Bhubaneswar: Project Samman, with 44 specially designed toilet complexes across the city totalling 264 toilet seats, is all set to transform the sanitation scenario in the State Capital.
As part of the implementation of Smart City Projects, under Project Samman, 17 community toilets have been constructed in the first phase in some of the major slum localities in the city. Respective Ward Sanitation Committees (WSCs) in each of the wards have been handed over operation, maintenance and supervision responsibilities of all these community toilets in order to ensure proper maintenance and upkeep. These committees also play a significant role in creating awareness among fellow slum residents to stop open defecation and make use of these specially designed toilets.
Similarly, 27 public toilets have also been constructed in the first phase, on strategic locations adjoining major streets, bus stops and high-footfall junctions in the city.
This has ensured access to safe, dignified and reliable sanitation solutions for both slum residents as well as visitors to the city besides putting a curb to the ills of open defecation.It can be mentioned here that another nine community toilet complexes with 54 more toilet seats under Project Samman, are in the pipeline.
As per data available from Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), 2.5 lakh users so far have used the Project Samman facilities till March 31, 2018, recorded through mobile tablets. Interestingly, as the toilet complexes were developed with inclusiveness in mind, 6,000 differently-abled persons have also used them as on date.
The special features of the project include:
Child-Friendly: Each toilet-complex has latrines specifically designed for children, making it a safe and child-specific option. Complementary products were also provided to users such as children’s potty seats.
Universal Accessibility Features: For the first time universal accessibility features have been incorporated in large number of shared toilet facilities in Bhubaneswar. Sufficient numbers of toilet seats were designed for universal access. A designated stall at the front of each toilet is there for differently-abled, pregnant and elderly women. Ramps have also been created at all public toilets constructed under Project Sammaan.
Privacy and Dignity: Gender segregated sections in toilet complexes for men and women, with separate entries ensured privacy and dignity for all.
Electrical menstrual waste incinerators: They are placed in the women’s area of the toilets. This would encourage women to properly dispose of the waste, thus preventing clogging up of toilets and building better hygiene in the toilets.
In order to effectively address the issues of public sanitation facilities arising out of rapid urbanisation, BMC in a multi-collaboration venture had initiated Project Samman. The civic body has collaborated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Jameel Poverty Action Lab Quicksand Design Studio and few other organisations. The initiative got a leg up when Project Samman found prominent space among various social interventions listed in the award-winning Bhubaneswar Smart City proposal in 2015-2016.
The project ensured that community members are being involved in the very beginning and subsequent stages of planning and implementation. The initiatives include demand-generating activities such as pre-construction dialogue, user training, distribution of number codes and sanitation awareness campaigns. Presently nearly 30 percent of the city’s population is still living in slums and lack individual household toilets (sanitation facilities) due to small houses and paucity of space.
The primary objective of Project Sammaan as aptly conveyed in the project name is to instill a sense of dignity while addressing issues affecting healthy sanitation practices in the slums and other major public places of the city.
The project is thus aimed to rethink the current models of shared sanitation facilities besides designing a new programmatic infrastructure and physical structure, besides studying behavioral change processes through the collection of usage data.