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B SMart(BWDA – Sanitary Mart pronounced as Be Smart)

Affordable, one stop solution for all WSH needs providing access to multiple WSH technologies and systems.

Photo of Joslin Thambi Chellaiah

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Introduction: Adequate drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene are all essential ingredients to ensure human health. The global sanitation problem requires urgent attention. Basic needs remain unmet, and the human right to water and sanitation remains unrealized for billions of people worldwide. Today, 2.5 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation.The WHO estimates the total global economic loss per annum resulting from poor water supply and sanitation at 260 billion US Dollars. World Bank studies estimate that countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Bangladesh and India, on average lose more than 4% and 6% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), respectively, due to inadequate sanitation. The evidence is clear: poor sanitation and inadequate water supply play a role in keeping countries poor.
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    India is struggling to cope with chronic water shortages and the inadequacies of existing water infrastructure. Unprecedented population growth, and rapid urbanization make the situation worse. Most water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. Drinking water supply and sanitation in India continue to be inadequate, despite longstanding efforts by the various levels of government and communities at improving coverage.India has made progress in the supply of safe water to its people, but gross disparity in coverage exists across the country. Seventy seven million people lack access to safe water, 769 million people lack access to improved sanitation and only 14% of the rural population has access to a latrine.
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  • Program description: Providing WSH infrastructure to the excluded and achieving total sanitation will not be sustained unless a number of key supporting conditions like awareness creation, behavior improvement, facilitation of low cost WSH facilities etc.are met. Access to affordable and appropriate low cost sanitary hardware, supplies and solutions is at the heart of a successful WASH Program.
  • A sanitation system does not solely refer to toilets. Toilets are only one element in an entire sanitation system. Other elements such as collection, transport, treatment, and use of excreta are all together vital for sustainable sanitation. The emphasis given worldwide on the importance of WASH has triggered the development of many innovative and cost effective WSH solutions. From the Ecosans, SulabhShauchalayas, Arborloosto the waterless toilets, urine diversion toilets there has been a paradigm shift in the way products are designed and deployed. Sanitation systemshave evolved to meet the needs of specific geographies, communities, climate, topography, resource constraints etc.
  • In this light, it is also important to understand that the ‘one size fits all’ approach to low cost WSH solutions will not ensure utilization and beneficiary buy in. Efforts should be taken to offer market led, demand driven solutions that meet customer needs and aspirations. For example, a farmer may prefer a composting sanitation solution whereas a slum dweller may opt for a solution that makes optimum use of space. Given the vast array of time tested solutions that are available, the key is to provide access to the most compatible solutions under one roof, educating the beneficiary and empowering the beneficiary to make an informed choice about the type of sanitary system that will meet the his/her needs.
  • ‘BSMart’will be the affordable, one stop solution for all WSH needs providing access to multiple WSH technologies and systems, thereby empowering the beneficiary to make an appropriate, and informed choice. ‘B SMart’ will develop the capacities of masons to deliver sustainable sanitation solutions to their communities, thereby improving the sanitation conditions in villages.‘B SMart’ will provide the counselling and advisory services required to enable the beneficiaries make an informed decision.              
  • BWDA Sanitary Mart will offer all components required for setting up suitable sanitation systems likehardware and designs required for the construction of not only sanitary latrines but also other sanitary facilities, such as soakage and compost pits,vermi-composting, washing platforms, certified domestic water filters and other sanitation & hygiene accessories like low cost ceramic pans and traps, RCC pit covers, pipes and other material required for construction different type of latrines and waste management solutions, as well as readymade cattle trough, food safe, water purifiers and filters, footwear, soaps, nail cutter and other items relating to personal hygiene and home sanitation required  for  individuals,  families  and  the  environment  in  the  rural areas.
  • ‘B SMart’ will also focus on menstrual hygiene of adolescent girls and rural women by facilitating cost effective Community led Sanitary Napkin Vending and Disposal Units in villages. BWDA Sanitary Mart will be a sustainable social enterprise contributing to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by addressing various WSH needs.
  • The BWDA Sanitary Mart will operate in rural and semi-urban areas and facilitate Swachh Bharat Abhiyanby acting as a one-stop outlet, mainly for materials required for the construction of sanitary latrines to avail the subsidy component in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The B SMart Initiative will also facilitate water credit in partnership with banks and other financial institutions wherever required in addition the government subsidies available. The program will also take awareness creation to the next level by focusing on behaviorchange.

Program justification:BWDA has facilitated 19,145 WSH loans to low income households with the capacity support by Five years of experience in educating beneficiaries and changing their mindset to avoid open defecation and use toilets, has highlighted the need for a facilitator who will enable people set up low cost sanitary solutions. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a push to enable people adopt safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices but constraints like lack of behavior change, lack of access to low cost sanitary solutions, lack of access to skilled manpower for setting up WSH facilities, corruption, lack of options to meet actual needs in the one size fits all approachetc. makes it imperative for a program like ‘B SMart’ to be implemented. There is also a huge demand from target beneficiaries for such initiatives and a demand for customizedsolutions.

Operational Model:Some of the key elements for the success of the program are a clear understanding of the target clientele and project areas, wide network of sanitarysystem suppliers, government and PRI linkage, linkage with CSR companies, access to water credit, seamless integration of demand generation and supply, capacity building support etc.

The ‘Campaign’ word in Total Sanitation Campaign designed by Government of India implies that the program has to be implemented in campaign mode which will result in large quantum of demand generation in short period of time. In addition, it also focuses on low-cost technology options for easy affordability at household level even for the poor households. These two requirements of the program call for a mechanism to manage the supply-side in Total Sanitation Campaign/Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. That is why the provision of an alternate delivery mechanism in the form of a network of Production Centres (PCs) and Rural Sanitary Marts (RSMs) was incorporated in Total Sanitation Campaign. Given the fact that the Govt. of India plans to construct 12 crore toilets, there will be a huge demand for supplies and services which will be offered by the ‘B(e) SMart’ Programs’ network.

‘B(e) SMart’ is a commercial venture with a social  objective. The main aim of having a SanitaryMart is to provide materials, services and guidance needed for constructing different types of latrines and other sanitary facilities, which are technologically   and   financially   suitable   to   the   area.  

BWDA Mercantile Pvt. Limited (BMPL) is a credit plus service provider which focuses on delivering products and services to support livelihood development like white goods, fair price consumables and clean energy services. BMPL will partner with proven, affordable sanitation solution providersand establish a centralized production unit for products that have to be manufactured. BMPL will set up Sanitary Marts in the existing service area/ branches of BWDA. BMPL will have a trained and empanelled list of masons/ technicians who under the supervision of BMPL will install the sanitary systems.

BWDA will focus on demand generation, awareness creation, behavior change and liaison with PRI. BWDA will facilitate counseling/ trainingof the beneficiaries whereas technical counseling will be handled by BMPL. BWDA will facilitate water credit directly or through BFL wherever required. Primary focus will be on linking of the government subsidy available for WSH construction to the implementation services provided by BMPL. The income will be shared by BMPL and BWDA.

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

  • Ready for piloting

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

This inventory of ‘B(e) SMart’ will be developed on a need based approach to achieve the Indian government Scheme of Swatch Bharat Abiyan- Clean India in which India needs to eradicate open defecation by constructing 12 crore toilets in India by 2019. BWDA has an existing infrastructure of 36 branches, 30,828 SHGs and over 532,187 members. BWDA’s B-WASH Project facilitated construction of 6780 toilets and 12365 water connections and water credit of INR.17.5 crores. BWDA through its BWASH project has facilitated water credit to only 3.5% of its member base. There is still a huge demand from existing members. The ‘B(e) SMart’ program addresses the gaps and challenges in the existing project and can be easily scaled up. BWDA is targeting 50,000 families through the ‘B(e) SMart’ Program converging with the NBA scheme through local Panchayats by 2019.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Sanitary Mart not only provides the materials required for construction of sanitary latrines and other facilities but also those items, which are required as a part of the sanitation package. The exact composition of the inventory is decided locally at the mart level. It is also important to keep in mind that economies of scale are essential for ensuring sustainability and so it is imperative to choose the most compatible technologies/ sanitation systems for the target clientele to avoid losing economies of scale. In developed countries, the markets for sanitation and hygiene are reaching saturation, fulfilling their basic need. Nevertheless, the sanitation and hygiene sector sustains itself through constant innovation and aggressive marketing. As there is convergence with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Water Credit, the model will be able to generate sufficient revenue to sustain implementation. As it is a paid service, it is viable. Empowering the customer to make informed decisions and enabling behavior change will result in repeat customer who will seek WSH products over and above toilets and water connections.

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

Financial support is required in the following areas: 1. Setting up of central Sanitary Mart/ production unit 2. Construction of model toilets at 4 centers of our Sanitation Mart in each district of operation 3. Infrastructure development of sanitary mart network 4. Purchase of marketing materials 5. Training masons and staff related to sanitary mart 6. Training staff on setting up and establishing sanitary marts 7. Training staff on production of required components 8. Networking and exposure visits BWDA will work with various donors, CSR funders, International NGOs, Government Agencies to source funds for project implementation.

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

1. BWDA Mercantile Pvt Limited - Sanitary Mart Service Provider 2. UNICEF - Support for training and model Sanitary Mart 3. Loan support from Banks and NABARD 4. DRDA – District Rural Development Agency (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) 5. Arghyam for Capacity building support 6. CSR initiatives/ Donors – Capacity and Infrastructure development support 7. BWDA Finance Limited – Water Credit

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

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

BWDA has been in involving in Water & Sanitation program for the past 5 years partnership with for the capacity building support and Habitat for Humanity India, Maanaveeya and other financial institutions for Water Credit. BWDA has reached 19145 families with WatSan product covering 86,152 beneficiaries during the period of 2011-2016 and 161292 beneficiaries through various software activities. BWDA has been working in four districts of Tamil Nadu, and one district in Pondicherry, South India. BWDA works in 2260 Villages, 841 panchayats, 83 town panchayats, 52 blocks,21 taluks, 21 municipalities, 826 urban wards, 2 corporations in 10 districts of Tamil Nadu & Kerala and in 5 communes (blocks), 2 municipalities, 11 town panchayats and 60 village panchayats, 192 wards and 149 villages in the U.T. of Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • Yes

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

BWDA will initially work in Villupuram, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram Districts of Tamil Nadu and in Pondicherry. The program rolled out to other backward districts in Tamil Nadu and Kerala based on the demand from members. BWDA has an existing network in 10 districts of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Andaman.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

BWDA since its inception in 1985 has been working to improve access to water and sanitation in different capacities. BWDA believes that holistic development is key to poverty alleviation. This makes heath a key factor and health is directly dependent on WSH. Generally target population operational areas are not aware of importance of safe water and sanitation. They are not aware of the time and energy spent on water collection for household usage. Being daily wage laborers, they go to fields early morning and return late evenings. Water collection for domestic purposes and drinking is real challenge. In many families, the school going girls collect water forming long queues at public water supply taps. Most of the times, the public water supply is erratic. In such situations, their schools timing also gets affected. In some villages, water supply may happen in nights or late evenings. Girls and women are mostly the water collectors and they face enormous hardships during nights.

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

BWDA has extensive experience in implementing WASH Projects, primarily providing access to water credit for development of WSH infrastructure and creating awareness. BWDA has worked with for facilitating water credit of Rs.17.42 Cr for the construction of 19145 toilets & water connections. During the course of the project, we have faced issues relating to the supply of low cost WSH products at rural areas. Building on existing ideas and our experience in the field, we conceived the B-SMart initiative. BWDA is only offering water credit combined with training and awareness creation now. Introduction of sanitary marts will help us service our clients better and help us give them low cost and need specific solutions,complemented by skilled workforce, with scope for customization. It will also enable them to make informed decisions to complement their livelihoods (eg.Excreta as fertilizer for agriculture). This Initiative will eliminate a major constraint in developing WSH infra

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

BWDA will face the following risks 1. Competition - BWDA will offer low cost end to end customized solution complemented with water credit and training wherever applicable 2. Lack of technical expertise for production & installation - Capacity building of identified personnel and liaison with supplier through product forum/network 3. Maintenance of WSH infra - After sale service to support implementation and service of newer WSH technologies

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

BWDA has a strong Project Management Team with extensive experience. BWDA's experience with has further equipped us with skills required for recording and tracking beneficiaries and assessing impact of WASH projects. BWDA will use Finsoft to track Water Credit linked to the mart and an inventory management system to track supplies&services availed. Customer management system will track details of beneficiaries and will be vetted by the IAC team. GPS based tracking will be implmented

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

BWDA has a member base of 30,828 SHGs and over 532,187 members from low income households. BWDA through its BWASH project has facilitated water credit to only 3.5% of its member base. BWDA is targeting reaching out to 50,000 families by 2019 through the B-Smart Initiative. BWDA will service 20,000 - 30,000 beneficiaries through the initiative in two years.

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

BWDA will use the funding support for the following: 1. Setting up of a product supplier network/forum to source products or production methodologies and facilitate availability of a strong product mix through the mart 2. Setting up of central Sanitary Mart and production unit 3. Construction of model toilets at 4 centers for our Sanitation Mart in each district of operation 4. Infrastructure development of sanitary mart network 5. Awareness creation 6. Capacity building to technical staff and masons 7. Media engagement and marketing 8.Setting up of community led sanitary napkin vending and disposal units 9. Administration and governance

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

BWDA would require the following support beyond grant funding: 1.Networking 2.Linkage with financial institutions 3.Government engagement and PRI liaison 4.Information dissemination and best practices

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

BWDA has FCRA registration (Registration Number: 076010074)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thi Bao Ngoc Nguyen

Very specific model to solve the problem. Hope that your group can develop this model to other countries

Photo of Christopher

Great idea!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on moving into the Refinement phase Joslin and team! Here is a question from our experts. Looking forward to your responses.

Have you already begun developing sanitary marts or is this a new concept for your organization?

We’d also love for you to reach out engage with some of the other ideas in the Refinement phase of this challenge. Collaboration is the name of the game here at OpenIDEO. We’re looking forward to how you’ll work together to grow each other’s initiatives.

Photo of OpenIDEO

To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Photo of Joslin Thambi Chellaiah

Thank you very much for giving us an opportunity to showcase our thoughts. We have extensive experience in implementing WASH Projects, primarily providing access to water credit for development of WSH infrastructure and creating awareness. During the course of the project, we have faced issues relating to the supply of low cost WSH products at rural areas. Building on existing ideas and our experience in the field, we conceived the B-SMart initiative. We have not yet started implementation but have interacted with vendors who offer precast walls, tanks and other products to gain understanding of the dynamics of such an initiative.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Hi Team, we have a few days left before the conclusion of the Refinement phase. It'd be fantastic if you might answer the new questions we added to your idea submission form. To update your post, please follow the tips in the previous comment from OpenIDEO. Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Abhishek U

I went through your idea and liked the B Smart concept. This concept is very much in tune with the most needed missing link in the sanitation supply chain. From the photo displayed by you I could come to a conclusion that a person will be able to procure most of the sanitation materials like phenol, toilet pans, P traps, toilet cleaning brushes etc., in one go. This is really appreciable. Hope you have similar marts in different areas.
From your write up I came to know that you have a huge demand for toilets in your area, staff to carry out the project, a microfinance institution for financing needy customers, and marts for providing building materials. However, I feel that the most important part in the supply chain is the construction of the toilet and there is a dearth of masons across the country to build “only a toilet”. There are so many problems associated with masons when it comes to toilet construction alone.
Please go through my idea One-S5 (One Stop Sustainable Scaleable Sanitation Solution) in the IDEO challenge. You being a Microfinance practitioner who owns and runs it, I hope you will be having a huge demand for building household toilets at your end. When you have a demand and I can build quality toilets on a fast track basis, why can’t we tie up and work together in meeting the demands in your geography? This will really be a Win-Win situation for both of us.

Photo of Joslin Thambi Chellaiah

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your appreciation. I will look at your project and get back to you.

Photo of Juliet Martinez

I appreciate your holistic, market-based approach, and your acknowledgement that lack of sanitary facilities disproportionately endangers girls and women. Good luck! 

Photo of Joslin Thambi Chellaiah

We thank you for your appreciation. We look forward to implementing this project for the empowerment of low income households.