This will lead to contextually relevant innovations.


Sanitation workers often work with primitive safety equipment and with “jugaad-based” tools made out of bamboo, plastics, and other hacked together local materials. This leads to high levels of work risk as these implements are not equal to the task of helping these workers carry out relatively complex procedures in ever expanding sanitation systems.

There has been very limited innovation in the design of hardware and tools for sanitation workers and innovation, when it happens, hasn’t typically included designing from the workers’ perspective through prototyping and isn’t commercially available in the mainstream.

There is an urgent need for equipment and machinery innovations that make working conditions easier for sanitation workers.

Consequently, Dalberg is proposing a solution is titled ‘Sanitation Worker Sandbox’. The will involve building a platform for conceptualizing, prototyping and commercializing machinery, tool, and other hardware innovations to increase sanitation worker safety. This would also involve creating a conducive environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs focused on these problems and helping them test and scale their solutions.

Solution generation

Innovation prizes and challenges that lead to the design of relevant solutions, where even governments can ask innovators to develop solutions for specific problems (suction machines for narrow lanes, etc.)

Solution testing and commercialisation

Start-ups, entrepreneurs, academic institutes and even international manufacturers can test their ideas in real-word settings and get feedback from workers, supervisors, etc.

Pitch competitions or exhibitions where ULBs can place orders and manufacturers can purchase innovations

Innovation fund to support funding for promising ideas, competitions, and behaviour change programs for adoption of ideas

Platform for conceptualising, prototyping, and commercialising innovations for sanitation hardware design, cleaning equipment, safety gear, monitoring equipment (sensors, GPS, etc.) and personal health devices


Types of work: all

Gender: Male and female

Employment nature: Contractual and permanent

Personas: All personas


  • Swachh Bharat Hackathon was organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to crowdsource solutions for sanitation and hygiene challenges (Sep, 2017)
  • HAL is developing a signal system to identify open manholes, geotag them and check for breakages; also developing a sewerage safety suit relevant for Indian context
  • Some innovations are being developed at small scale and can be given an impetus through the sandbox. E.g., Genrobotics, founded by eight engineers, has designed a robot named Bandicoot for eliminating sewer deaths in Kerala


  • Host institution with state-of-the-art tech facilities (E.g., IIT)
  • Buy-in from ULBs to test innovations
  • Strategy to crowd-in innovators, which are currently limited

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