In August 2012, Jack Sims of WTO (World Toilet Organization) together with Avik Roy and three others examined toilets designed, constructed and managed by communities in Mumbai with the assistance of the Alliance. The object of their visit was to explore the possibility of developing a financial sustainable strategy for the management and maintenance of toilets built in slums.
After concluding a week long meeting with the MM and the NSDF leaders managing the sanitation projects, Avik met with the members of SPARC. Avik heads an organization called Base of the Pyramid (BOP) that works with numerous development organizations. He assisted Jeb Brugman and C.K. Prahalad with their work in actualizing the practice linked to working with the bottom of the pyramid. The discussion between Avik and SPARC was to both to receive feedback from the team as well as to help the team understand the Alliance's conditions, concerns, and strategies to further improve the functions of the toilet blocks.
What SPARC said:
Since partnerships are required to be sustained over an extended period of time, the first phase should evaluate the values, assumptions, and capacities of each organization to handle each other’s functioning. These projects are successful if soft money and grants blend with hard money in an attempt to develop a market savvy strategy needed to acknowledge this blend. Eventually, the obvious and evident aspects will pale in comparison to the issues, challenges, and problems which both the organizations will have to jointly face.
About working with communities:
Although SPARC is a vital partner, this process has to include the leaders of MM and NSDF who will be managing the sanitation program. Any suggestions will be accepted if, through trial and error, it demonstrates an increase in the community's’ collective empowerment.
About the concept of SPA:
The concept of reformulating toilet as a SPA seems disconnected with the Indian concept. In turn, we need to look at an Indian name which people can relate to.
About working in different wards in Mumbai:
WTO should look at locations from a ward wise perspective. SPARC can select a ward and develop demo projects which can be scaled up at the ward level.
About working in smaller towns:
The slums of Mumbai are consolidated, thus working in Mumbai is equivalent to working in a “retrofitting” context. Consideration should be given to working in smaller towns where the slums are not so dense and also to working at city scale.
Working on sanitation:
Sanitation should be seen as an issue to provide universal sanitation; as providing safe and dignified provisions where other amenities and services make the facility a community hub that is attractive and pulls in participation.
What they said:
Avik and his team agreed upon concerns raised by SPARC and committed that this project will be a pilot project and will be treated patiently. He is also trying to bring the private actors in this process to make it financially viable.
Further his team is also thinking of changing the concept name from community SPA to a name which appeals to slum communities.