and the toilet could also be located in separate spaces. In fact, toilets have different dimensions and are equipped differently according to each house’s size and layout as well as household’s needs and financial means. That is what makes visiting so many houses in different settlements so fun!
During my field visits, I was struck by how every informal settlement is different depending on its surroundings and its location within the city. Prem Nagar, for instance, is a settlement located in the city center of Pune, squeezed between the Market Yard and housing complexes, and is organized lengthways along access roads. All houses in the settlement are pucca or semi-pucca – houses built of hard material like bricks – and the house improvements resulting from the construction of the toilet were in most cases only inside of the house to be seen.
Rajiv Gandhi Nagar – a settlement located in a peri-urban area alongside the Mula Mutha river – was composed exclusively of kutcha houses – houses built of impermanent material like tin sheets – before Shelter Associates’ intervention. Construction of individual toilets brought major changes to people’s lives, as it provided the impetus for households to rebuild homes using bricks and concrete (pucca) material. These improvements bring additional comfort in everyday life, not only because the household now has access to their own toilet, but also because pucca walls provide greater protection from rain, wind and heat. In some houses, meals were prepared on the floor as the household wasn’t equipped with a kitchen platform. These households took advantage of the construction work to build a kitchen platform. You’ll probably be surprised as well at the outstanding creativity some of the inhabitants showed in the building process!
While most households in Prem Nagar and in Rajiv Gandhi Nagar constructed a single space for both the bathroom and the toilet, in Rajendra Nagar and Idgah Nagar, some households constructed separate spaces. To my surprise, while the bathroom was accessible from the inside of the house, many residents chose to construct access to the toilet exclusively from the outside of the house. It is a choice that might not make sense for some of us, especially considering the pouring rain the area gets during rainy season. Slum dwellers, however, often have hygienic concerns about constructing a toilet inside their homes. Some of them, for example, fear the bad smell that could result in the use of the toilet. In Prem Nagar, some inhabitants told me they were afraid that rodents might crawl out of the toilet pan or that the drainage line might get choked. Some residents also thought that it was unhygienic to eat and cook next to the toilet. The households that were already using their toilet didn’t report any problems, however, and they were happy with the new facility.
In Idgah Nagar, a middle-aged woman said that even though she had constructed a toilet in her house two months earlier, which her children use, she had yet to use the toilet. After defecating in the open for 40 years – the settlement doesn’t have any community toilet blocks – , she had not yet adapted to having a toilet in her home. However, she said that she used the toilet at her work place without problems.
It has been observed that slum dwellers – especially adults – who are used to defecating in the open or using the community toilet blocks, will need up to two months to start using the toilet. That’s why Shelter Associates tries to encourage people to use the toilet by talking about the issue in focused group discussion with the community and by organizing street plays on the topic.
In Idgah Nagar, I heard several other interesting stories. One family explained that construction of the toilet had brought the wife and children back to the house. The wife didn’t want to live with her husband because his house didn’t have a toilet. She came back to her husband’s house with their two children immediately after completion of the toilet. Another family decided to build a brick house equipped with a toilet in place of the bamboo house they had been living in: their son was able to get married because of the nice house they now lived in.
Providing the urban poor with the opportunity to construct an individual toilet isn’t only about improving sanitary conditions in slums; it is also about inspiring residents to make other positive improvements to their lives and their homes! It is about fostering creativity and empowering the urban poor.
If you would like to know more about the “One Home, One Toilet” project, please check out our flyers on the website for more interesting stories.
It only remains for me to thank Reshma, Aishwarya, Pradeep, Dhananjay, Mohan, Noorjahan and Shubah from Shelter Associates for accompanying me in the field and for translating from Marathi to English. Thanks to Moira for proofreading my texts. Finally, I also would like to express my gratitude to the whole Shelter Associates team for their kindness and for giving me the opportunity to do these very interesting investigations.