Sanitation Market in Urban India

The Challenge

Diarrheal disease, which is primarily caused by lack of access to adequate sanitation and safe drinking water, is the second biggest killer of children under five years of age globally. Approximately 2.5 billion people live without access to safe sanitation facilities, and in India alone, two-thirds of the population, or more than 800 million people, use unimproved sanitation facilities.In addition, there is a downstream challenge, where the nation only has one-third of the capacity needed to treat even the existing sewage waste in the system. Accessibility to low-cost toilets is certainly a necessary part of the solution, but the collection and treatment aspects of the sanitation value chain require innovation as well – areas where large capital-intensive sewage networks with centralized treatment infrastructure have been the norm.

The Opportunity

There is growing momentum for a heightened focus on sanitation. Sanitation and wastewater commitments have nearly doubled since 2002, and the human right to sanitation was recognized in a landmark resolution supported a majority of UN Member States in 2010. In particular, there is an increasing focus on the development of lower-cost and decentralized, technologies that provide on-site sanitation solutions.  Market dynamics methods can be utilized to accelerate the introduction of such decentralized sanitation technologies in emerging economies in affordable and high-quality ways.

Our Work

In October 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned Results for Development (R4D) to analyze the fecal sludge management (FSM) market in urban India and the feasibility of two brand-new decentralized sanitation technologies, which are designed to dramatically increase on-site collection and treatment and reduce indiscriminate dumping in urban environments. R4D and a local partner rapidly engaged with about 100 market actors, including suppliers, operators, regulators and financiers to achieve this.

  • Landscaped and sized urban India’s FSM market: The team analyzed the size of the fecal sludge collection and treatment market in urban India, the current major players in relevant aspects of the sanitation value chain, and the required actions for market entry and adoption across all levels of the market (suppliers, operators, regulators, and financiers).
  • Analyzed feasibility of technologies in the urban India market: R4D conducted a feasibility analysis to test the product-market fit of the sanitation technologies in four focus cities in Karnataka and Orissa. Within those chosen locations, the team conducted detailed technical, operational, and financial analyses of the specifications and costs of each technology.  This included benchmarking against existing competitive technologies and assessing the potential role of the public and private sectors, regulatory and policy issues, and the value-proposition to users.
  • Mapped approach for market entry: The team provided nuanced analysis of challenges to market entry to inform continued development of the sanitation technologies, including recommendations for potential product adaptations and alternative market opportunities. A holistic approach for elimination of indiscriminate dumping was also outlined.

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