Dr Sharon Barnhardt, Director of CESS Nuffield – FLAME University in Pune, and the ‘Project Sammaan’ research team are delighted to announced that the first of their community toilet facilities have been opened in India. ‘Project Sammaan’, led by Dr Barnhardt, in partnership with MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack Municipal Corporations, and several other institutions and academics, receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project looks at policy issues surrounding sanitation and health problems associated with the large percentage of the Indian population engaged in open defecation (currently almost 50%). The aim is to reduce this percentage through innovative community toilet facilities, and these are the first two facilities to be inaugurated, with fifty-six more planned.
The new facilities include various features designed to encourage their use including floating roofs providing natural light and ventilation and universal access stalls for the disabled. At each facility, a caretaker will be employed to collect real-time data on toilet usage via a bespoke tablet application, and the ‘Project Sammaan’ team will closely monitor the management by undertaking auditing and addressing grievances. The aim of the project is to produce a model that can be replicated and disseminated across India in order to improve urban sanitation policy.
Further details about ‘Project Sammaan’ and the new facilities can be found in the following FLAME University press release: http://www.prnewswire.co.in/news-releases/bill–melinda-gates-foundation-investing-in-research-of-cess-nuffield—flame-university-director-627891393.html.