The challenges of ecological sanitation in coastal south India - A case study of Kovalam town - South Chennai (Tamil Nadu) - A presentation

Involvement of women in designing toilets was very important for the success of the programme, the presentation says.

This presentation by Sekhar Raghavan, Director, Rain Centre, Chennai, India highlights the experiences and the challenges faced by Rain Centre in introducing ecological sanitation in the coastal town of Kovalam near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India along with Coastal and Rural development Trust (CRDT), a small non profit centre based in Kovalam .

The coastal town of Kovalam was selected as a case because of its peculiar situation with its location in a fast developing  peri-urban area in proximity to Chennai city characterised by good groundwater situation, adequate land and housing facilities, but with a glaring and urgent need and demand for toilets.

The first phase started in 2005 that focused on awareness building and intervention in the form of building of toilets with support from FAKT Germany, Arghyam, Bangalore and Komazawa University, Tokyo, Japan.The second phase was completed in 2009-2010 where toilets were constructed under the JICA grant.The learnings from the first phase were incorporated into improving the outcomes in the next phase.

The study provided valuable insights into the processes that need to be followed and the steps to be taken to make such efforts successful and sustainable in the long run. The study found that:

  • One needed to invest time in sanitation efforts since implementation had to look into a number of social as well as technological factors for positive outcomes
  • Community participation and education were very critical to the success of the programme
  • Systematic monitoring of the programme by selecting people from the community itself was essential to ensure sustainability of the programme
  • Making people pay for their own toilets was important for the sustainability and ownership by the people, since experience had indicated that the governmental welfare schemes had developed a culture of dependency with no one wanting to pay for toilets.
  • Focus on smaller geographical areas increased the chances of positive outcomes till critical mass was achieved.
  • Involvement of women in designing toilets was very important for the success of the programme.

The presentation can be downloaded from below:

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