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Building a Sanitation Infrastructure

About

The proposed project in collaboration with Urban Development Research Institute (UDRI) examines the issue of lack of low-cost sanitation infrastructure in Mumbai, with a special focus on community toilets in the city’s slums and informal settlements. Led by Professor Rahul Mehrotra, the research maps the larger community toilet networks, exploring social, technical, and cultural concerns surrounding public toilets in Mumbai. In the final stage, the research will identify the potential means by which a prototype project can be implemented to address issues of sanitation.  

The Building a Sanitation Infrastructure project team meets with Professor Rahul Mehrotra.

Background

As recently as 2015, over 946 million people worldwide are faced with inadequate sanitation facilities. High transmission of infectious diseases, such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, and malnutrition, are some of the serious health consequences of poor sanitation infrastructure. Its negative impact on education and economic opportunities cripples a country’s growth and development. 

 

Core Objectives

  1. Map the larger community toilet networks and geographies within the city. 
  2. Explore the social, technical, and cultural concerns and challenges that surround the issue of community public toilets in Mumbai.
  3. Define the potential means by which a “prototype project” can be formulated and designed for implementation to address the issue of sanitation in Mumbai.

Overview

Detailed surveys were carried out by UDRI in Mumbai koliwadis (settlements of the Koli community) of Mahim, Colaba, Trombay, Madh, Versova, Vasai, and Thane. These onsite surveys are to be converted into maps of the settlements with emphasis on documentation of the sanitation infrastructure present. The Mahim Retibunder Koliwada was selected as the site for Harvard GSD Studio STU1504 (Extreme Urbanism). UDRI provided detailed information on the GSD site, including site mapping, photo documentation, and statistical and demographic data. UDRI opened up a dialogue with various stakeholders, experts, students, and young professionals through a seminar on Sanitation as Infrastructure and various Mumbai visits.

The challenges stemming from the lack of government data has made the process of data collection slow, and the reliability and authenticity of data is difficult to ascertain. Moreover, the physical form of the settlements is very transient, thus complicating even first-hand site surveys.

Looking Ahead

The focus of the project will remain on mapping the larger community toilet networks and geographies within the city. This would include a study of private or government-funded public toilets built in Mumbai. The research will explore the social, technical, and cultural concerns that surround the issue of community public toilets in Mumbai. The team will plan prototype development and implementation. Potential partnerships will be explored with government agencies to mobilize resources for prototype implementation and to scale the project nationally in India.

The team involved in the Building a Sanitation Infrastructure project work together on the beach.