Swapnil Chaturvedi

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Swapnil Chaturvedi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Swapnil recognizes that improving sanitation for low-income urban communities in India is as much about better infrastructure as it is about user engagement and the creation of positive habits. With this insight, he is focused on creating compelling experiences that satisfy user needs and promote key behaviour to make sanitation aspirational for the urban poor.

Swapnil employs a range of creative tactics that influence both: the environment and the emotional and rational side of communities. Applying a human -centric design approach, Swapnil works with the community to make changes to existing public toilets (improving ventilation, introducing child friendly bowls etc.) that instill ownership and create better user experiences. Simultaneously, Swapnil understands the needs and wants of communities to introduce a dynamic system of rewards and feedback that are aimed at bringing about a sustainable shift in behaviour. For instance, he appeals to the emotional and competitive side of communities by providing instant gratification through points for connecting new users to the system, celebrating success and providing feedback on their performance vis-a-vis their neighbours. He also appeals to the rational side of communities by allowing families to redeem their points for discounts on hygiene, sanitary and nutritional food products. Through a combination of game mechanics and data analytics (including data that communicates money lost due to lack of hygiene) he creates a range of intrinsic and extrinsic stimulators that engage the community and positively influence their behaviour towards sanitation options.

Swapnil’s intervention in Pune slum blocks has already led to a 600 percent increase in payment for toilet usage, and the average number of daily users is over 2500, thus reducing the impact of open defecation and related diseases. A recent MOU with the Pune Municipality Corporation will now give Swapnil access to 50 toilet blocks across the city.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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