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Not just a toilet, an ecosystem to address sanitation issues!

Working with Government & community institution to design & implement sustainable demand driven interventions.

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State of Sanitation in India

Even though the Government of India has been promoting construction of toilets by providing subsidy since decades, the nation is home to more than 597 million people belonging to more than 37 million households (as per WHO-UNICEF report 2014) who defecate out in the open either because they do not have a toilet at home or because they are used to defecating out in the open since decades. Though data is unavailable, many visits to these households and discussions with community also led to the observation that most of these households also lack bathrooms, thereby forcing people to use public sources of water like ponds, rivers etc. for taking bath, washing clothes etc. The negative impact of inadequate sanitary and hygienic practices on health, nutrition, economy and safety, especially on women and adolescent girls, are well known.

Many studies highlight various reasons for non-construction, poor maintenance and low usage of toilets in rural areas. Few of these are delay in sanction process and payment of bills by concerned authorities, non-selection of eligible beneficiaries, lack of running water supply, age-old practice of open defecation without knowledge of impact on quality of life etc.

Women led Community Institution

The SHG movement is growing stronger in India with Government of India supporting the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) with various benefits and entitlements. This provides an opportunity to organize rural masses, especially the women, to lay grounds for strong social movement by involving the community. Our organization, Paul (pronounced as pā'ūla or paaoola), began with the process of making rural development intervention more participatory, people centric and demand driven by organizing rural women to form strong community institutions and empowering them through its interventions for WASH. Paul has been aiming to “Work on developing synergy among Governmental, Non- Governmental agencies and Community to design & implement sustainable demand driven intervention”.

Paul’s Approach

Paul will help promote behavioral changes that can in turn increase adherence to best practices in the family and within the community, and create demand for better uptake of government services for sanitation. Paul will encourage and strengthen federations of SHGs of rural women  to enable them to channelize their collective strength to access information, services and entitlements and build social capital to adopt improved sanitation and hygiene practices and achieve sustainable Open Defecation Free (ODF) status for the Gram Panchayats (GP).

Paul’s Community Intervention Model

Paul will capacitate the Federation to mobilize the entire community by using strategic behaviour change communications to resolute against Open Defecation, take up bulk procurement of materials and construction of new toilets cum bathroom in the entire village and converge with government for constructing community based and community managed water supply. This will also cover toilets which need repair & toilets which got sanctioned in earlier schemes but were not completed. The district administration will be providing advance funds partially to the account of Federation for supporting the construction of toilets. The Federation will establish a WASH committee comprising of atleast 5-7 members from different sections of the community who will handle the funds for procurement and payment. The committee will manage books of account which is open for public scrutiny to ensure transparency. The Federation will also form three sub-committees namely the mobilization/vigilance committee, the Procurement committee and the construction committee comprising of 5-7 community members. These committees will include active individuals like Gram Panchayat and ward leaders, presidents of SHGs and Federation, Anganwadi worker, ASHA worker etc. The Procurement committee will be provided with various technological options to choose from and bring down cost of raw material by bulk procurement. Community based Vigilance Committee will monitor the progress of construction and create peer pressure to ensure usage. The construction committee will review the work of masons and follow up with households for timely construction of quality toilets. The sub-committees will report to the WASH committee and timely update about the progress of entire project in their area. The capacity building of each of these committee and sub-committees will be done by Paul to achieve the said objectives. Paul also aims to work with community and district administration post achieving ODF status to ensure water supply for sustainable sanitation

Paul will design its Behaviour Change and Communication (BCC) strategy based on local situation by adopting locally accepted methods and adding innovation to those. Awareness will be spread using interpersonal and intrapersonal methods like traditional folk art, modern modes of communication, weekly discussion in SHGs etc. Paul also believes that children can act as a strong agent of change; hence, Paul will pilot WASH interventions in schools as a part of its BCC strategy. The children will be engaged in different joyful activities and games centered on WASH themes to make them aware of healthy WASH habits and ensure the uptake of the same. These children will then act as a catalyst in promoting safe WASH practices in their households and the community. The learning from the pilot will then be used for advocacy and fund raising to up scale the WASH in Schools model.

Also, in pilot schools, Paul will approach and orient the teachers on importance of WASH in Schools. Specific activities which involve children in joyful manner will be used to sensitize children and raise awareness. We will also encourage the schools to select 2-3 active children per class to form a “Child Cabinet” and mentor these children as “Sanitation captains” so that they monitor that their batch mates are using toilets and washing hands before and after eating Mid Day Meal and promote peer-to-peer learning of good practices. A list of tentative activities we plan to carry out in schools are as following:

  • Daily pledge/ jingle on WASH for daily morning school assembly in local language
  • Different 4-5 simple WASH theme group games which can be played daily in school
  • Video shows maybe once/ twice a month
  • Formation and orientation of Child Cabinet
  • Rally, soap drives, demonstration, play in community
  • WASH survey by school children
  • Competition among schools who show better performance on WASH
  • Flexes/ paintings on walls near toilets and hand washing stations will require budget.
  • Establishing incinerators in schools having adolescent girls and proving MHM sessions
  • Inviting parents once a month to discuss on WASH issues and raise awareness

In case the school does not have toilets, we will try to with district administration and CSR partners to ensure sanitation facility in schools.

How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Scaling phase

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

Currently, Paul is working in Chigudikhol GP (840 households) of Beguniapada Block, Ganjam district, Odisha, and is ready to scale up in 2other GPs in same district. Paul is also in process of starting the intervention in Uttar Pradesh too with the support of a CSR partner. Paul’s role is more in terms of a facilitator and not as a direct service provider; the model inherently seeks to leverage existing resources and build the strength of the community for enhanced outcomes. Paul is strategically focusing on building women led WASH institution and converge with government to ensure that the community access their entitlements. As per NABARD, there are more than 7.6 million SHGs in India and potential to covering more than 400 million people (, mostly marginalised backward women. Given that other government schemes like NRLM, women led SHG federations are there in entire India, the idea is scalable in any district or state of India.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Working on WASH will result in sustainable behavior changes which will directly lead to better health and nutrition outcomes and increased livelihoods opportunities as demand for sanitary hardware will increase. It will also lead to empowerment of rural community as Paul’s approach is based on principle of community participation. By design it is a self-sustaining model that focuses on community initiative predominantly to promote a behavior change model and ensures accountability. We believe in pumping maximum investment (toilet construction cost) in the local economy and more than 70% of the total cost is going back into local economy. For the same, we are training local masons, brick & ring manufacturer etc.
The model has been carefully designed considering service fees/operational cost to make it scalable and sustainable. The model shall meet its operational cost in multiple ways like funds from district administration, building cost effective sanitary product supply chain, community contribution from members and CSR/foundation funding. The scale of intervention is critical for sustainability and Paul aims to achieve operational sustainability in next six months.

What types of financing would be required for your idea to be successful?

Paul is working with community as well as with the line department and both are contributing in terms of finances. To increase a sense of ownership, the community is encouraged to come together and discuss a minimal amount of contribution, Rs. 500 or more, each household has to make for their toilet. Currently, each household is contributing Rs. 500 to 1000 and labor for digging pits & basement of toilets. The remaining amount for construction of toilet cum bathroom is being provided by the Sanitation cell of Ganjam district, partially in advance, partially after construction and partially after usage. It is to be noted that these toilet cum bathrooms are built within the cost of Rs. 12000 thereby opening an opportunity to utilize the subsidy given by government for constructing sanitary toilets. As the model will be expanding to other GPs, Paul is tapping resources from CSRs to bring advance technology to the villages. Also, as Paul has a two- pronged strategy of focusing on provision of sanitary facilities and behavior change, funds from district administration and CSRs will also be used for BCC and WASH in School activities.

If you are proposing to partner with other organizations, please explain their role and reason for partnership.

Paul's model is to strategically involve the Sanitation cell of District Administration, the federation of SHGs, non-governmental agencies & CSRs to ensure that the community has access to hardware and software components of WASH. Thus, together they can contribute in construction of toilet cum bathroom and provision of water supply. Also, to increase livelihoods by increasing demands for sanitary goods, Paul envisions to partner with organizations in future to provide trainings to masons for construction of toilets and trainings to SHGs or youth groups for construction of goods like cement bricks and cement rings. The Non- Governmental agencies can also contribute in training and supporting active community members to create awareness around sanitation and hygiene and put peer pressure to change the norms of the society by using innovative BCC approaches.

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

If you have been operating in India, what has been your focus?

Paul is currently working in one GP of Odisha and in the phase of starting in 2 more GPs of Odisha and 1 GP of Uttar Pradesh for constructing toilet cum bathroom and ensuring its usage to stop open defecation. Paul has successfully mobilized more than Rs. 6 million from district administration and Rs 0.25 million from community as contribution. GP is housing more than 840 HHs and more than 500 HHs are already a part of the promoted WASH institution. In coming year, Paul has planned to work with 15000 HHs and reach more than 75000 people directly by expanding in other areas.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • Yes

What states or districts will you target/are you targeting within India?

Currently, we are working in Odisha and in preparatory phase to start in Uttar Pradesh.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Paul has been founded by passionate rural development professional who are working in space of community based institution and addressing WASH with them. The team has sound grassroots experience by working with state government like Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Paul is founded with aim to work closely with government and community based institutions to design and develop scalable intervention with support of low-cost technology.

I have over three years of experience with non-profit and government sectors in India. Worked in partnership with various INGO, multilateral agencies to implement community base on WASH projects. Also done freelance project with Corporate CSRs like Arcelor Mittal, FICCI-CSR Center Excellence etc. I have studied masters in Rural Development.

Is this a new or recent idea for your organization? How does it differ from what you are already doing?

The idea is the first and new for our organization but as it has been inspired by the pilot which was conducted in Telangana by Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty under Telangana Rural Inclusive Growth Project by involving the SHG federation. Open defecation is rampant in rural areas as it is a socially accepted phenomenon; through our project we plan to involve the community and make usage of toilet as the “new normal”. While earlier we were only focused on strengthening the community, based on our experience in the pilot GP in Odisha, the idea has been improvised and reformed to include various financial options to ensure sustainability. In the future, we also plan to establish a for-profit arm to encourage community based entrepreneurs and manage the supply chain of material for construction of toilet cum bathrooms.

What are the two or three biggest risks for your idea and how will you manage the risks?

One of the major risks is that we work with extremely vulnerable section of society where families as well as communities have other priorities as they do not realize the importance of sanitation and hygiene. Also sanitation doesn’t have a “one size fits all” solution. Hence, we have carefully designed the project based on discussion with community, thereby ensuring there involvement and approval.
As government subsidy comes after construction of toilets, it is difficult for poor households to construct toilets. We are trying to provide them different financial products for constructing the toilets like fund from district administration, CSRs, GP funds etc.
Maintaining balance between supply & demand of material pose a huge risk. To tackle with this issue, we procure material in bulk as per the number of households who have provided community contribution. We are also planning to promote enterprises for maintaining supply chain by identifying interested SHGs and provide cheap loan

How would you propose to track or record the households or customers reached?

In the initial phase of our discussion with the community, we conduct a baseline survey with the help of Federation to map households without toilets or with dysfunctional toilets. Community based igilance committee updates the list weekly with the households who have new toilets. Also, we will develope mobile-based application to digitalize the entire process. The technology will be used for collection of data, geotagging households and for providing district evidence for verification and funds

If you had two years and $250,000 USD in funding, how many households or customers would you reach?

Paul aims to work in 10 districts in next 2 yr, reaching 4000 HHs per district on an average.
A part of the grant will be used meet the unit cost per household and BCC activities while scaling up ($166500). As there is a risk of delayed transfer of funds from district, grant will also be used as a revolving fund ($50000). This fund will be given to Federation at zero interest to ensure that there is no delay in construction of toilets and will be reimbursed as soon as the district transfers the amount to federation. The same can be used to provide cheap loan and training to entrepreneurs who are interested to establish sanitary marts. We will also pilot WASH interventions in 50 schools ($15500). The remaining part of grant will be used to strengthen our monitoring system and support any innovation we want to try during the two years ($19000). Thus, overall the grant will play crucial role at initial stage and will help in reaching out to 40,000 HHs and around 2,00,000 people directly.

How would you propose to invest $250,000 USD if you received philanthropic/grant funding support from

1. Training to SHGs, youth groups for making cement rings and cement bricks
2. Training to masons for quality construction of toilet cum bathroom
3. Developing WASH based games, IEC material
4. Training to school teachers and child cabinet for monitoring, conducting different activities
5. Bulk procurement of material to bring down cost of construction
Following are being considered under innovation:
1. Developing ICT based monitoring tool for effective implementation of work
2. WASH based Journalism to capture compelling stories of change makers belonging to community
3. WASH advocacy and research

What type of support beyond grant funding are you most interested in?

We are looking for support in linkages with financial institutions, advocacy platform and networking with organizations working on WASH issues for partnering on innovative ideas, learning and sharing knowledge.

Does your organization have Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) approval?

We do not have FCRA approval however, we will be applying for prior permission for FCRA approval . Alternatively, the support from Water.Org grant could be given as service fees to the organization. We are also exploring if there are any other legal ways to receive the grant.
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Team (4)

Kapil's profile
Prerana's profile

Role added on team:

"Prerana Somani currently works as Consultant for UNICEF and provides technical support to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, West Bengal for promoting WASH in Schools. She has almost 5 years of experience in development sector and has worked on WASH, Health and Nutrition projects in SERP, Hyderabad and Charutar Charitable Trust, Anand, Gujarat. She has done Rural Management from IRMA. She has been associated with Paul for BCC and WASH in Schools interventions ."

Shivanshu's profile
Shivanshu Sharma

Role added on team:

"Shivanshu Sharma is currently working with UPSRLM as Mission Executive. He has successfully piloted a WASH layering in a SHG based model in SERP Telangana and played instrumental role in ODF status of 4 villages. He has experience in liaising with different stakeholders like World Bank, RWSS, BMGF and other technical partner to implement the project. He is a Development Management graduate from IIFM Bhopal. In Paul, he has been providing support for Capacity Building on technological aspects."

Dhiren Singh Bagri's profile
Dhiren Singh Bagri

Role added on team:

"Dhiren Singh Bagri has an over three years of work experience. He was an instrumental in implementing NRLM project in Ganjam District Odisha. Having command over field and excellent understanding in promoting community base institutions, he holds a rural development degree from NIRD Hyderabad. He is the consultant for Government linkages and community mobilization in Paul."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thi Bao Ngoc

Hi team,
I'm impressed with the ideas about sustainable behavior changes. And I think this idea would have a significant impact in the long-term as your team also focuses on educating children about sanitation. However, as your team suggests that due to the priorities, it is difficult to make families and communities realize the importance of sanitation and hygiene. So how can your discussion can change the community's mind about sanitation and hygiene (for example, although they know that sanitation is important but they don't have time or they don't want to waste money in hygiene as they feel other things such as their children's education is more important).
Anyway, I really love the idea and wish you and your team all the best!

Photo of Kapil

Nguyễn Ngọc Thank you for showing interest in our work. Our intervention try to address as community where people belong to sub set of early starter to last lag. Since saturation approach adopted, Many family where Sanitation is not in a priority also comes forward to avail benefit, contribute towards WASH institution and invest fraction of money for a sustain financial solution.

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