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Access and Awareness of Affordable Water and Sanitation Solutions

Over 2 decades SSP is working as Key Resource Center for Govt. of Maharashtra in water and sanitation across 8 districts & reached 10000 HH

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Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) through its last mile distribution network of women entrepreneurs seeks to enable low income families in rural Maharashtra to reduce vulnerability to water and other vector borne diseases. The women entrepreneurs/ Sakhis provide awareness on sanitation, personal- menstrual hygiene, behavior change and promote products and services for safe drinking water and safe pre –fabricated toilets in their underserved communities.

Scale can be achieved by leveraging SSP’s model of last mile distribution network of women entrepreneurs (Sakhis). With the community at the core, these Sakhis will be trained and equipped to be the conduits – Clean ambassadors or change agents for the proposed intervention, through a market based approach that generates income for Sakhis. The program seeks to apply a three pronged approach:

Establishing the last mile network of entrepreneurs: The program seeks to create an ecosystem for accessing affordable safe drinking water and sanitation solutions through a well established last mile network of women entrepreneurs. Women from the communities will be identified as potential entrepreneurs and provided with 10 day entrepreneurship education by SSP team. Further, SSP team with support of Sakhi Unique Rural Enterprise (SURE) provides business handholding support to the women entrepreneurs by linking products and services to be delivered at the grassroots level. Sakhis will earn a margin on each product sales that will contribute to sustainability of their role as a Clean Ambassadors and contribute to their socio-economic empowerment within their homes and communities. This encourages women to mobilize more community members, provide awareness and create more demand.

Awareness generation: As Clean Ambassadors (Sakhis), they will generate awareness for improved sanitation – access to toilets, safe drinking water, promote behavior change around sanitation and hygiene practices in the rural communities. SSP aims to end open defecation and generate peer commitments to adopt healthier practices for a clean community. Consultative group dialogues, Gram Sabhas, corner meetings, and door to door awareness are conducted at the community and household level. This will support in creating the latent demand for safe drinking water and sanitation solutions.

Access to affordable water and sanitation solutions: The consultative awareness generation process by Sakhis will be augmented by sales of affordable water and sanitation solutions including individual household toilets, water filters and other hygiene management products. SURE, an associate social enterprise of SSP will support centralized procurement from product developers and link to the women entrepreneurs for rural distribution. Innovative finance schemes through Sakhi Samudaya Kosh (SSK), associate social enterprise of SSP, will support low income community households and address affordability constraints. Women entrepreneurs will ensure door to door delivery, installation, and post-sale support for products.

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

  • Piloting completed

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

Program can be scaled up across 100 villages reaching out to 6000 Households in 1st year. In 2 years, program can outreach 200 villages across 12,000 households. The proposed implementation area areas are Latur, Osmanabad and Solapur districts in Maharashtra. The infrastructure established from the fund can be operated for next 10 years through which we can build 60,000 toilets. With the existing women distribution network and the approach of a market base model will ensure the accessibility of sanitation products in the communities. As SSP is identified as Key Resource Agency, the success of the approach, in line with the Swachh Bharat Mission can be advocated to the Government. The recognized model can be replicated with the support of the government and in partnership with other community based organisations across multiple states in India. SSP team can conduct capacity building programs for partner NGO’s to understand the approach & leverage government funds to scale up.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

1. Enhance capacity of Sakhis or women entrepreneurs as Sanitation Ambassadors. To aware their communities on sanitation – clean and safe environment. After the initial catalytic phase, women entrepreneurs will be provided by advanced training on maximizing business efficiency through business skills training and hand-holding support by SSP 2. Income generating opportunity for women entrepreneurs through sales of sanitation solutions and follow up services This hybrid model of community social awareness and a market based approach requires more support in its initial set –up phase. Once the ecosystem is created, the stakeholders are mapped, the model continues through the revenue earning approach by the Sakhis. 3. SSP team will promote financial inclusion among the women. Encourage women entrepreneurs to form Joint Liability Groups (JLG), to participate actively on maintaining savings, thrift, and social security. SSP team will create the initial infrastructure to manufacture and deliver sanitation solutions at the doorstep & provide fee based services. The team will further support to provide information, link the communities to the available Government schemes as well.

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

1.SSP aims to establish manufacturing unit for precast cement concrete toilets. Financial support is mainly required to set up the units for toilets, moulds, platforms and other machinery items. 2. To develop IEC materials and conduct community awareness programs around the need and importance of improved hygiene, safe water and sanitation for improved health. To launch the Women entrepreneurs in the village and provide visibility to them as Sanitation Ambassadors - capable to provide sanitation solutions and services in their communities. 3. Capacity building trainings for women entrepreneurs or Sakhis. Identify early adopters and mobilizers from the community and recognize them as role models so as to encourage and increase adoption of sanitation and hygiene practices. Further, training of Trainers, marketing and promotion team is also essential. 4. Most importantly, to provide fund as Gap finance/Bridge fund to the community members to initiate & complete toilet installation. Since, subsidy from the government can be applied and received only after the toilet construction is completed. The gap finance is very essential. 5. Finance for Water Sanitation product and Services - Further, SSP aims to provide a bundle of water and sanitation solutions with after sales services. There are few low income beneficiaries who are not eligible for subsidies. Finance support in terms of loans can be provided to these beneficiaries to access the sanitation bundle solutions.

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


In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

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

a. During the year 1996-1998, training of 24,000 PRI members on rehabilitation, community development, water & environmental sanitation was undertaken by SSP team. b. From 2001-2003 SSP was involved in the Capacity Building of Women for Effective Governance supported by UNDP-Govt of India in 300 villages c.we are key resource agency and created model c. SSP is identified as Resource Organization and Knowledge Management unit for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation “Jalswarajya”Project, Govt. of Maharashtra d. In 2004-2005, SSP team participated as one of the key organizations for Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC)/ Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) e. In 2003 Gujarat, carried on Community Managed Development of Water and Sanitation Program across 65 Earthquake affected villages in the region. f. 100 Villages of Osmanabad and Latur were declared as 100% open defecation villages and was also awarded Nirmal Gram Puraskar by Govt. of India due to SSP intervention program

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • Yes

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

Latur, Osmanabad and Solapur districts of Maharashtra will be target area

Tell us a bit about yourself.

a. In India out of 1000 households 594 households do not have access to toilets, similarly in Maharashtra 540 households per 1000 households do not have access to toilets. b. Lack of awareness and access to affordable safe water and sanitation solutions. c. Unavailability of accumulated capital - savings to meet the demand is Over 20 years, working in rural Maharashtra, SSP team has observed increased need for awareness and accessibility of solutions at the most affordable price. SSP therefore focuses on Sakhis - create last mile women network who can address to the underserved households as Sanitation Ambassadors and service providers. Core Team is mainly Executive Director of SSP - Prema Gopalan, Associate Program Director - Upmanyu Patil, District Project Managers - Naseem Shaikh, Tabassum Momin and Sector expert coodinators with over 20 years of experience in rural areas across sectors of Water and Sanitation, Clean Energy, Women Empowerment and Disaster Management.

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

It is a new idea. Due to complete lack of awareness, ignorance and low priority for better health and sanitation in the rural communities . SSP until 2014 emphasized more on educating the community members, creating awareness on sanitation and promoting behaviour change practices across villages. Further, provided training to village masons on building safe and clean toilets in the communities. SSP team realized only when the communities have access to affordable sanitation solutions together with information of better hygiene and healthy practices, the interventions provide effective results. With this, SSP since 2014 has started providing awareness and information together with affordable solutions, all under one we then created a network of women who are at all parts of the value chain as mentioned earlier user educater service proveder connecting govt scemes and subsidy affordable acessible solutions at doorstep.

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

Major challenges or risks identified during the implementation are: 1. Time consuming and tedious task of the beneficiary subsidy application process. The approval of subsidy application can take a longer period than expected. To ensure the subsidy application process is smooth and received on time, MoU can be created with the local government in advance. This will also help in maintaining long term relationship with the government departments. 1. Under the innovative finance schemes, delayed repayment of the loan amount by the beneficiaries can be another risk. To ensure timely repayment, SSP team and Sakhis will have to engage in continuous, regular visits and one -to-one follow up mechanisms. 3. Transportation of heavy and bulky sanitation solutions - mostly prefab toilet materials can be difficult during expansion and scale up. An updated R&D team to explore light weight sanitation solutions & design better transportation mechanization becomes essential.

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

Sakhis and SSP team have developed a customer feedback and tracking form. This can be filled in quarterly through telephone calls to the customers. Further, with fund support, SSP team can also develop a SMS based application, which would be shred with all the customers. Through this simple application, customers and beneficiaries can be monitored, they can provide regular feedback and suggestions.

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

With the $250,000 USD, SSP can directly provide individual pre fab toilets to 15000 Households and awareness on sanitation to over 75000 community members in two years. Since, the funding will also support in establishing 5 toilet manufacturing units, the physical infrastructure is permanently developed. This will easily last for 5 years through which 75,000 more individual toilets can be manufactured and reached out across villages also providing awareness to over 3,75 ,000 community beneficiaries.

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

The funding support of $250,000 USD, will enable SSP to set up 5 manufacturing units- $20,000 each *5 so $100,000 in total. $100,000 will be used in the innovative finance scheme to avail the prefab toilets for the potential beneficiaries. The remaining $50000 will be used for Research and Development for exploring affordable sanitation solutions.

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

Apart from the grant funding, additional fund support for research and technology development will be immensely helpful. At present, the pre -cast cement concrete toilets are quite heavy. We are continuously putting our efforts to explore technology for light weight materials. Quality resource team for research and technology experts will be required to design and develop such solutions. Therefore, fund support will be essential.

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

Yes, we have FCRA


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