geospatial for sanitation shelter associates

Case Study: Spatial Data Analysis for Household Sanitation Planning in Pune

India is the largest open-defecating nation in the world, with more than 600 million having no access to sanitation facilities. In Maharashtra alone, more than 11 million people are affected by sanitation-related issues in these poor communities and slums. Sanitation problems are symptomatic of larger and more prevalent issues associated with inadequate infrastructure in these often-neglected neighbourhoods of the country.

Established in 1993 in Pune, Shelter Associates (SA) is a Civil Society Organization that aims to convert informal settlements into housing societies for the poor. Their goal is to provide cleaner and safer environments to retain the community spirit and give access to basic services like water, sanitation, electricity, and so on. The launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 gave an impetus to SA’s work, driving it towards its “One Home, One Toilet” (OHOT) model.

Project Focus


City sanitation plans for informal settlements in India – if they exist – are frequently based on secondary data. They do not contain a detailed understanding of the existing infrastructure or topography. This data forms the foundation of the delivery of any service at the city level, empowering urban local bodies (ULBs) to explore innovative solutions, carry out micro-level interventions, and bridge the gaps by providing housing and sanitation facilities.

The Solution

Community-led sanitation solutions based on an inclusive approach were made the pillars of the household sanitation planning programme in Pune, which uses an open data-agnostic platform for the collation, analysis and study of relevant ground information. The efficient utilization of Geospatial data helps map informal settlements lacking household sanitation and for studying any existing drainage networks, besides providing a comprehensive, real-time dataset needed to target slums for intervention strategically.

The data is subsequently published on Google Earth, enabling open viewership for all. In addition to providing a portable dataset, the platform also offers accuracy and cross-querying tools that allow different teams to integrate data effectively. This helps strategically target those households that lack sanitation, prioritizing the efficient delivery of toilets to households with the greatest impact. They can efficiently coordinate community mobilization activities and accurately monitor and track toilet construction processes.

Key Benefits

  • Setting up a robust spatial data platform helps pinpoint gaps in delivery and families lacking access to basic sanitation services
  • Construction of individual toilets facilitated
  • A forum was created for discussion on sanitation issues in the country, thus driving awareness