Aveek De

Sanitation Changemaker

Revolutionizing Sanitation through Digital Innovation

Aveek is the Sanitation Mission Leader at eGovernments Foundation. He has 28 years of consulting and business transformation experience in the corporate sector and has spent the last 10 years in the social sector in leadership roles working in initiatives at the intersection of technology and social change. He has led large-scale transformational programs in rural India and Africa. Aveek is an MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, and a Salzburg Global Fellow.

Aveek advocates that every individual must have the opportunity to access safe sanitation facilities when and where they need it; it is a basic human right. Compromised access to safe water and sanitation disproportionately impacts marginalized communities’ health and ability to participate in economic activity. The urgent need to address this draws him to work towards inclusive sanitation outcomes, his motivation further emboldened when he sees the passion of young individuals dedicating a significant portion of their lives to WSH.

The ‘sheer complexity’ of the sanitation ecosystem has both intrigued and driven Aveek to work in this sector. In the sanitation value chain, he could see different actors, each with a unique role to play – from citizens, ULB officials, private operators to FSTP operators. However, to understand what is really happening in the system, he considers that it is critical to have visibility across the entire service chain, which is currently missing. When data is digitally recorded and analyzed, it gives a comprehensive understanding of gaps at each level. For instance, he says, "there’s no record of how long waste takes to be disposed of at a Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant after being picked up from a household. But if we are to ensure safe and timely disposal of waste, we must define a Service Level Agreement and service providers need to adhere to time limits."

With Digital Public Goods (DPGs) being increasingly recognized as a solution, Aveek is working directly with the government in deploying ‘DIGIT’ for systemic changes in WSH. DIGIT is eGovernments’ open-source service delivery and governance platform, customizable across different states and needs. It brings together disjointed parts of the service delivery process through a common platform, enabling data collection and assessing areas of improvement in the service chain.

Aveek and his team piloted the platform in 3 ULBs in Odisha and expanded to 37 within 6 months. To train ULBs on the use of the platform, they partnered with the Odisha Water Academy and identified master trainers. During training sessions, Aveek found himself feeling energized by the participants’ enthusiasm to make a mundane activity exciting through interactive gameification. The participants left with a solid understanding of how to use the platform, inspiring the confidence that a statewide scale-up of the platform is possible.

Aveek recounts that the DIGIT- FSM platform was built after several consultations with the Centre for Policy Research and WASH Institute, helping them bring greater accountability and transparency to sanitation service delivery. In fact, CPR can now utilize the data collected using DIGIT FSM to support the government on data-driven policy making. Similarly, WASHi is looking at exploring ways to embed the digital infrastructure at a national and state level.

To learn more about Digital Public Goods in WSH, read here: Link