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Introduction to DIGIT Sanitation

Vision

Zero deaths, disease, and environmental contamination resulting from poor sanitation.

Mission

The sanitation mission at eGov aims to make its vision a reality for every citizen across India. Our aim is to ensure zero untreated waste in 1000 habitats in 1000 days by catalysing an open digital ecosystem.

Overview

We believe that at the heart of the problems in sanitation are systems that fail to deliver, and hence systems must be progressively reformed. To move habitats towards zero untreated waste, the Digital Infrastructure for Sustainable and Healthy Habitats (DISHHA) will leverage the capabilities built by the Digital Infrastructure for Governance, Impact & Transformation (DIGIT) and ensure traceability of waste by enabling the ecosystem with:
  • Digital standards for sanitation
  • Chain of custody
  • Actionable data
  • Code for innovation
The platform is drawn from the principles of societal platforms that allow us to imagine a space where sanitation has shared resources, curated and evolving knowledge, and solutions that speak to the needs of the community. The problems of sanitation are systemic, and cannot be solved without the cooperation, and collaboration of all stakeholders. Drawing from our learnings in the urban mission, we are talking about the triple helix model in the sense of partnerships between different stakeholders (samaaj/civil society, sarkaar/government, and bazaar/industry or market) that generates innovation through this synergy. Given our experience in building public digital infrastructure at scale, we believe we are best placed to create the foundation of this infrastructure and catalyse the ecosystem to solve the most pressing issues.
As a first step, drawing commonalities in the waste value chain from waste generation to reuse/ disposal, we have chosen Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) as our first solution area in sanitation.

Goals

The mission will look at the pillars of sanitation and the impact across the pillars:
Pillars of Sanitation
Impact
Inclusion
All citizens have access to safe sanitation.
Public health and environment
Driving down untreated waste in the value chain to zero.
Financial sustainability
Financial sustainability
Operations across the value chain are viable and sustainable.
Worker safety and dignity
Sanitation workers have safe and dignified working conditions such that there are zero deaths on the job.

Goal-oriented outcomes

We have identified the following pivotal problems in the FSM value chain:
  • Absence of well-defined standards for sanitation.
  • Broken chain of custody from waste generation to reuse.
  • Availability of verifiable and trusted data to all actors.
  • India is not poised to convert waste to value, yet.
  • Stakeholder behaviour is misaligned with safe sanitation practices.
While addressing these problems, the sanitation mission will focus on driving the following outcomes:
Innovation and implementation at scale with speed for the ecosystem
Ecosystem actors leverage the digital infrastructure to develop contextual implementations and rapid innovations to address critical challenges in service delivery and performance management across the value chain. Enabling states to adopt open-source technologies and skip vendor lock-in to ensure the sustainability of operations.

Easy access to regularised sanitation services

​Coverage of all citizens irrespective of physical ability, economic status, gender, and literacy. Convenient multi-channel and multi-lingual access for predictable and reliable sanitation services and schemes.

Active tracking & management of FSSM operations ​

Tracking and managing faecal sludge through the lifecycle for planning, optimising usage of physical infrastructure, and improving regulations and processes to enable compliance. This will drive efficiency and transparency.

Efficient marketplaces across the sanitation value chain ​

Effective matching of the supply and demand, operational data to inform rationalised pricing, and sustainability by leveraging data and services to refine operations. Data-driven decision-making and policy design ​Access to operational and systemic data in anonymised and aggregated forms for senior decision-makers at all levels of government, as well as for key stakeholders and influencers in the FSM ecosystem.
Data-driven decision-making and policy design
Access to operational and systemic data in anonymised and aggregated forms for senior decision-makers at all levels of government, as well as for key stakeholders and influencers in the FSM ecosystem

Approach

A multi-pronged approach - which includes both open platforms and non-technology components - is critical for creating a larger systemic transformation. It involves the following:

Create a shared narrative and ecosystem coalitions

We must build a shared narrative with key stakeholders across industry, academia, civil society, and governments on how a shared digital infrastructure can enable transformation and collaborative problem-solving. This goes beyond advocating new forms of digital technology. eGov uses a co-creative approach to develop its offerings across the spectrum of digital infrastructure (platforms), solutions (applications), and state programs (vehicles for delivering real-world impact). We are working in Odisha as the exemplar state to demonstrate our platform.

Design and build the foundational national platform

  • The key areas of work include designing multiple layers of the platform:
  1. 1.
    Core data infrastructure: This forms the base of the stack and comprises data registries, a shared source of truth, and data infrastructure.
  2. 2.
    Core services: This layer houses context-neutral functional services that can be leveraged to build sanitation solutions.
  3. 3.
    Applications layer: It provides context-sensitive solutions required to implement large-scale sanitation programs.
  • Development of key building blocks of the platform (principles, standards, and digital artefacts) are fundamental context-invariant components of the shared digital infrastructure.
  • Build reference solutions (applications) on the platform for urgent problems.

Create an exemplar of transformation to solve at scale

This will involve working with one lead state and collaborating with its local ecosystem and market players to build a reference implementation. This will be designed, tracked, and implemented, so that the interplay of faecal sludge management policies, institutions, and technology can be captured effectively and used to illustrate the approach in practice. An exemplar will strengthen the evidence-based recommendations, from concept to actual results. In addition, it will create a pull in the market for commercial players to participate.

Enable a national-scale open ecosystem to create societal impact

We will work with commercial enterprises, local players, and entrepreneurs in helping them build local solutions on the FSM platform. We believe engaging with the ecosystem will facilitate open and inclusive systems and make it easiest for stakeholders to participate, coordinate, and communicate. This will also build trust between stakeholders to improve the quality of the interactions and the outcomes achieved, besides championing data-driven decision-making among them supported by data from the platform itself.

Institutionalisation for @ scale-adoption and sustainability

For the long-term sustainability of the initiative, it is important to institutionalise the shared digital infrastructure in a suitable public institution that has the capabilities to make it available on a national scale. We will undertake efforts for this early on.
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