Case Study: The Sanitation Conundrum

LightCastle Analytics Wing
September 12, 2017
Case Study: The Sanitation Conundrum

The Opportunity

At present, only 20% of Dhaka city is connected to the central sewerage network with the rest of the households left to fend for themselves in managing their sanitation needs. This leaves close to 120 mn people without access to the sewerage channel in Dhaka. Given that the population in the city is growing at 4.2% per year, this number will keep increasing to unsustainable levels if left unchecked. With government budgets already strained, the problem is likely to compound in the coming years.

This called for an innovative approach to the problem, where the issue of lack of resources would be circumvented by incentive alignment. In order to tackle this problem, LightCastle Partners, in collaboration with a UK based NGO, Water, and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), and Dhaka Water and Sanitation Authority (DWASA) set out to design a Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) system that would be portable throughout Bangladesh, following successful rollout in the capital city.

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Our Approach

We devised a Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) system that would leverage mechanized vacuum systems called ‘vacuous’ to clean sewer holding tanks. The basic premise behind the system was to design a system where private sector incentives would be combined with government sector resources with facilitation by an NGO to design a scalable business model that would serve the urban population in a cost-effective way. LightCastle designed a comprehensive framework that would allow for private sector individuals, termed as a Sanitation Entrepreneur (SE) to lease out the Vacutugs from DWASA and provide services to households & institutions while generating revenue and growing the market for its services.

In order to effectively do this, LightCastle Partners designed a data analytics dashboard that would help the SE project costs of delivery and formulate price charters to cater to customers of varying scale, nature, and spatial characteristics.

We used a six-stage filter model framework to formulate the whole project as follows:

The Future

The Vacutug business is in the process of being initiated throughout Dhaka city. The business will be operating on the design by LightCastle’s Business Analytics Wing (BAW). The Business Analytics conducted on geospatial demand management allowed the team to design the business in an optimal way and allow for an optimal solution to the traveling salesman problem.


The marriage of business analytics with an innovative public-private model helped solve a problem of nonaligned incentives; helping to bridge the gap between government sector resources and private sector incentives, allowing for optimal service delivery at the least cost. This is allowing the regional government to fulfill its mandate while bypassing the incentive deficiency in the segment by bringing in private sector elements. In turn, Business Analytics is being leveraged to keep the operations running at optimum efficiency and ensure business growth by predicting and adjusting for relevant parameters.

WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a systemic and data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We are an international management consulting firm which creates systemic and data-driven opportunities for growth and impact in emerging markets. By collaborating with development partners and leveraging the power of the private sector, we strive to boost economies, inspire businesses, and change lives at scale.

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