In New Delhi, No Place to ‘Go’

Abstract

India’s economic reforms of the 1990s have led to an exponential growth in industrial and commercial activities, which in turn has led to rapid urbanization. India’s capital city, New Delhi, has been struggling to provide its approximately 17 million residents with adequate amenities. This struggle is particularly prominent in the nearly 700 squatter settlements known as Jhuggi Jhopri clusters (JJ clusters), also known as Delhi’s slums, which are on public land owned by multiple civic bodies.

Amongst other basic amenities, the lack of proper toilets for slum dwellers continues to be a cause for concern for Delhi’s civic bodies. The poor sanitation situation goes beyond a simple inconvenience to slum dwellers: the combination of rapid urbanization, open defecation, and ill-maintained toilets contributes to poor water quality, public health problems, sexual harassment and inequity for women, and poor economic productivity.

Amar Nath, as CEO of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), has the mandate of finding a fix for the longstanding sanitation problem in Delhi’s slums. To address the lack of toilets in Delhi’s slums, Nath is turning to bio-toilets as an answer to the sanitation problem. Bio- toilets are a social innovation spin-off of the cutting edge bio-digester technology. Nath is steering his project ahead despite political upheaval, financial challenges, unwieldy government structure, and technology gaps.

This case study is part of a series of cases designed for the course "Case Studies in Sustainable Development" at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

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