Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar Citywide Sanitation Projects

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Focus Areas: Water & Sanitation

This project, which began in 2010, aims to provide hygienic and accessible sanitation facilities to slum dwellers, ensuring a better standard of living. This was done through planned upgrades to existing infrastructure. Through community participation and involvement, the Federation and Mahila Milan have set standards that enable the urban poor to take part in the construction tendering, design and implementation process under various Government toilet schemes, namely the Nirmal Bhayat Abhiyan (total sanitation) campaign and the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project II (MSDP II). The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has subsidized the project and borne the cost.

Location: Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar, India


The provision of hygienic and accessible sanitation facilities for slum dwellers in Mumbai and Bhubaneswar. In Bhubaneswar project activity also includes the provision of the planning and construction or upgrade of houses and infrastructure to further improve the standard of living. Three hundred and one (301) toilet blocks and six thousand and twenty (6,020) toilets have been completed in settlements across Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar.

The toilet blocks constructed by the Alliance have certain special features that differentiate them from the ones constructed by the Municipality or other agencies/institutions. There are separate entrances for women and men as well as having children squatting areas, overhead and underground water tanks for twenty-four (24) hour water supply. Wherever possible, the toilet blocks are connected to the main sewer line. If this is not possible septic tanks are constructed. There is also a twenty-four (24) hour supply of electricity, which makes the facilities convenient, comfortable and safer for young girls and women to use at any time of the day. Caretakers have been appointed to undertake facility maintenance.

Community capacity:

Through community participation and involvement, the Federation and Mahila Milan have set norms for allowing the urban poor to take part in the tendering, design and implementation process in constructing toilets under various Government schemes.


The project is being undertaken in a number of settlements in Mumbai and Bhubaneswar. The project can be scaled up and implemented not only in other settlements within these cities but in settlements throughout the country, since it is funded through Government subsidies.  


The project has helped improve the lives of women and children in the slums, with marked improvements in health and school attendance. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$50,000.00.

Resources Leveraged:

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) subsidised the project. 

State Subsidy:

The State subsidies were accessed through the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan toilet scheme, which was introduced by the Government of India in 2007. The Government of Maharashtra took up Nirmal Mumbai Metropolitan Region Abhiyan (MMRA) to comply with the central government’s policy by constructing nearly thirty thousand (30,000) toilet seats in Greater Mumbai; this is also the largest sanitation project to-date, encompassing fourteen (14) Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The main tasks assigned to non-governmental organisations (NGOs)  under this was the responsibility of conducting publicity, undertaking mobilization, health and hygiene education, planning, design, construction and community based organisation (CBO) formation. 

Costs recovered from community:

The community did not contribute financially towards project construction; rather, the Alliance was contracted by the Municipality to construct the toilets. Money towards maintenance and paying the caretaker, etcetera is collected from the families who use each each particular toilet block. Households are issued family passes and have to pay Rs20-Rs30 per month for usage. Slum dwellers benefit from this as it is more economical than paying per use.  

Sheela Patel (+91) 22 238 650 53 View Website
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Project information updated: 23 March 2016

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This project falls under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan toilet scheme. The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan toilet scheme was introduced in 2007 by the Central Government to help achieve its goal of zero open defecation. This Government scheme was enacted to comply with Central Government’s policy and aims to construct thirty thousand (30,000) toilet seats in Greater Mumbai. The Alliance of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC), Mahila Milan and National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) was selected to participate because of its experience with participatory community sanitation projects. Toilet blocks in this project are similar to the ones constructed under the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project (MSDP). The MSDP was launched in 1995 by the World Bank and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). It aimed to expand the city’s sewerage treatment plant and improve its sanitation infrastructure. 


The model for these toilet blocks are similar to the ones constructed under MSDP. The overall goal of the project here again is to provide good sanitation and infrastructure facilities to slum communities which will have an overall effect on their health and standard of living. Initially Nirman was contracted to construct three hundred and sixty-seven (367) toilet blocks (with a total of 7,627 toilet seats) under the Nirmal Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) Abhiyan but for a number of reasons, a few sites had to be discarded.

Community capacity:

The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) was specifically selected because of its demonstrated experience with participatory community sanitation projects. The most important feature of the sanitation programs both in Mumbai and in MMR is the role of community participation. It has become clear, particularly to the bureaucrats, that developmental programs such as sanitation provision are not sustainable without community participation. In this sense, these sanitation projects contribute to a policy environment that welcomes the role of community participation.

The Alliance developed a strategy where communities form organized groups as part of NSDF and Mahila Milan, and are trained to do surveys, identify locations for toilet blocks, work with architects/engineers for appropriate designs, take on construction and save for maintenance. These strategies have demonstrated,  through practice,  a community-led process of providing access to basic services. These processes continue to be refined and scaled up through each project. 


Although the intention is to scale the project up across the country, a number of obstacles may prevent this. The biggest challenge is that sanitation has not been given its rightful place in the development agenda. The second challenge relates to the exclusionary policies of some governments, for example, the refusal of most Central Government agencies to allow basic amenities for slum dwellers on their land. The same can be said for some State Governments, which restrict developmental initiations only to recognized or notified slums, thus leaving out large groups of the population. Furthermore, many slums are on private lands and either the land has  to be acquired or notified as a slum in order to provide basic amenities. Both these steps take time and involve legal challenges. Lastly, going to scale in the area of sanitation depends upon the existence and continuing growth of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Community Based Organizations  (CBO) in large numbers. Today, there are very few civil society entities interested in issues like this.


Discussions with the Government of India are ongoing to focus resources on providing basic amenities like water and sanitation. Currently water and sanitation benefits a small percentage of the urban poor through the provision of formal housing.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$50,000 towards capital expenses.

Resources Leveraged:

The project costs were borne by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Additional resources leveraged include:

  • SPARC/Nirman Bridge Funds - these funds were used primarily to initiate the projects and keep them going until the first stage of construction is completed and the funds can be recovered from the relevant Urban Local Body (ULB).
  • Community-led Infrastructure Finance Facility (CLIFF) Funds - this is a revolving fund. That is, funds are lent to certain projects, recovered and then recovered funds are used to finance other projects.
  • Banks - which issue bank guarantees to the municipality and provides funds to Nirman.
  • Land - the land upon which the toilets are constructed in considered a community asset once it is acquired.

Costs recovered from community:

Loans are given to the project and not to individual members, therefore the community does not have to repay funds. Recovery of loans disbursed will be from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The Alliance aims to recover between seventy-five and ninety percent (75-90%) of funds. The Municipality contracted the Alliance for toilet block construction, meaning the total cost for construction was paid by the Municipality. Maintenance costs and payment for the caretaker is funded by household payments for use of toilet blocks. 

Cities Alliance. (n.d.). The Community-led Infrastructure Financing Facility (CLIFF). [Online]. Available:
Cities Alliance. (n.d.). Supporting a Community-Driven Sanitation Policy in India. [Online]. Available:
IANS. (2014). 'Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan' to be 'Swachh Bharat Mission'. [Online]. Available:
SPARC. (2014). Emergence of Community Toilets as a Public Good: The Work of Mahila Milan. NSDF and SPARC in India in the Area of Sanitation. [Online]. Available:
SPARC. (2015). Stop Open Defecation. [Online]. Available:
Venkatraman, T. (2014). Polls may Further Delay Phase-II of Rs4,000-cr Sewage Disposal Project. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Fully funded

Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC)

National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan