Solution Exchange Consolidated Reply: Reward mechanisms promoting successful urban WES projects from WEDC, UK: Experiences

Compiled by Pankaj Kumar S., Resource Person; additional research provided by Ramya Gopalan, Research Associate 5 July 2006

Original Query: Sharadbala Joshi, Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC),Loughborough University, UK

Posted: 16 June 2006

I have primarily been involved with urban projects which aimed at enhancing sustainable access to water supply and sanitation at local government levels. I am currently investigating reasons for the slow and difficult transfer or up scaling of good practices in urban areas. As the exchanges through Solution Exchange show, there are numerous interventions, including water and sanitation projects managed in a sustainable manner by women’s self-help groups, which have resulted in sustainable improvements in the lives of the poor in urban and rural areas. These models, if shared, can be adapted or replicated in other parts of India and other locations with similar contexts. However, knowledge about such good practices is primarily known amongst those associated with such interventions or networks and organizations with which such individuals and organizations are associated.

I am currently looking at processes for identification and recognition of good practices that are followed by local, national or award giving organizations for sustainable development approaches that can be adapted or transferred to similar contexts. I am interested in identifying why many organizations and individuals do not seek recognition through award giving organizations.

In the context of the above, and with specific reference to the WES sector, I would be grateful if members could share any experiences they are familiar with on the following:
Reward mechanisms that have been used effectively to promote and disseminate examples of sustainable access to water supply and sanitation in urban areas.
Relevance of factors such as social acceptability of awards or non-monetary recognition; the status or legitimacy of the award giving organization; eligibility requirements; application and selection processes etc.

Responses received with thanks from:

1. Digbijoy Bhowmik, Government of India-UNDP Project 'National Strategy for Urban Poor', New Delhi
2. Sumeeta Banerji, United Nations, New Delhi
3. Nafisa Barot, Utthan, Ahmedabad
4. S. Ramesh Sakthivel, WES-Net India, c/o Plan International, New Delhi
5. Avnish Jolly, Servants of The People Society, Chandigarh
6. A. Gurunathan, DHAN Foundation, Madurai
7. Hirenkumar Rajendrabhai Patel, PRAVAH, Ahmedabad
8. Arunabha Majumder, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata
9. Debasish De, Delhi Minorities Commission, Government of NCT Delhi, New Delhi
10. Jyotsna Bapat, Senior Independent Consultant, Environment and Disaster Management, New Delhi
11. Sharadbala Joshi, Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC), Loughborough University, UK
 Further contributions are welcome!

Summary of Responses

Discussions on Solution Exchange have repeatedly shown that while there are a huge number of successful experiences in India’s WES sector, few were scaled-up in other locations. Members intensely debated the causes for this phenomenon in response to a query on how reward mechanisms in urban areas could help promotion and dissemination of good experiences. They also deliberated on the social acceptability of awards in this context.

Respondents underlined that scaling-up of successful experiences is a function of many factors. Firstly, implementing agencies can mobilise resources for scaling-up useful practices only if they monitor government spending and undertake advocacy for ensuring its proper allocation. Scaling up also depends on the ability of implementing agencies to influence policies/programs and to bring about institutional reforms within government systems. Participants also emphasised the significance of convergence, collaboration, and information exchange in this context.

Members brought out one of the main reasons for lack of dissemination - people who implement programmes do not generally realise the importance of documentation. Such agencies also often have insufficient advocacy and presentations skills. Consequently, they can mobilise neither the funds nor the innovative ideas for wider diffusion of good practices.

Respondents outlined the role of incentives in scaling up good practices and pointed out that both explicit and implicit mechanisms of rewards could ensure that motivation levels remain high. They gave the example of urban toilet complexes, where profits were an explicit source of incentive. Other implicit incentives could be allotment of land for toilet complexes, free water, electricity, underground drainage connection or lease agreements with local bodies. In another scheme, public utilities received incentives
in the form of reduction of effective interest rates and interest free loans of up to 1% of project cost if they adopted innovations.

Different sets of rewards at different stages of project implementation are needed. At the initial stage, incentives to encourage communities to own and manage the programme and recover maintenance costs would be useful, as an experience from the slums in Bangladesh showed. Later, when projects have been successfully set up, awards such as  Nirmal Gram Puruskar and Sant Gadge Baba Swachhata Abhiyan would motivate communities to engage in better Operation and Management (O&M).

Another incentive mechanism, mentioned by members is through publicity and publishing of success stories and fellowships for documenting these case studies. In another case, the city government rewarded urban local bodies for protection and enhancement of the environment. Participants also suggested that schemes could divert the interest repaid by local bodies to IEC activities, further adding value to projects.

On the relevance of factors, such as the social acceptability of awards, respondents pointed out that often, non-monetary compensations were sufficient to encourage adoption and dissemination of successful experiences. To illustrate this, members cited a community toilet and bathroom building programme that gave beneficiaries space to design their own toilets and bathrooms.

Members indicated that in addition to financial incentives that come with awards, social recognition with its long-term implication is a motivating factor. Such recognition encourages stakeholders to contribute to better operation and management of assets created. Respondents also discussed individuals/agencies could be encouraged to apply for awards if they
adequately address the following constraints:

  • Information about awards is not available.
  • Application process demands too much investment of time and resources.
  • Information required in applications requires much processing.
  • Awards give recognition to individuals while many stakeholders are responsible for the intervention.
  • The award process perceived as being biased and politicised.
  • The 'prize money' is too little.

In this regard, respondents suggested that an analysis of institutionalisation of awards in non-WES sectors could give important learnings on creating incentives for wider dissemination. Members mentioned the Citigroup Social Entrepreneurs Award as an example of this institutionalisation. Some participants also cautioned the group about the dangers of over-incentivising. In one case, attractive incentives led to indiscriminate construction of toilets. Since communities were not part of the process from the beginning, people did ultimately not use these toilets.

Similarly, in another scheme, incentives led to large-scale plantations but lack of involvement of local communities led to the failure of the plantation. Accordingly, members felt that in addition to award mechanisms, the role of facilitators in involving communities, and disseminating information was crucial. In conclusion, members identified documentation, policy advocacy and dissemination as major factors that would lead to dissemination of successful experiences on a large scale. Sensitivity to monetary and non-monetary incentives and to the stage at which the project is would further enhance dissemination opportunities. The discussion revealed that institutionalisation of awards could keep the involvement of
people in mind, as over-incentivising had its own dangers.

Comparative Experiences

Reduced Interest Rates as Incentives (from Digbijoy Bhowmik, GOI-UNDP NSUP Project, New Delhi)

The National Capital Region Planning Board offers a performance linked incentive scheme for public utilities in the form of reduction of effective interest rates. The Board also provides interest free loans up to 1% of the project cost if the project adopts innovations.

Rewarding Social Entrepreneurs (from Sumeeta Banerji, United Nations, New Delhi)

Citigroup initiated the Micro Entrepreneur Award in association with the Global Micro Entrepreneur Award (GMA) program launched by the U.N. across 38 countries to mark the International Year of Microcredit 2005. It recognizes and honors leadership, entrepreneurial skills and best practices by individual micro entrepreneurs in India. Entrepreneurs in both rural and urban areas across the country are eligible.

From Ramesh Sakthivel, WES-Net India, c/o Plan International, New Delhi

Alternative Award Mechanisms

There are all sorts of reward mechanisms. One such is the building of urban toilet complexes. NGOs or SHGs, which undertake the building of toilets, may be “rewarded” in various manners. They might get the profits from managing the complex or have the land for building toilet complexes allotted to them. They may also receive free water, electricity or underground drainage connection to the toilets, or even have the local governing body give them the complexes on lease.

Rewarded through Cost Recovery

In Bangladesh slums, some NGOs helped the local community recover the cost of owning and managing water points. The NGOs assisted in ensuring a supply of water in a sustainable manner. However, this type of initiative requires an established management mechanism and the governments overall policy in the sector is also crucial for determining its success.

Sant Gadge Baba Swachchata Abhiyan

Also known as the Clean Villages Campaign, it aims to educate and motivate rural communities. Each year villages in different Gram Panchayats in Maharastra are evaluated by a team of experts using a set of criteria and awarded cash prizes. Villages interested in participating in the competition register undertake to implement various specified work, using their own resources which leads to an environmentally clean village.

Nirmal Gram Puraskaar

To add vigour to the TSC, in June 2003, GoI initiated an incentive scheme for fully sanitized and open efecation free Gram Panchayats, Blocks, and Districts called the 'Nirmal Gram Puraskar'. The incentive pattern is based on population criteria. The incentive provision is for PRIs as well as individuals and organizations that are the driving force for full sanitation coverage.

From  Hirenkumar Rajendrabhai Patel, PRAVAH, Ahmedabad

Public Recognition of Work

In Gujarat, the organization Charkha helps place articles about development projects in the area for regional newspapers to publish. Charkha collects case studies and stories about projects from development workers. This activity provides public recognition to individual development workers and projects, motivating them to write more about the good practices and gives civil society an opportunity to learn more about development projects in their area.

Fellowships to Disseminate Field Experiences

Charkha, an organization working in Gujarat is implementing a fellowship program for development workers. The organization assigns individuals different topics and they write about their field level experiences on that topic. Then Charkha takes on the responsibility of trying to get recognition for the case studies through its links with local media and also helps get books collecting field experiences published.

Awarding Urban Local Bodies (from Arunabha Majumder, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata)

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board recently initiated an environmental excellence award for Urban Local Bodies (ULB) or municipalities. ULBs compete based on their efforts in the areas of environmental protection, improved environmental awareness, conditions and cleanliness and the development of green areas and plantation.

Non-monetary compensation (from Jyotsna Bapat, Senior Independent Consultant, Environment and Disaster Management, New Delhi

The USAID Fire project in Agra designed community toilets and bathing areas keeping the needs of the community in mind. This became an incentive for community members to continue using the toilets and bathing areas. The project used this non-monetary compensation approach to ensure effective and sustained use of the created assets.
From Debasish De, Delhi Minorities Commission, Government of NCT Delhi, New Delhi Poorly Managed Award Programme

A youth club in West Bengal to promote grass root programs implemented an internal reward system for its members. The system rewarded youths based on the number of low cost latrines in households. However, there was no mechanism to ensure installation was actually necessary and some youth provided households that did not need or want toilets. This resulted in some households failing to use the toilets and huge monetary losses.

Award Programme Fails to Involve Community

Using money from the Indira Priyadarshini Brikhshamitra award, some CBOs in West Bengal decided to implement a plantation program in an aid area of Bankura (locally called Tanr). The program took 100 hectares of land and independently planted plants. However, the program did not seek community involvement so when community participation was required to sustain the plantation program they were not motivated to do so, leading to a failure of the plantation.

Reward Scheme for Water Project (from Ramya Gopalan, Research Associate)

In 2002, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) launched the Reduced Water Rate Deposit Scheme to raise capital for water works projects. TMC offered consumer two options, along with additional facilities; the options were:

1) One time payment, covering 60 months of service, or

2) Monthly payment, subject to the projected 15% annual fee increase for 55 months.

Unfortunately, less than 25% of households choose to participate.

Related Resources

Recommended Organizations

From Digbijoy Bhowmik, Government of India-UNDP Project ‘National Strategy for Urban Poor,’ New Delhi National Capital Region Planning Board, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India

Serves as a financial institution offering a performance linked incentive scheme for public utilities in the form of reduction of effective interest rates

Incentive Scheme for Innovative Projects in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the Counter Magnet Areas (CMAs)
The National Capital Region Planning Board
Scheme provides an interest free loan of up to 1% of a project’s cost, if the project adopts certain innovative measures- mostly WES initiatives

From Sumeeta Banerji, United Nations, New Delhi
Micro Entrepreneur Award, Citigroup Foundation

Award recognizes entrepreneurial skills & best performance to emerge from below poverty line to self-sustaining micro-entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneurs Award

The Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and UNDP India
Recognizes and awards leading social entrepreneurs in India; gives monetary awards and opportunities to engage and strengthen global decision takers from various sectors

World Bank Development Marketplace
Click here to view Page
A competitive grant program that funds innovative, small-scale development projects that deliver results and show potential to be expanded or replicated

Nirmal Gram Puraskar (from Ramesh Sakthivel, WES-Net India, c/o Plan International, New Delhi)
This scheme was initiated as an incentive for fully sanitized and open defecation free Gram Panchayats, Blocks, and Districts and it is based largely on population criteria

Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Awards for Good Practices (from Avnish Jolly, Servants of The People Society, Chandigarh)

New international environment award for achievements in promoting socially equitable & sustainable development in the region, also sharing lessons learned & knowledge gained

From Pankaj Kumar S, Resource Person
Rural Pro Poor Innovation Challenge (RPPIC)
Joint CGAP & IFAD Fund gives awards up to USD 50,000 to microfinance organizations that develop innovative methodologies to deepen rural poverty outreach and impact

Asian Innovation Awards
 For individuals & companies with new ideas, methods technologies, or apply existing knowledge in creative, new ways to improve the quality of life or enhance productivity.

National Innovation Foundation
Provides institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling-up grassroots green innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities

European Energy Award
Allows municipalities to identify strengths, weaknesses and potential for improvement & implement effectively energy efficient measures, the success of these efforts is awarded

Stockholm World Water Week
Rewards efforts in improving the water environment, bringing water & basic sanitation to those in need, & increasing knowledge of water through groundbreaking research

Recommended Documentation
WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation(JMP) (from Avnish Jolly, Servants of The People Society, Chandigarh)
Provides a snapshot of water supply and sanitation worldwide using information available from different sources, focusing on challenges, future needs and prospects in the sector
Inventive Villagers: Innovative Approaches to Total Sanitation in Maharashtra (from Ramesh Sakthivel, WES-NetIndia, c/o Plan International, New Delhi)
Downloaded from the Maharashtra Water Supply & Sanitation Department Website, available at: (Size: 907 KB)
Outlines two schemes and their impacts, describes five types of innovations i.e. technology, procurement, community mobilization, monitoring and financing

Maharashtra Water Sector Improvement Project (from Ramya Gopalan, Research Associate)
Discusses the State's capacity building for multi-sectoral planning, development, sustainable management of the water resources, irrigation service delivery & productivity

Recommended Contacts

Viraf Mehta, Partners in Change (PIC)
C-75 South Extension Part II, New Delhi –110049. Tel: 91 11 51642348-51;
Momin Jaan, UNDP
55, Lodhi Estate, P.O. Box 3059, New Delhi 110 003; Tel: 91 11 24628877
Recommended for details regarding the Micro Entrepreneurs Award promoted by Citigroup together with PIC and UNDP

Responses in Full

Digbijoy Bhowmik, Government of India-UNDP Project, 'National Strategy for Urban Poor'; New Delhi

While the following example is restricted only to public sector agencies active in the National Capital Region of India, the model can also be applied to financiers who provide for capital requirements to the private and civil society sectors in the case of WES projects. The National Capital Region Planning Board (a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India) which also serves as a financial institution offers a performance linked incentive scheme for public utilities in the form of reduction of effective interest rates (see Also, the same institution has a scheme for providing interest free loan of up to 1% of the project cost in case of adoption of certain measure of innovation, mostly in the case of WES initiatives (see

Given the penchant for 'hardware' in line-based service utilities and Government Departments dealing with urban development, a scheme like usually tends to leave out IEC activities (including dissemination practices) from within its scope. However, this can also be included by allowing the savings in repayment of interest to be diverted to IEC activities, maybe using a mechanism of awards. In essence, the money that would have gone towards paying interest on loan for a WES project now goes into an award for a civil society organisation that adds value to the infrastructure created by educating the users about it, so that its optimal use can be maximised and maybe greater value-added projects such as participatory models in O&M can be evolved, again further reducing costs for line utilities. At the very least, this can be an example of where the incentive (if monetary) could come from in such an initiative.

Sumeeta Banerji, United Nations, New Delhi

Your question is a brilliant one and perhaps of implication to other sectors as well, where several excellent pilots exist, but the up scaling/ transfer of good practices does not take place. This issue has been of concern to me as well and I have tried to ask project partners why they end a successful project with a project report and don’t invest in the next most important stage i.e. dissemination. However, the reasons cited are always lack of funds to undertake wider dissemination, limited outreach through workshops, lack of innovative ideas on how best to communicate a good practice! I do believe that in the development sector as a whole, especially in a country as vast as India, where there is no dirth of
innovation and pilot initiatives, one simple way of sharing lessons learned on successful projects and failures, is through a mechanism such as Solution Exchange.

Whereas I understand that you are looking for effective reward mechanisms in the urban water and sanitation sector, it may be worthwhile to study closely how awards and recognition of initiatives in other sectors have been institutionalized. Some that come to mind are the ‘Citigroup Micro Enterpreneur Award’, the Social Entrepreneurs Award, and the World Bank Development Marketplace. You may wish to get details on eligibility requirements, application procedures etc. from these organizations as well.
The Micro Entrepreneur Award initiated by Citigroup to recognise and honour leadership, entrepreneurial skills and best practices of the individual micro entrepreneur in India has been expanded to include rural and urban areas across the country. This award was instituted by Citigroup, in association with the Global Micro Entrepreneur Award (GMA) program launched by the UN across 38 countries to mark the International Year of Microcredit 2005. In India, Partners in Change (PIC) and UNDP is partnering Citigroup for this award. I have participated as observer in the selection process and know that Citigroup has developed several criteria and detailed procedures including survey questionnaires for making
selections for the award. You may wish to contact Viraf Mehta at PIC or Momin Jaan at UNDP for more details.
 Hope this is useful.

Nafisa Barot, Utthan, Ahmedabad

This is Nafisa Barot from Utthan, which has worked on the issue of access to safe water, sanitation and security from the gender perspective. Our experience strongly suggests that for up scaling we strongly require - to influence policies, programs, institutional reform (sp. at the government level), convergence, partnership and collaboration, information exchange system, capacity building and organizing, monitoring, feed back and redressal mechanism.

Look at the examples of national watershed program and swajaldhara. The above are the lessons learnt from those, who have tried to demonstrate on a scale and then have been involved in policy program formulation as well as on follow up of its implementation. Resources to a large extent could be mobilized only when we are able to monitor the Govt. spending and do effective advocacy for ensuring where from different funds could be mobilized into the pool. The fact is that there has been too much of compartmentalization and division with the fear of losing the priority of the issue. E.g. Total sanitation program (TSC) has separate resources only for sanitation. The logic was to ensure that sanitation do not
fall into the crack while having the cumulative funds along with water. But the result is that this separation has not yielded the desired result because the fact on ground is that sanitation is being implemented without safe and reliable water supply as well as other way round. And hence both have to be implemented together.

Pravah, which is the network in Gujarat working on the issue of safe water and sanitation from the human rights and gender perspective, did face the same problem initially, where its partners wanted resources to implement and did not want to invest the energy into advocacy. Today, many have come around to believe that, the way for up scaling is what one has stated above.

S. Ramesh Sakthivel, WES-Net India, c/o Plan International, New Delhi

The reward mechanisms of different types are used in some of the programmes across India with or without special mention to the use of it. When we look at the issue in a different perspective, such supports/rewards are being provided either at the start or end of projects. The urban toilet complexes are one such example, where profits from management of toilets, along with other concessions such as allotment of land for building toilet complexes, free water, electricity and underground drainage connection to the toilets or in some cases, even handing over the toilet complexes on lease by the local bodies encourage SHGs/NGOs/Contractors to operate the services effectively. From the past experiences, it is very clear that these supports are very crucial to the success of the sanitation interventions. While doing so, it is also necessary to ensure that these are not misused by vested
interest. Maintenance of such initiatives through SHGs/youth groups/residents welfare societies representing the community as a whole could lead to sense of ownership and result in plough back of the profits to other infrastructure needs of slums.

Others like, water points owned and managed (including cost recovery for maintenance) by the community sunk with the help of NGOs have helped to provide water supply on a sustainable manner in some of the slums in Bangladesh. However, the successes of such initiatives depend upon the type of support, management mechanism established and the overall policy of the Governments in the sector.
Reward initiatives like Sant Gadge Baba Swachchata Abhiyan of Govt. Maharastra and the recent Nirmal Gram Puraskaar of Govt. of India also have significant impact on the sanitation promotion. The rewards provided after successful completion of the initiatives may need a very strong participation drive to involve communities right from the initial stages of the project, which some times difficult to achieve universally.

Therefore, rewards/supports of any form, if targeted in the right manner, can produce very effective results. The support/reward provided at the initial stages of the project, backed up by enabling policies, can be very critical for promoting sanitation and water supply components as much as rewards provided at the successful completion of initiatives. I request that these aspects be also considered while documenting the lessons learnt towards scaling up.

Avnish Jolly, Servants of The People Society, Chandigarh

The following report may be helpful for you on water supply and sanitation in urban areas. This WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) provides a snapshot of water supply and sanitation worldwide at the turn of the millennium using information available from different sources. The link accesses challenges, future needs and prospects in the sector.

Further application and selection processes are very difficult. Personal visit and interaction is required. People who are actually working are bad in advocacy and presentation. Most of them are do not understand the value of documentation. You may find this useful:  APFED Awards for Good Practices

A. Gurunathan, Dhan Foundation, Madurai

Either World Bank's 'Water and Sanitation journal' or ADB's 'Urban case studies in India', if I rightly remember documented successful Urban Project implemented by community organizations in India during 1999-2000. The success stories of SPMS (Sree Padmavathy Mahila Abhividhya Sangham) based in Tirupathi is replicable.

Hirenkumar Rajendrabhai Patel, PRAVAH, Ahmedabad

In Gujarat there is one organization Charkha which promotes developmental news in News Paper. For that they implement various program, they collect various case studies from the developmental worker and publish it in regional news papers with the name of developmental worker. This way the developmental worker will get motivated to write more about the good practices and civil society become aware about the various developmental work. Another program implemented is the fellowship program in which they assign different topics and individual have to write real field level experience on given topic. In this process main responsibility of Charkha is media linkages and publishing books on case studies.

Arunabha Majumder, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata

West Bengal Pollution Control Board has initiated programme to select Urban Local Bodies (Municipalities) who are working for protection of environment, betterment of environmental condition, environmental awareness generation, environmental cleanliness, development of greenaries and plantation etc, for Award of Excellence . The award was given in 2004 and 2005. It has generated a good competitive spirit amongst ULBs. WBPCB also selects Industries and NGOs for award of Excellence every year.

Debasish De, Delhi Minorities Commission, Government of NCT Delhi, New Delhi

I have worked with the community for seven years and what I have found, motivation and monitoring are two major aspects of community development work. I agree with the method of reward mechanism. But, I have seen many examples of greed for the rewards which has hampered the dedication for developmental work. In TSC programme, the youth clubs in East Midnapore, West Bengal were given the responsibilities to implement. There was internal reward system to promote the programme in the grassroots level. What they did, they installed low cost latrines in many households, whether it is necessary or not. Some well-performed youth clubs have received the rewards too. Therefore, after sometime, some households stopped using the latrines, deserting it. They went back to their original practice of defecation on the fields, roadside areas, banks of the canals etc. There was a huge loss of money.

Again, in Bankura, West Bengal under Indira Priyadarshini Brikhshamitra award, some CBOs have started plantation programmes in the arid area of Bankura, locally called Tanr. The area was far away from the village. So we intervened into this. 100 hectare of arid land was taken under plantation programme. There was no community involvement, no motivation and no monitoring. At the end of winter the plants dried up and there was no method adopted for the watering. Community would have helped in this work but they too were not involved. And finally most of the plants died due to severe water demand.  

Therefore, it is necessary to involve the community while you are working with the community and first motivate them for adopting the methods and then start your work. Later, monitor the activities continuously and the reward mechanism. Then one can ensure the meaningful implementation of the developmental process in the grassroots level.

Jyotsna Bapat, Independent Consultant, New Delhi

I am aware of the USAID Fire project in Agra where the reward mechanism was very simple and participatory. The community toilets and bathing areas were planned for the slums in the neighborhood of various non prominent historic monuments of the city, with the long term objective of promoting tourism to these monuments and training the local community to become guides for he tourists.

The first step was to environmentally clean up these slum neighborhoods. Towards this end the community toilets bathing and washing areas were to be created. The community was involved in the site location as well as the micro design of the community toilets. The design involved a bathing platform with a small shelf inside the bathing space and a hook or two on the wall to hang clothes. It is these minute details in the interior design of the bathing areas and the community toilets, that worked as a reward for the community members and an incentive for the community members to continue to using the toilets and the bathing and washing areas of the communal toilets.  Thus the non monetary compensation in respect for their opinion and wishes in the design of the toilets that worked very effectively as a regard for the community and ensured sustained use of the created assets.

Sharadbala Joshi, Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC), Loughborough University, UK

Thank you for your observations and suggestions. I add a few comments for further interactions, sharing of experiences and comments.

a) My study of rewards (in the form of awards) in the various sectors indicates that since the seventies, recognition through awards, especially for outcomes through partnerships and/or participation, has become one of the means for identifying interventions that can be adapted in or transferred to similar situations.  I would categorise the very good examples suggested by Sumeeta Banerji and Ramesh Sakhtival as 'awards that recognise the achievement of a desired goal of the award giver (in the cause of development)' and a move away from supporting interventions for achieving specific goals. In the examples cited, the recognition is given by leaders at well-publicised ceremonies. The recipients therefore get the financial incentives of an award as well as public recognition and related social-prestige and pride that have long-term implications. Such recognition is more attractive because it abstains from putting up an individual leader or facilitator on a pedestal for outcomes that would not have been possible without the cooperation and participation of other stakeholders. It may also contribute to better operation and management of assets created.

b) These cases also reiterate the factors identified by Nafisa Barot for accelerating up scaling of good practices in ways where the emphasis is on ownership and sustainability of interventions rather than on creation of physical infrastructure. Nafisa, from my observations in urban areas, I believe that even with the enabling environment (in terms of policies, institutional reforms and functioning, convergence mechanisms), facilitators would play a very important role in organising for monitoring and information exchange, and in building partnerships and capacities.

I suggest some other possible reasons why few NGOs, individuals and other organisations (who have made significant difference in their areas of work) submit applications or get nominated for awards for members consideration:

  • Information about awards is not available or
  • Application process requires too much investment of time and resources
  • Information required in applications requires additional effort for reformatting information about interventions
  • Many stakeholders are involved in an intervention and the recognition is for individuals
  • The award process is perceived as being biased and politicised
  • 'Prize money' is too little

Many thanks to all who contributed to this query!

 If you have further information to share on this topic, please send it to Solution Exchange for WES-Net at with the subject heading “Re: [se-wes] Query: Reward mechanisms promoting successful urban WES projects, from WEDC, UK (Experiences). Additional Response.”

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