SomSomya Sethuramanya Sethuraman is a young toilet enthusiast. In pursuit of understanding the economics of poop in India, Somya realized that solutions need to be preceded by a toilet awakening. In her experience of over five years in the sanitation sector, Somya noticed that most people simply shy away from talking about this issue.

Lack of sanitation is a serious concern that demands immediate action, but the means through which we arrive at solutions can be simple and collaborative in nature. It is this line of thought that encouraged Somya to create the Hapee Commode.

Hapee Commode is a friendly platform for people to discuss, research and find solutions to the complex problem of sanitation.

Apart from managing the Hapee Commode, Somya lends support to the work of local and international organizations committed to delivering better water and sanitation facilities to the poor and marginalized. She is also a Project Officer at the Centre for Technology and Policy, IIT-Madras.

Past credentials:

1) Lead Researcher, Transparent Chennai, IFMR (2009-2012)

At TC, Somya physically mapped and studied the public and community toilets in Chennai with the team. The findings of the research were presented to the Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission, Government of Tamil Nadu, where Somya was appointed as the Steering Sub-Committee Member for the 12th Five Year Plan, Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Group in 2012. Somya has also contributed to the framework of the urban sanitation policy in Tamil Nadu.

2) Sanitation Specialist, Commissionerate of Municipal Administration, Government of Tamil Nadu (2012-14)

Along with a team of multidisciplinary experts, Somya contributed towards the design and implementation of a user-friendly toilet called the Namma Toilet – Toilets for All. This design was implemented across several districts in Tamil Nadu. Recently, Namma Toilet was declared as a national best practice by the central government and is being implemented all over India. Somya, along with her department, also conducted in-depth study of children’s sanitation needs to improve the design and overall feel of school toilets in municipal schools of Tamil Nadu.

3) National Consultant, The Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank (2014-15)

Somya recently traveled to rural districts in Haryana and Rajasthan as part of a documentation study on sanitation. During her time in these two states, Somya had the opportunity to understand the complexities attached to rural sanitation.

To reach out to her, write to hapeecommode@gmail.com

Publications:

Will Someone Break The Chain Of Crises Please?, Swarajya, June 6, 2015

Here’s the secret behind Rajasthan’s sanitation revolution, The Wire, May 19, 2015

Tamil Nadu flush with pride, Op-ed, The Hindu, April 26, 2013

Nation in a State: The Story of Missing Toilets, Op-ed, The Hindu, April 27, 2012

Urban Sanitation in Tamil Nadu: A Report on Public Conveniences, report submitted to State Planning Commission, 2012

Public Toilets in Chennai, Transparent Chennai, IFMR Research, 2011

Economic Environment Index, IFMR Research in collaboration with CII and The British High Commission, 2009

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