Women Changemakers and the changing face of Sanitation in Odisha

Just like employing women in the waste management value chain has enabled a step-change in sanitation service delivery in Odisha,  equipping them with the innovative digital tools employed in the State will enhance empowerment and also, service delivery outcomes

Salila Jena, a woman changemaker, was facilitated by President Droupadi Mormu for her work under Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G). 43-year-old Salila of Odisha is a pioneer of inclusivity for her work in involving women in community-managed sanitation — she has worked to generate awareness about safe sanitation practices, assess household waste management practices, and oversee the construction of toilets within her community. She was recognised for her consistent efforts in faecal sludge and septage management (FSSM) in her village, Akarapada in Jajpur district.

Salila is a member of the Akarapada Women’s Self-Help Group (WSHG).

22 years ago, on the eve of International Women’s Day in 2001, Odisha launched ‘Mission Shakti’, a program that wanted to catalyze Women’s Self-Help Groups in the State by involving them in various socio-economic activities. As part of Mission Shakti, nearly 70 lakh women have been organized into 6 lakh groups across the State.

Around the same time, the Sanitation sector began evolving to meet the expectations of global trends and on-ground realities. This resulted in Odisha’s 115 ULBs having to come to grips with changes on three fronts:
(a) understanding sanitation as a civic service that includes the whole service chain, from containment to safe disposal of waste generated;
(b) locating the most appropriate and cost-effective technology; and
(c) untangling complex management arrangements, based on partnerships and mandates for community engagement, especially engagement with women.

Odisha’s ULBs realized they needed a large skilled workforce to provide services, manage facilities and support the process of sustainable sanitation. Hence, skilling and engaging women in the sector was a win-win situation for both the community and the service-providing ULBs. Odisha’s strategy to employ women in the waste management value chain has helped make sanitation more systemically inclusive; more than 35,000 urban SHGs in Odisha provided the base to operationalise this strategy.

Inclusion in the Sanitation service delivery value chain


SHG groups, including transgenders under Mission Shakti, have been formally inducted to play a crucial role in ensuring inclusive and safe sanitation service delivery. Through service contracts, they are involved in the operation and maintenance of community toilets; they are incharge of collection of sanitation user fees from citizens; and they are also employed in waste treatment plants — like faecal sludge treatment plants (FSTP), material recovery centers (MRC), micro-composting centers (MCC) and construction and demolition waste (CDW) plants. In some cities, they are also involved in operating cesspool vehicles for safe emptying and transportation of toilet waste.

Involving women in sanitation management not only contributes to their economic progress, but also makes them crucial partners in development. They are also trained to undertake awareness campaigns and data collection for insanitary toilets, desludging practices, demand generation for mechanised desludging, etc. As such, they can empower excluded groups to understand and access State sanitation services for better sanitation outcomes.

Since the WSHG (and Transgender groups) are retained by the ULB using a standardized performance management contract, lack of renewal or delays in contract renewal can cause uncertainty amongst the SHGs. To solve this problem, payments are now being automated and monitored by a call center, also managed by women.

Engagement with sanitation service delivery has assured a steady income stream for these women — a field study showed that this income is largely spent on food and education of children. Indicating a rising sense of awareness, the women have also demanded for health insurance and retirement benefits.

The work of the WSHG within the sanitation value chain is also gaining acceptance within the community because of its association with the government. Interestingly, the use of safety gears, PPEs and sanitation kits by the workers also contribute to the acceptance as it lends an air of formality to the profession.

Working with the government has also resulted in improved agency and confidence in the transgenders and other vulnerable groups. Perhaps for these very reasons, women from other castes, besides the Scheduled Castes, who were traditionally employed in the sanitation work, were also engaged in the FSTPs.

The Role of Tech in enabling women’s empowerment


Over 20 years ago on International Women’s Day, the launch of Mission Shakti created massive momentum for women in Odisha. In the last decade, the involvement of WSHGs in sanitation service delivery has been of vital value to the State. Today, given the strides Odisha has taken in improving quality of governance and service delivery in urban areas through the 5T principles of Transparency, Technology, Teamwork, Time, and Transformation (5T), it is important to equip them with the tools necessary to enhance service outcomes.

To this end, Odisha has already implemented a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), called SUJOG, to deliver municipal services in the State. A solution to provide digital FSSM services was also launched in late 2021, on the same platform —this service is called SUJOG-FSSM. Currently, as SUJOG-FSSM scales across the State, it is important to be intentional about the value it will provide to women stakeholders in the service delivery value chain.

Take the case of Manju, for example — she is the President of the Jeevan Jyoti ALF (Area Level Federation) and has been working in the FSTP in the region for 2.5years. Her responsibilities include monitoring plant activities and reporting technical issues to the ULB.

This communication with the ULB is primarily through Whatsapp. Tracking of desludging vehicles is also done through Whatsapp calls to the citizen who requested the service. Additionally, a daily log of the desludging vehicles that enter the plant is maintained using manual registries — Manju is tasked with compiling these every fortnight and sending it to Sulochana, a SHG member who works as the Call Centre Operator, who then compiles this data for analysis by her supervisors.

“There is no longer any need to maintain records in excel because everything can be tracked from the platform and accordingly reports can be generated,” says Sulochana, who has been using SUJOG-FSSM since it was implemented in the State, “We also no longer need to call citizens to ask for their feedback on the services provided, because they can provide their comments and feedback through the platform.”

With SUJOG-FSSM, the State is able to digitize and automate many parts of the value chain, enabling the recording of real-time transactional data. This means that plant monitoring reports and vehicle tracking reports are automatically generated and sent to the ULB, reducing redundancy in the work of the plant operator, who has additional responsibilities like housekeeping, facility maintenance, etc. The data from the digital platform also auto-generates reports and dashboards for administrative oversight and decision-making — a gender-intentional/ transformational State can use this data as evidence to reform programs and policies.

For instance, business model viability of private desludging vehicle operators is an area of concern in sanitation service delivery — high license fees of private providers and the relatively poor coordination with the ULB leads to many operational difficulties. Whereas cesspool vehicle operations in Dhenkanal have been entirely outsourced to a WSHG, which has proven very effective. Automated data from real-time service delivery monitoring will enable decision-makers to weigh the cost-benefit of replicating the Dhenkanal cesspool-truck model in other districts to provide more efficient and cost-effective services. This decision could also lead to the employment and integration of more women in the service delivery value chain, and for community-based models to emerge in sanitation service delivery.

Additionally, for Odisha, a State focused on implementing city-wide inclusive sanitation, data on sanitation services can enable assessment of women’s role in service access, and enable gender-transformative programs to accelerate women’s participation in important household decision-making. The State can also use the data to ensure distributive benefits of service delivery by ensuring that the most vulnerable groups have access to safe and timely sanitation services, and community and school facilities meet the required hygiene standards for girls and women.

The digitisation of systems leads to efficiency gains for all members of the value chain in the short term — automating systems deskills the job, and also contributes to the digital skilling of those who adopt the system (for example, collection of sanitation user charges). This enables the engagement of SHG women from low-income and low-educational backgrounds in sanitation services. In the medium term, accrued data can enable decision making — including on ensuring gender intentional/ transformational outcomes in sanitation services. In the long term, the visibility into the value chain can help resolve operational bottlenecks and plan financial resources, such that the ULB is self-sufficient, and able to remunerate and provide benefits to the WSHG it employs.

At the end of the day, service delivery is also enhanced — implementing a digital system in a space where in-person communication continues to hold more credibility ensures that women from urban households, and even from far-off rural towns, will now be able to request services for their homes and track the service delivery digitally. Women’s ability to access services paves the way for household economic decision-making, which strengthens their role at the household and community-level.

Equipping WSHG with digital tools to record real-time transactional data will not only have positive outcomes for service delivery and governance, but also for ensuring women’s socio-economic empowerment and progress in the State.

Just like employing women in the waste management value chain has enabled a step-change in sanitation service delivery in Odisha, their adoption of digital tools will pave the way for transforming sanitation outcomes. It will also go a long way in empowering and skilling these valuable service delivery stakeholders.

Scroll to Top

Prashanth Chandramouleeswaran

Associate Director – PFM Mission

Prashanth has close to 15 years of experience in the social sector where his work has spanned across program management, outreach, government and donor partnerships, marketing communications and capacity building. He has worked extensively in the urban service delivery, urban development, livelihoods, water supply and sanitation disciplines. Before eGov, Prashanth has worked with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and helped build one of the largest urban development capacity building programs in the country, and the The/Nudge Foundation, where he led the operations for a transformational livelihoods program (Future Perfect) to help underprivileged youth secure employment in the service sector. Prashanth transitioned to the social sector after his MBA in Sustainable Business Practices from the Copenhagen Business School (CBS), and believes in the potential of technology to transform the lives of people and bring positive change in society. Prior to the MBA he has worked in the automobile, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

Chandar Muthukrishnan

Chief Operating Officer

Chandar has 25 years of experience in enterprise software application management across manufacturing, telecom and media domains. He has experience working in both start-up and mature environments and has taken a start-up team to a medium-sized enterprise of 2000 people. Chandar has played key roles in Business Enablement, Program management, Product Engineering, Consulting, Account Management, and Process Engineering. Before joining eGov, he was Senior Vice President of Client Solutions & Business Enablement at Prime Focus Technologies Limited. Before that, he had worked with Wipro for 10 years, where he worked in various roles in software delivery. He is an Electrical & Electronics Engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University.

Play Video

“Digitisation of Andhra Pradesh through eGov’s platform has really benefited govt employees by saving almost 19hrs of their time every week. Earlier the citizens used to run around to access municipal services. Today the ULB officers run around to deliver services to the citizens”

-Shri Kanna Babu, Ex. Director, CDMA

Ministry Of Defence

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

Ministry Of Defence

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

eChhawani is an effort towards offering multiple citizen services in a simple and straightforward manner to citizens across all Cantonment Boards and is the result of efforts of eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC and 62 Cantt Board Administrators supervised by DGDE and MoD. It is a new start and a digital milestone for 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.

Smt Deepa Bajwa, Director General, DGDE

eChhawani is an effort towards offering multiple citizen services in a simple and straightforward manner to citizens across all Cantonment Boards and is the result of efforts of eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC and 62 Cantt Board Administrators supervised by DGDE and MoD. It is a new start and a digital milestone for 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.

Smt Deepa Bajwa, Director General, DGDE

eChhawani is inaugurated today with 8 municipal services and I’m confident that this will continue to enhance citizen centric services for residents of our Cantonment Boards. This is a great step towards ‘good governance’ and is a shining example of India’s emergence as a leader in various sectors offering ease of doing business and ease of living for citizens. I congratulate all stakeholders involved in this initiative and I expect that officers will continue to take feedback from the citizens on whether this initiative is fulfilling the aim of citizen centric governance.

Shri Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister, Government of India

During mSeva WhatsApp Launch- Public grievance redressal in a time bound manner is of paramount importance for the Govt of Punjab. As a part of the “Digital Citizen Services First” approach, we digitized citizen-centric municipal services since 2018 and more than 8 modules can be accessed via web portal and mobile app. Extending the services , we now aim at the resolution of civic complaints with the widely used messaging platform, WhatsApp. Driving a paradigm shift from clicks to personalized seamless conversations will result in improved citizen experience and foster belongingness among citizens with speedy resolution of issues

Shri Ajoy Sharma, CEO, PMIDC

The success of this initiative is driven by how the citizens of the state are enabled to access the services of the Planning Authorities anytime, anywhere. These services will also have a direct impact on the Ease of Doing Business ranking for the state which has been one of our priority focus areas. We believe that DIGIT open platform will be a key enabler in the areas of online building permission system and help Planning Authorities to create a citizen-centric urban governance

Shri.A.Namassivayam, Hon’ble Minister for Town Planning, Govt of Puducherry

Viraj Tyagi

Chief Executive Officer

Viraj Tyagi is the CEO of eGov Foundation. He is passionate about the impact of a jugalbandi of Digital Public Goods, policies, and ecosystems in solving complex societal problems at scale and speed. Before joining the impact sector, Viraj was an entrepreneur and corporate leader with wide-ranging experience in building large businesses in Europe and India. He is a serial entrepreneur, an active investor in start-ups, and a mentor to entrepreneurs. Viraj was the CEO and co-founder of NettPositive – one of the first Big Data and Analytics companies in India. He is also a co-founder of the fintech start-up – Finnable. He is on the board of several start-ups and companies. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore (IIM-B) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT – BHU).

Elzan Mathew

Director – Engineering

Elzan is the head of software implementation at eGov with 19 years of industry experience handling various state implementations and partner-led deliveries. She has been an integral part of the organisation for the past 15 years where her contribution extends from product management, development, and delivery of the product suits. She is instrumental in the success of eGov’s presence in various locations like Chennai Corporation, New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and many more.

Aveek De

VP – Sanitation Mission

Aveek is passionate about sustainable transformation in the social impact space. He has held leadership roles at the intersection of solving complex societal challenges and technology. He has successfully led large-scale transformational programs in education in rural India and Africa, ecosystem development for small and medium entrepreneurs, natural resource management, and groundwater management by influencing governments and communities.
Before he transitioned to the development sector, he spent 15 years in the corporate sector with DEC, Bharti, Gallup, and IBM in sales and marketing, strategic consulting, and business operations. He enjoys setting up green field operations and was instrumental in opening opportunities in the Middle East and West Africa.
He has a BTech in Electronics Engineering from UVCE, Bangalore, and an MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow.

Jojo Mehra

Chief Product Officer

Jojo Mehra leads product management eGov. He is a digital innovation professional with experience in leading product development, business model innovation, and digital strategy. He is passionate about the role that digital technologies and innovation can play in addressing some of the most pressing societal challenges we face. He believes that we have entered a new techno-economic paradigm that is changing our work, our cities, and our societies and that it is incumbent upon us to ensure that this change works for the many and not just a few. He was part of the early team at some of the pioneering digital start-ups like rediff.com and Yoomedia Plc. and also co-founded a shared accommodation platform and an HRtech startup. Jojo holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Loyola College (Chennai, India), a postgraduate degree in Creative and Media Enterprises from the University of Warwick (UK), and recently attended a Master’s programme in Technology Governance and Digital Transformation from the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia).

Pradipta Kundu

Director – Health Mission

Pradipta leads the Health Mission at eGov. A software professional with over 23 years of experience, Pradipta, in the last five years co-founded Samanvay Foundation a nonprofit focussed on technology-heavy lifting; worked on service delivery improvement by the govt hospitals in tribal, underserved areas of eastern Madhya Pradesh; and led an open source software community. A strong supporter of open source technologies, she has led and anchored two popular open-source projects focussed on the social sector. Before that, in her last job at ThoughtWorks, India (a global IT consultancy) she played various roles from managing large software delivery projects to exploring the possibility of IT to improve the health of the underserved working with large and small, international and local NGOs, and governments in multiple countries.

Poornima Muniswamy

Program Director

Poornima has spent most of her career working on projects and programs in management consulting and technology. She thoroughly enjoys conceptualizing, designing, and delivering programmes to solve complex problems.
She has worked on complex transformation programs across multiple countries, connecting the content of business transformation with technology and change management requirements. Over the last few years of her career, she worked on large multi-stream, IT-based organisation transformation programmes.

Manish Srivastava

Chief Technology Officer

Manish has 25 years of experience in creating enterprise-scale software. He has experience working in both start-up and mature environments and has set up two startups from the ground up in Enterprise Customer Experience Management and the other one in Wind Energy Scheduling & Forecasting. Manish has played key roles in Technology and Innovation Management. Before that, he was with Infosys for 17 years, where he worked in various roles as a technology consultant and solution architect with various Global 2000 companies. He is a ‘96 batch, B.Tech. graduate of IIT-BHU. Manish is passionate about technology and deeply vested in the societal good that it can bring. He also mentors a few startups.

Gautham Ravichander

Director – Policy & Advocacy

Gautham leads eGov’s policy initiatives with the Government of India and partner states. He started his career at Janaagraha where he led the Ward Infrastructure Index Program and was a founding team member of The Education Alliance. Gautham has a MIB degree from The Fletcher School at Tufts University where his studies focussed on social enterprises and leveraging business models to reach underserved populations. At Fletcher, Gautham organized and co-chaired the first Tufts Innovation Symposium on Scaling Innovation in Emerging Markets.

Krishnakumar Thyagarajan

VP – GTM & Advisory

Krishnakumar is focussed on creating and deploying solutions seeking profound outcomes in urban governance. Effectiveness of Citizen Services and governance. He has 22 years of experience spanning leadership roles in Tech Mahindra where he spearheaded new practises in the company. He began his career as a strategic consultant. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and holds an MBA from SP Jain University.

Ameya Ashok Naik

Head of Policy & Advocacy

Ameya leads the policy partnerships, advocacy, and monitoring-evaluation-research portfolios at eGov. He started his career as a speechwriter with Dr. Shashi Tharoor in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, followed by stints as a researcher with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the World Peace Foundation, and the International Peace Institute, and most recently worked with the Macroeconomics and Policy Advocacy team at Tata Sons. A psychologist and lawyer by training, Ameya holds MA & LLM degrees from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy; he also serves as a Faculty Fellow with the Takshashila Institution, where he teaches policy analysis.

P.R. Krishnamoorthy

VP – Delivery

As VP of Service Delivery, with a Master’s in Engineering, he leads the Operations and Support Team and manages our major client for the last 9 years with result-based Operational Support. He has extensive experience in driving product/technology strategy in Municipal and Government business environments with strong expertise in Technical consulting, New product commercialisation, Product innovation, Quality systems, and leading-edge Citizen-Centric technologies. He demonstrated strong acumen in spotting emerging Need-of-the-hour technology opportunities and developing niche product capabilities aligned to business plans.

Varun Basu

VP – Growth and Partnerships

Varun has 18+ years of global experience spanning software development, product management, business development, partnerships, and strategy. He has worked in a diverse range of fields from software to spirits to food & beverages. He has significant experience working with early-stage startups and has successfully helped them grow and scale their businesses.

A techie at heart, he started as a developer, and he moved on to Product Management & Sales for a data security startup where he led business development & partnerships. He then went on to manage Diageo’s strategy for emerging markets (LMICs) including Latin America, Africa & South East Asia to focus on the growth of the mainstream spirits category. 

In his last role, he was Global Head of Sales & Product at LitmusWorld, a SaaS Customer Experience platform. Varun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Calcutta University, a Master’s in Computer Application from Vellore Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Gp. Capt. Sudheer Gattu (Retd)

Vice President – Program Management

Sudheer is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and SPJIMR Mumbai, and a proficient veteran officer having years of corporate leadership experience including a stint as an SBU head at a listed EPC company. At eGov, Sudheer leads the Urban mission and the Program management function. Previously, he provided delivery and operations leadership for a 1500 crore greenfield infrastructure project for the govt of Maharashtra including P&L management of a business (800+ team) with 300 crore in annual revenue. Before joining the corporate world, he was a key member of the 500 crore R&D programme at DRDO for the development of indigenous light combat helicopters. At the Indian Air Force, he oversaw large-scale aircraft operations & maintenance, and steered production planning, material planning, and aviation safety management.

Government Of Andhra Pradesh

The AP govt recently rolled out the prestigious Ward Secretariat Program for doorstep delivery of 24 urban services. This was rapidly enabled on the Core Municipal Platform, ensuring easy roll out and consistency of operations.”

Shri GSRKR Vijay Kumar, IAS Commissioner, and Director – Municipal Administration, Andhra Pradesh

Nagpur Municipal Corporation

In 2008, as a part of the comprehensive eGovernance initiative that was meant to provide efficient services to citizens, administrators and corporators by implementing integrated governance solutions, NMC revamped the entire legacy system with eGov’s integrated e-governance system based on open technologies for over 60 functions of the ULB.