If you visit this site often you’ll know that we’ve already begun field work, seeking input on our toilet in India. You can read more about that here.
After our initial Round 1 user study completed, we took the data we gathered and brought it back to try and implement some changes that were suggested. We watched, listened and, more importantly, we learned. When we returned for round 2 user studies, our toilet had new requested features and slightly tweaked older ones.
The schedule included a training day in Ahmedabad on 16 Sept, 2 days of sessions in Ahmedabad (at SEWA, 17-18 Sept), and 4 days of sessions in Vadodara (at L&T, 19-23 Sept). We managed 60 participants a day, in three 2-hour time slots. In 6 days, we completed 36 focus groups with ~360 participants. The discussion groups focused on either: water reuse, menstrual hygiene (women only), men’s preferences (men only), or user interface (Vadodara only).
Participants were drawn from slum areas in each city, with a high percentage of participants having little to no household sanitation options. Communities in both cities were very water stressed.
In summary, the participants were extremely positive on the prototype and the technology and were so intrigued by the possibility of it. Water re-use for all 3 of our re-use functions received a much more positive reception than in the June round of user sessions. The enhancements to the prototype were also a big hit, notably the MHM pad chute. It was amazing to see the women’s excitement and the concept of burning pads was positively viewed by most. The exterior urinal and the hand-rails for the squat plate were popular additions too. A hand-flush mechanism won out resoundingly over the foot-pedal flush, and we learned some new insights on urination, squatting and flushing preferences.
This second round of studies also helped to further solidify collaboration, which is equally important. We are developing a solid, collaborative team across NEERMAN, SEWA and L&T. It all ran quite smoothly, and each organization grew more comfortable with the other in this 2nd Round. SEWA was rightfully proud of their ability to mobilize the volume of participants across the 2 cities in such a tight schedule.
We had some very touching and moving sentiments expressed by participants in Vadodara as they did a walk-through at the prototype. Here are a few of the best comments:
An elderly woman gave an actual blessing, and said “..bless the makers of this toilet. What a wonder. God and our community bless you for your work..”
“I will feel like a rich man if I get to use a toilet like this… I could have never dreamed”
“Thank you for thinking about women when you designed this toilet, our lives will be so much better”
“Amazing to imagine… Congratulations and bless you for your genius…”
“Cabin size is awesome. I can do my job peacefully, with space…”
“I will take pics and show everyone, all other communities will be so jealous…”
“A toilet like this is like feeding the hungry. You have found someone that has no food, and you have now provided us with food. Bless you…”
We still have a lot of work to do. But this last round of User Studies was further affirmation that we are heading in the right direction! If you want to see pictures from this last round of User Studies feel free to click here.