Existing models of ‘public-private-partnerships’ for urban sanitation need to be brought within considered regulatory and economic frameworks that enable private actors and public sectors to effectively share risks and deliver sustainable sanitation outcomes.
Until recently, the dominant paradigm for wastewater management in urban India consisted of providing underground, networked sewerage across cities and towns. However, providing networked sewerage across rapidly expanding urban areas has proven to be a resource-intensive, technically complex and lengthy proposition with the net result that only one-third of the urban residents are served by sewerage.
In the absence of planned sewerage, nearly 60% of toilet-owning households in urban India are connected to on-site sanitation (OSS) systems- underground containment structures like septic tanks or pits that hold the waste at the point of disposal. Well-designed OSS systems provide a degree of primary treatment and would require periodic emptying and further treatment before disposal into the environment. Moreover, anecdotal evidence indicates that most of the 5.5 million toilets constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), till date, have been connected to OSS systems as well. Yet, this high prevalence of private infrastructure had not, till recently, spurred cities to develop the enabling institutional processes, regulatory frameworks or physical capacity to safely collect, transport, treat and dispose or reuse “faecal sludge” and “septage” (Faecal Sludge Management or FSM).
Much of this gap has been filled by informal enterprises that employ a mix of mechanised and manual cleaning methods. Despite the ubiquity of these service providers in the FSM sector there is still insufficient understanding of these enterprises and their operations. How do they enter this market? What are the profit margins and break-even points? What are the customer-segmentation and negotiation approaches? Can we define limits to scale for these enterprises? Given the recent surge in policy focus through the National Policy for Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM 2017) and funding under the national AMRUT scheme for FSM facilities in eligible cities, it Is imperative to develop a detailed awareness of these answers and their impact on the market. This would ensure the development of the nascent FSM market and avoid ‘locking' cities into sub-optimal waste management processes.
In the past two years, many states have begun the process of building and operating FSM infrastructure using PPP models. States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh have made significant steps towards creating viable tendering processes and generating interest amongst private sector actors, experimenting with different contractual arrangements and stages of value-chain integration to suit their context.
To further this process and better understand the emerging interfaces between markets and regulatory frameworks, CPR has undertaken detailed case studies of the FSM market in four cities- Goa, Chennai, Ujjain and Jabalpur- to understand the market potential and risk-sharing strategies developed amongst communities, private entrepreneurs and governments.
Against this background, it is proposed to have a half-day 'Dialogue on PSP in Sanitation' to discuss these issues, bringing in private-sector practitioners and infrastructure experts, sanitation sector professionals and policymakers to share their insights and experience.
The objective of the Dialogue is to attempt to connect the dots between the various practitioners and experts in the field, to learn from their experience in states and their experience in implementation and initiate a broader discussion on the potential for and alternative private sector participation in the sanitation value chain.
Proposed agenda may be accessed here.
Videos of previous conferences and events of the CPR SCI-FI can be accessed here:
Dialogues on Sanitation Series
This is the 2nd dialogue in a series planned by the Scaling City Institution for India: Sanitation (SCI-FI: Sanitation) initiative with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This dialogue series builds on the CORP lecture series and seeks to provide a platform for discussing the experiences of the researchers and practitioners on urban sanitation across various thematic areas.
Scaling City Institutions for India: Sanitation (SCI-FI): Sanitation is a research programme at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on inclusive and sustainable urban sanitation. In the programme, we seek to understand the reasons for poor sanitation, and to examine how these might be related to technology and service delivery models, institutions, governance and financial issues, and socio-economic dimensions. The programme seeks to support national, state and city authorities develop policies and programmes for intervention with the goal of increasing access to safe and sustainable sanitation in urban areas.