India Field Work

RTI is developing an on-site waste treatment and toilet system designed for communal or shared applications.

IMG_0562The RTI system captures waste in our self-contained unit as someone uses the toilet, and then separates the waste for treatment underneath the ROCA-designed low-flush squat plate. The urine is treated using an electro-chemical disinfection process, and the solid feces material is dried and then burned in a compact gasifier. Our system is designed as a closed-loop, applying technology that treats and reuses the liquids and generates power for the system through the combustion process. RTI demonstrated its first prototype at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair India in New Delhi in March 2014.

Beginning in May 2014, RTI began field activities in India.

RTI has chosen to focus its work in India in the State of Gujarat. Ahmedabad is the chosen hub for our work, and additional work undertaken in Vadodara (Baroda). These locations provide strong collaborations with local government, leading universities, and NGO partners working on meeting the challenge improved urban sanitation. The commercial strength of these two cities also provides the prospect of strong industry and manufacturing partner linkages as we work towards product development.

The India work in 2014-15 focused on gathering user insights on the prototype’s technology and user interface, and to garnering feedback on the approach to on-site waste treatment. Focus groups were conducted in Vadodara and Ahmedabad with low-income residents in both cities. These early field insights have proven valuable to risk management in our technology development, giving us real-time feedback for the team’s technology development and helping us anticipate adoption questions.

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Our work in Ahmedabad has continued through 2015-16 with continued user studies and prototype field testing activities. In September 2015, RTI opened a prototype testing facility on the campus of CEPT University in Ahmedabad. From this site, we are executing controlled performance field testing to understand system operations in controlled and realistic conditions. We are collecting user data to inform design to address adoption questions for varying shared-sanitation market segments. This site at CEPT also provides a platform that has enabled an important gateway for visitors, contributing to our ability to showcase the technology development and advance partnership development.

India partnerships have been a cornerstone of our field activities with each prototype version. These collaborations will only continue to grow.

partnerships

SEWA, the women’s union with national reach in-country, is supporting user studies through the mobilization of communities to provide input and feedback on our system design and approach. NEERMAN, a Mumbai-based research and consulting organization, is supporting qualitative and quantitative data work. These non-profit partners are instrumental in contributing a range of social, economic and cultural perspectives from a diverse set of communities in Gujarat, and supporting our engagement and conversations about the technology and approach in Hindi and Gujarati. L&T Engineering, from their Vadodara office, is conducting a value-engineering task on our prototype. L&T is also providing on-site engineering support at the CEPT prototype site.

The partnership with CEPT University is a vital one and continues to grow beyond the shared facility, to include sanitation research engagements with faculty and students. ROCA’s India subsidiary, Perryware, has been instrumental in hardware support for the CEPT site making important CSR inputs critical to enabling this excellent WiC prototype facility. Engagement with the National Institute of Design (NID) and one of its graduates has brought insightful design contributions. Additional important partnerships have included consulting work with a WSH researcher at the Public Health Foundation of India on issues of menstrual hygiene management (MHM), the Urban Management Center (UMC) engagement to support an IT application for survey work at CEPT University, and our service agreement with Hi Tech Labs in Ahmedabad for waste stream treatment verification.