Awareness Week 9


As we wrap up this project, the awareness team has reflected back on all of our research and compiled conclusions and recommendations for this project. We have shared our key insights to improving the NGO’s awareness strategy that we have gathered from previous case studies, discussions with professors and PhD students, and our own work on this project. We have provided a lot of information that can be left as follow up material. It is very important to us and the NGO to have a lasting impact in every community that they visit. We are confident that the awareness manual that we have created will help enable this impact. In addition, we have collaborated with the finance team to determine recommendations for improving the NGO’s fundraising campaigns. We have included these recommendations in our report as well. We have really enjoyed working on this project and feel that our work will benefit the NGO’s awareness strategy greatly.


When compiling the final product to send to Parishudh, it is important to make sure that we include all the materials and insights that we have found this quarter. Therefore, we are spending our last week making sure that our awareness manual encompasses everything that we find important for Parishudh to have or know. We are compiling all of the links, manuals, and pictures we have used into a zip file so they will have access to everything that we used to put together our final report. Also, I am working on compiling a short branding manual that Parishudh can consider or use to market their product and make sure that they are getting their name out there. The inspiration for this will mostly come from the IDEO’s Clean Team branding guide and hopefully some of our ideas will help Parishudh moving forward.  We hope that our recommendations provide Parishudh with some new ideas and insights and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for Parishudh and the communities that it helps.


EPC Week 9

Dennis Te

As our last week working on the project for this quarter, we were primarily wrapping up and collecting all of the data necessary to compile our report and send it out to Parishudh. In general, we have looked a several models over the course of the quarter, and consequently haven’t specifically developed anything “breakthrough” per say. However, with the biogas model, we have created a model that tackles many of the issues, including waste water management, waste management, incentives, failure, personal maintenance, privacy, sanitation, and cost. All of these have been addressed, and although there is no “fix-all” solution, the biogas model seems to tackle many of the issues in a unique but simple method. There are three big issues with the biogas model right now: full pathogen removal, 100% effectiveness, and privacy. The biogas model would not remove the parasite eggs that is created from the sludge of the biogas. It also cannot be promised to work for every site, as there are very few studies that look at the efficiency and success rate of human biogas tanks. Lastly, because it is a clustered toilet system (to save construction money) there may be issues with women’s privacy, and using the restroom.

We are currently working on finalizing a report to send to our NGO. We have our fingers crossed that our insights will impact India’s sanitation issue in some manner.


In the final week, we have been revising our recommendations for the technological solutions that would be relevant for the cost structure, scale and context of Parishudh’s future challenges. It is clear that there is no single best-fit solution. However, with the right combination of awareness building, pricing, incentives to increase maintenance, policy support and community momentum, this project is very close to a plan that would help them work towards their ultimate goals.

We have greatly benefitted from this opportunity to be a part of one of the largest sanitation infrastructure-building movements in India. I personally hope to see this initiative fulfill its final ambitions, and to be part of this in the future.


As we started to wrap up the course and work on the final report, the EPC group needed to address a number of questions. We have been reflecting on the goals that we set for ourselves, and how they changed over the quarter. Initially, we hoped to make a substantial difference in toilet design and water treatment in a number of ways: we wanted to find a more cost-saving design and a system of waste treatment that was both sustainable and would create a usable product. We have come to realize that there may not be feasible solutions that address every one of these goals. Hence, for the past week we have mainly been working on what kind of compromises we can make with the solutions that we did come up with. I will be writing a report section on composting, which is likely the least feasible of the three final options, due to the difficulty in creating non-pathogenic fertilizer from human waste. The only advantage of composting is that it may require slightly less extra building components than the other treatment options. As others can discuss, biogas is currently the most possible solution. However, I think biochar may be underexplored for the goal of creating a sustainable waste treatment system, though it doesn’t necessarily address our goal of a usable end product.


As Denis and Sonya have mentioned, one of our key takeaways is that each option has its challenges and there is no one perfect solution.  However, some solutions are certainly better than others and we’ve been able to rule out several options.  In our report I will be outlining several of these eliminated options, such as dehydration and anaerobic lagoons.  I will also be discussing biochar.  While biochar has many disadvantages, it has the potential to work well in some situations.  In locations where soil amendments are badly needed, biochar could provide a way to improve the soil without the risk of pathogens.    However, the high amount of energy required to produce the biochar makes it infeasible for most communities.


Coming to the end of the project, we have come to realize that most of the problems associated with sanitation lie not in technological limitations, but in gaining acceptance from the local population on the need to improve community hygiene. New technology will always be at the receiving end of local scepticism, and hence will face barriers in terms of resistance to implementation, as well as the associated risk of technical failure at a large scale.  Our project report will sum up all the options we looked into over the past quarter, and will attempt to offer situation specific recommendations.

Finance week 8

This week we focused on our latest two deliverables: the marketing manual and the website. The marketing manual is intended to be an overview for Parishudh regarding how they can market themselves effectively moving forward. In other words, it describes how to brand themselves and cultivate a brand image. The goal here is to bring in transparency by showcasing their projects properly. For example, the marketing manual will describe how to best conduct case studies of served families for the website. Moreover, it will include tips for gathering and constructing material for marketing/the website in general.

Our second deliverable is the website, which aims to help Parishudh showcase and manage their data. First, it allows them to add new data to a public stream easily; the site contains a map view that displays pins with names, descriptions, and images at all of their project locations. Thus, they can easily add new data to manage their data warehouse. The goal with this platform is for it to serve as a mechanism for highly-transparent fundraising. In other words, users can see exactly where projects are occurring and see their current status, and can then just as easily donate directly to these projects. This will bolster Parishudh’s ability to attract donations and fundraising dollars from external sources because it will demonstrate the tangible work they’re doing while making it easy for people to find ways to get involved and see the meaningful impact their support will have.

Awareness Week 8 Updates


This week the awareness team has been busy compiling all of our material into a deliverable. We had an excellent discussion with a PhD student that is a part of our course that has experience with awareness in developing countries. He gave us some excellent advice on possible ways to raise awareness and demand for toilets. He said creating social pressure could be incredibly useful. Raising demand for the toilets by limiting the supply could help accomplish this. One way of doing this could be to allow only twenty families to be building toilets at a time and the rest of the families must remain on a wait list. These families will put pressure on the families whose toilets are being built to quickly purchase and build the toilets. Social pressure could also be created by giving praise and acknowledgement to the people that have purchased toilets so that other members will want to purchase toilets. In addition, the community knows who is still choosing to open defecate and there is a social pressure for them to change. This is especially important in terms of open defecations because the health results are only seen if the entire village stops open defecating. We really appreciate the advice we received this week and are incorporating it into our awareness strategy.


As the end of the quarter approaches, there are many loose ends that need to be tied up. After compiling our awareness manual, we have been seeking further recommendations on how we can make it better and make sure we giving Parishudh everything that we want them to have in order to move forward with this new awareness strategy. As we have previously mentioned, we have found through many different people that the most important aspect of our campaigns is how we portray our messages and that a picture is worth 1,000 words. As we move forward, we hope to use more pictures and infographics to easily portray the benefits of sanitation in our campaigns. Furthermore, the effect of sanitation education in schools has been further emphasized as well as the importance of having educated teachers on our side for awareness efforts. We want to make it as easy as possible for teachers to educate their students about sanitation, so we plan to make more detailed lesson plans with as many materials that we can provide them to use in the classroom. As we move forward with our project in the final weeks, we also plan to help the finance team with their marketing manual by adding information about how to interview community members before moving forward with our campaigns, ways to implement the website, and helping with new ideas for fundraising.

EPC Week 8 Updates


This week I continued to explore the acceptability and suitability of evapotranspirative fields for water drainage from the waste. Although overflow and contamination during the monsoon season is a concern, we believe it can be tackled by ensuring quick drainage of the topsoil layers to ensure the capillarity action from bottom to the top. We are now working on consolidating our finding and recommendations into a comprehensive report. Our discussion with Tim this week also threw some light on the lessons we were learning through the process of trying to find solutions to sanitation. We noticed that our approach was to find one cure-all solution that would take care of hygiene, safe disposal as well as a profitable waste recovery model, rather than an adequate alternative to open defecation. Although overwhelming, this resulted in the uncovering of all the possible bottlenecks to the technologies we researched, but also in our gaining a deeper understanding of the many layers of the sanitation problem.


This week we were able to meet with Tim Burke and discuss our current design options and attempt to hammer out some of the problems we’ve encountered so far.  One design we spent a considerable amount of time on was the biogas reactor.  As has been mentioned in previous posts, one of the challenges we’ve faced is what to do with the sludge produced in the biogas generation process.  We had been largely operating on a model with a single holding tank, whether baffled or unbaffled.  Tim suggested that we consider a two-tank system.  As far as construction is concerned, the design would be similar to the septic tanks currently being constructed by the program.  Because of the similarity to the existing design, the cost of construction would probably be comparable.  The primary difference would be that the first tank would generate biogas and the second tank would hold the sludge to increase the residence time.  Like a traditional septic tank, it would have to be emptied periodically.  We also further examined the toilet design in an attempt to reduce the amount of water entering the digester with the solids.  However, we haven’t yet been successful at coming up with a method that siphons off a portion of the water (~25%) that is also compatible with the local toilet design.


This week we focused on putting together all the information we have learned over the past weeks and figuring out whether there was some best solution or at least top contender for us to recommend. We also returned to the design of the toilet itself rather than the water treatment issue. Our discussion with Tim was extremely helpful in that it reminded us of our goals, and that maybe our goals were far too large. We had been hoping to find both a solution that would give people a concrete product from the waste, in order to help incentivize them to adopt the toilets, and also were requiring it to be completely safe and remove all pathogens. However, Tim reminded us that our solution simply had to be a reasonable improvement on the current situation,  and that a magical cure-all may not exist. Therefore we started to look back at our information and progress in a new light. So far, we have a tentative design for the biogas toilet, and our main issue is how to get rid of some but not all of the water, since the ratio will still be somewhat off. We have been able to basically eliminate composting, as it is a solution that often sounds good at first glance and in practice usually doesn’t work. Finally, we have not yet eliminated biochar, but we still need to look into whether it is energy efficient and whether it is even useful for the soil.


For week 8, the EPC team had focused on determining the exact content of the recommendations that would be made in the final report. This included deciding on the types of waste management methodologies that could be usefully utilized on the field, and therefore the best-practice implementations of these methodologies.

In the group’s opinion, composting still seems to present problems with pathogen extermination and a reduced efficacy of deactivation that can be achieved with human waste. Therefore, it is unlikely that composting can be the most effective solution at the scales that Parishudh would work on.

Similarly, biogas also presents interesting challenges in balancing the ratio of solid and liquid content. Another challenge was to make enough biogas so that the entire system could be net income-positive. However, we have realized that the end-goal of profitability may not be as crucial as imagined, and iterative improvements should first deal with the proper treatment of the waste rather than simply concentrate on income generation. To this effect, we have moved on to not only look at biogas plants with renewed interest, but also to another potential application in biochar.

Dennis Te

This week has been very productive in terms of model and design of the toilet, specifically the biogas plant. We have currently been able to model the biogas plant onto a 3D modeling program and subsequently show our design to Tim Burke. Burke was able to give some feedback on the biogas, having built some himself. However, he had not built any for human waste processing. We also created 3D models for the leachate/evaporation system that we were designing, and also showed it to him. His feedback was most helpful.

He was most enthusiastic about the biogas plant, since in the case that it was a “failure” (in the wsense that it wouldn’t produce biogas) it would act as a waste processing system and as a two pit septic tank. Although we really would like the biogas to work, it is a reasonable argument.

Our future goal for the biogas is to begin to try to optimize how it would function. We would need to optimize the content input, as well as create the awareness level so that they are able to understand what goes into the biogas plant. Obviously, on a elemental level, we know the basic compositions of what should be input into the biogas plant, however, we need to put this into layman’s terms so that they know what ratio of what stuff should be put into the biogas plant.


Finance Week 8 Update

This week we began compiling all our findings. We have also started completing the Marketing Manual for our NGO partner. The Marketing Manual would address the following:

1. Frequency with which to update the website.

2. Material to put on the website.

3. Material to collect for creating case studies.

4. Expense sharing platform to exhibit transparency in work.

5. Tips for uploading case studies from a marketing perspective.

Our team has also begun creating a presentation that would show the work we have completed in this quarter.

Finance Week 7 Update


This week we looked at Biogas related costs. We found out that it is difficult for a biogas based plant to pay for itself, mainly because of lack of an assured customer.

Although the Biogas approach appears to be better than making compost, we found that it involves numerous problems when utilized on a community scale. The problems that we enlisted are::

1. Lack of assured individual customers for biogas

2. Gas production not substantial enough (for a size of 40-80 persons) to use for industrial applications

3. Lack of customers for the outlet sludge.

4. Fertilizer/Coal is too subsidized in terms of cost and hence hampers the penetration of compost/biogas

Next week we will find suitable ways around these problems