1. How is the organization governed? Is there a board and leadership team?

Sewa International is a nonprofit service organization registered under Internal Revenue Code 501 (c) (3). Founded in 2003, Sewa International is part of a larger movement that started in India in 1989 and is active in twenty countries. Sewa serves humanity irrespective of race, color, religion, gender or nationality.

Sewa International Team: Click here

  • Board of Directors
  • Executive Leadership
  • Board of Advisors

Sewa International T & H Team: Click here

2. What are the vision and mission of the organization?

We aspire to be the pre-eminent, Hindu faith-based humanitarian organization that serves selflessly with compassion to create a positive impact. We envision and strive for a world in which all people live in harmony free from suffering.

Sewa International’s mission is to serve humanity in distress, aid local communities, run developmental projects for the underserved, and assist people in transformational change through the power of innovation by mobilizing partners, donors, and volunteers.

We accomplish this mission by focusing our efforts towards:

  • Disaster recovery
  • Family and child welfare and
  • Promoting volunteerism
3. Why toilet and hygiene project? What are the project objectives?

Access to toilets is critical for clean and healthy communities:

In 2015, Sewa International started the “#Yes! I can go to School” program, and implemented the first pilot project by installing toilets at four government schools in Jigani, Bengaluru District, in South India. Girl's school attendance increased by 87%.

Toilet use is essential to the survival and development of children across the socio-economic spectrum in India and around the world. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to fecal matter spreads diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.

For women and girls, access to sanitation is crucial for the maintenance of health, safety, and dignity. For women and girls, toilets provide a space to manage menstrual hygiene and are an important measure in mitigating the risk of harassment whilst defecating in the open around dusk and dawn.

Objective: To create a swatch and surakshit Bharath (Clean and safe India) for our girls and women. We are working towards making India, a ODF(open defecation free) zone.

4. How does the organization identify communities or schools to work with?

Criteria for Identification of Schools:

  • Schools constructed on government legal land and having all the construction paperwork documents up to date.
  • No objection certificate issued by the governing authorities for toilet installations
  • Unavailability of functional toilets
  • A higher ratio of girl students in the school
  • Total strength of the school to be a minimum of 50
  • Support from school authorities and local government/municipal bodies during construction and long term maintenance of the toilets
  • Provision for water supply for the newly installed toilets or support from school/government/local bodies/individuals for making such a provision
  • Provision for the sewage system
  • Availability of space within the school campus for installation of toilets

Criteria for identification of Slums/Villages:

  • Slums/Villages officially recognized by the state government
  • No objection certificate issued by the governing authorities for toilet installations
  • Unavailability of functional toilets
  • Minimum of 15-20 families living in the community
  • Families with women and children
  • Availability of space within the community for the installation of toilets
  • Support from local government/municipal bodies/community during construction and long term maintenance of the toilets
  • Provision for water supply for the newly installed toilets or support from government/local bodies for making a provision
  • Provision for the sewage system
5. How is the organization’s work communicated to the public? To donors?

We update the website on weekly basis. We upload our monthly newsletters, blogs, annual reports, and project data excel sheet. We have focused to make the project as transparent as possible for the public and donors.

We publish pre construction and post construction pictures on weekly basis.

We communicate with donors through emails by sending region/project specific need analysis, project execution, and implementation reports.

6. How do you implement the project?

The overall project will be divided into multiple sub projects, each subproject executes the installation of 25-50 toilets in a given pre-selected region. Every subproject adheres to the timelines defined in the below section.

Region-specific Consultants will be hired part-time for every subproject execution. The consultant will coordinate with the local authorities for survey and licensing. The consultant will work with the vendors for material procurement and installation. Sewa field supervisors will closely work with these consultants for supervision and monitoring.

Timeline of each sub project:

  • Capacity Build-up and Initial Survey (15 calendar days);
  • Licensing (15 calendar days);
  • Construction (75 calendar days);
  • Training (15 calendar days)
  • Total = 4 months for completion.
7. Toilet models and installation procedure? Who takes care of the toilets post construction?

Sewa currently has two toilet models with cost-effective bio-digester pit:
Pre-fabricated cement panel portable toilets
Brick & mortar toilets

Installation procedure per toilet:

Portable model installation: This model comprises of pre-casted concrete panels made at factories and transported to the work site. These toilet blocks are assembled with nuts and bolts. This model takes a day to complete the toilet structure with commode installation.

Brick and mortar model installation: This is the traditional style of constructing a toilet with bricks, sand, and cement. This model takes 4-5 days to construct the toilet block with commode installation.

The dimension of the toilet unit: 4ft breadth, 6ft height, and 3.5ft length
Biodigester pit: It takes about 2 days to get the biodigester pit ready. The dimensions of the pit: 6ft depth, 4ft length, and 5ft breadth

Every toilet is installed with proper ventilation, water source, and sewage line Once the toilet model is installed, the final phase of installation includes painting, logo, and handover.

We provide maintenance for the first six months. After six months, we monitor the toilets through monthly inspections. After three years, the school/slum/village takes the ownership and maintenance responsibilities.

8. What are the main challenges? How does SEWA ensure maintenance of the toilets?

a) Lack of water supply for the toilets – From past data, we have noticed that many toilets installed in schools/slums do not have a water supply. Sewa has been doing a detailed survey & need analysis of the identified location for water sources before the toilet installation phase. Sewa is working with the local school authorities/government bodies/donors for providing a water source for these toilets on the need basis.

b) Proper maintenance of toilets post hand over - To overcome this ongoing challenge, Sewa conducts toilet and hygiene awareness programs and workshops for the recipients of these toilets. Sewa identifies local bodies (preferably someone within the community using these toilets) and entrusts them with the responsibility of maintaining the toilets. Sewa provides 1-year maintenance of these toilets. During this maintenance phase, knowledge transfer on long term maintenance of these toilets will be provided to the community to ensure sustainability of the installations. During the maintenance phase, ad-hoc checks at regular intervals are done to ensure that the toilets are well maintained and in good condition.

c) Illegal usage of toilets - Many toilets that have been installed in Slums and rural areas have been illegally used for other purposes in the past. Sewa has been creating awareness programs within the community on the need and the proper usage of these toilets. Sewa also involves the local municipal bodies/government authorities for their support to ensure the proper usage of these toilets.

Our team with the help of volunteers, we assess the condition of toilets every month. We address the issue with school authorities/slum leaders/village head if the toilets are not in good condition during an inspection. We ensure toilets are properly maintained by monitoring and guiding the beneficiaries.

9. Is there a project status/progress reporting format in place?

Sewa team has a defined report generation protocol in place for updating all stakeholders on the progress of the toilet installations. Sewa has a dedicated program office for report generation and circulation.

Sewa program manager has regular weekly calls with all the team members to gather updates for the current week and plan tasks for the coming weeks. Any issues and mitigation steps are also discussed during these weekly calls. These updates are further consolidated and circulated through monthly newsletter updates to all stakeholders via email.

Each donor is emailed a detailed monthly report on the progress of the toilets they have funded with photographs/videos taken during installation, topological details of the identified location, details of direct/indirect beneficiaries.

In addition, Sewa emails annual reports to all stakeholders at the end of the year highlighting the key events of the current year, plan and vision for the upcoming year.

10. How do you measure effectiveness of the program?

After the installation phase, we conduct health and hygiene awareness programs. We teach them the importance of maintaining a healthy environment, keeping the toilets clean and basic hygiene practices for a healthy life.

We conduct free medical camps and collect the data. We cross check with the ward hospitals about the communicable diseases reduction rate post construction of sanitation facilities.

11. What is the bio toilet technology?

According to a National Sample Survey, 12% of low-cost toilets being built in rural and urban areas rely entirely on a refuse-collection pit — a design that ends up leaching nitrates into the groundwater below. Bio-toilets prevent this pollution hazard.

The bio-toilet consists of an easy to install super-structure, a multi chambered matricide bio-digester that holds the bacterial culture and supports the treatment of human waste.

Bio-toilets do not require sewage connectivity and because the process is self-contained, bio-toilets are also maintenance-free.The only by-products of the waste treatment process are pathogen-free water, which is good for gardening.

The slope design of the toilet-pot takes minimum usage of water. We need only 1.5 litre to 2 litres of water for flushing the excreta in bio-toilets. So, we are not providing internal water tap to the units. Extra water usages for flushing inside the bio-toilet will destroy the bio-toilet working system.

The sludge settled at the bottom of the digestion tank has to be cleared once in two years. If the effluent is odourless and does not attract flies indicates efficient working of the anaerobic digesters in the tank. A minimum retention of 30 days is required for anaerobic digestion in bio-toilets while a septic tank provides retention for 2-7 days. Hence, the effluent from the septic tank must have its main treatment in a sock pit/filter while effluent from a digester can be discharged directly in a drain system.

12. How to donate/volunteer for toilet and hygiene project?

Donations made in US Dollars

If donating by Cheque Payable to Sewa International Mail to Sewa International P. O. Box 820867, Houston, TX 77282-0867 USA

It is very important that you write on the bottom left of the cheque ‘Toilet and Hygiene project for the girl child’. Also, write down your email address on your cheque So, Sewa International can email you a receipt.

If donating through the website:
Please log on to Donate for Toilet and Hygiene Project

Donations Made in Indian Rupees

Donating by Cheque Make a personal cheque payable to “Sewa International” and please write our project name on the bottom left of the cheque ‘Toilet and Hygiene project for the girl child’ Mail to Sewa International, 49, Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi-110002, India

Donating by bank transfer
Name of the NGO as appear in Bank: Sewa International
Bank Type: SB
Account No. : 10080533304
Bank Name: State Bank of India
City: Delhi
Branch: Jhandewala Extn Branch Code - 9371
IFSC Code: SBIN0009371
Swift Code: SBININBB550

Volunteer: https://toilets-sewausa.org/pages/contact-us