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Jack Pot

Its simple. Indians love return offers/ incentives, thus we pay them for using toilets. This will encourage them to use toilets.

Photo of Sahil Somani

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As statistics show India ranks first when it comes to sanitation problems. People in rural India do not prefer building toilets in their homes as they have a temple inside and they believe that where there is a temple one must not defecate. Thus one option is to build toilets in their back yard. The problem here is that the drainage system in the country is not that well built and is redone every year as the population of a particular area grows.

*Please note the research has not been put in text but has been put in the PDF attached. This is just the explanation of the concept.*

Another option is to build common toilets. The problem here is that since they have never used toilets  before in their life they do not know how to maintain it. Shulab Shauch is an initiative to provide public toilets in the country by taking an amount of 2-5 rupees for the maintenance of the toilet. Sadly the money is taken but the toilets are not maintained people in charge or by the municipality as they don't feel the need to re do toilets.

If the people are given incentives for using the toilet and keeping the toilets clean then they will probably turn towards using the toilets provided more often.   Incentives can be money/ food or medication. Money would be risky as the husbands may use it for their daily alcohol but if the responsibility is given to women they can deposit it immediately at a table next to the one where they received the money. This saved money can be used for their children's higher education, marriage, building personal toilets, etc. 

Indians love incentives, cash back offers and discounts.

 'Bohni' is a social and commercial custom of India and Pakistan that is based on the belief that the first sale of a day (or other selling period) establishes the seller's luck for subsequent transactions during the remainder of the day.

People prefer starting their day by taking a dump, thus if pooping can earn them money not only they but their children will also be sent to use the toilet. 

Rs 2-5 may sound like a very small amount to us but in the areas where this is a problem there is also the problem of population explosion, thus if a family has 5 people living in it and if each one of them gets Rs 2 each that makes it Rs 10 per day which makes it Rs 300 a month which is a big amount for them.

People in those regions send their children to school because the children get their lunch from school and thus the burden to arranging one meal of the day for the child gets off their head. Instead of money we can even give them a meal, like breakfast which is high in nutrition thus the poop that's coming back to us is rich and can be used to make good quality manure.

Now the question is how to make money to give them money. ' Its Simple.' Take their poop, convert it to manure, natural gas and electricity.  Revenue generated will increase with increased production of manure. The sewage from the municipality can also be taken not bought for this purpose. This electricity and natural gas can be used to power the digesters and plant. The manure can be sold to the tear one cities as a strategy to promote 'urban farming' and as well as 'organic farming'  or farmers who cultivate organically grown products for a the upper middle and the upper class audience. The price of organically farmed products is slightly higher then the regular fruits and vegetables that we eat. These can either be sold to the so called ' first world' countries or the tier one cities of India as a practice for growing your own crop, fruits and vegetables at an individual level and generate a high revenue. 

There is another problem here. The husbands may take away the money from everyone to buy alcohol for himself for the night thus we can keep a bank service adjoining this system where people can choose to save this money for something else or save this money for themselves for making toilets.

Waste management here is another problem and if we buy the waste plastic, glass and paper that is generated  in these areas we can teach them the process of waste management, segregation and disposal.

So basically, Its as simple as that. I have an idea, need to work on making it happen through prototyping and on field experiments. I have been waiting for such an opportunity for the last 4 years but never was heard by a lot. 

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

  • Ready for piloting

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

I do not have much knowledge about this in numbers. This is where I need your help in making it happen. I really think this idea can change the way India functions on an ecological industrial level. It can create a lot of job opportunities in various fields in the rural regions as well as in the urban sector.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

It will not generate revenue in the first go. The minute the digester gives a signal saying that the container is filled with abundant manure and natural gas this system is ready to take on the market. Till then the urban section need to start getting into a habit of cultivating on a household level. This can be achieved by teaching farming in schools, hospitals, colleges, jails, rehab centers, etc.

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

It would be best if the 'Gates Foundation' gives this project what it needs. Another approach is where all the big Indian brands want to tap into the rural sector. Thus if the Tatas, Ambanis, Adanis ect want to capture the rural market this is a good way to start.

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

If other organisations are taken up as a partner, from their side I would expect financial aid, understanding the market in numbers, engineering of new technologies to make this cheaper and efficient. I am personally a designer thus I will head this project on the design front where it comes to interaction with people with the service, product, communication and business design

In-country experience

  • Not yet

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

I am a designer who just graduated a day back from MIT Institute of Design -Pune. Thus for the last four years I have been researching, talking to people and finding pivot points for going about this problem.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • No

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

I would wan to start with Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh and then go ahead with other states.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am not that passionate about water or sanitation in India. I am passionate about solving problems that are holding India back from excelling. People always look down at this country and feel we still are a land of Maharajas and snake charmers, which we are not. Gotta change that. I am passionate about bringing a social change by innovation and teaching design thinking to the whole of the country.

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Photo of James

This is a very unique idea. Some questions that arise are the start-up investments that will need to be made to create the system you plan on implementing. Along with this, all the facilities that will process/package/ship/generate/etc these utilities or items, are they already established? Because if they are not established, business will need to be created to help with your system. With this aspect, you could try to influence entrepreneurs to create this businesses. They could also help establish an economic model that would help step-by-step establish all the building blocks for your system. Do you think any issues will arise with taking the money management away from the husbands/men? The cultural roots may cause some issues with this and I wonder if there are any solutions for this (I do agree that it should be in an account where both husband/wife have equal say/share in it). 

Influencing cleanliness with money could cascade out of control, and if not properly managed, could possibly be misused. Maybe by figuring out another incentive that will help influence habitual cleanliness will be a better alternative. At any time, if the system you proposed were to crash, it would be a rough recovery back to where the ideal operation would be. It's a good start on an idea, but maybe could be changed a little bit to not involve direct incentives for sanitation. Try creating incentives for the creation of sanitation systems that give the community more options. With more options for sanitation, I personally think, it will be easier for sanitation to become habitual. 

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