Varadharajapuram is a village on the banks of River Kaveri in Thottiyam Block of Tiruchirappalli District, Tamil Nadu, India. Being a water‐logged area because of the closeness to the river, people in the village cannot construct low‐cost toilet models. Except five families, the remaining families were practicing open defecation on the river banks and on the road sides leading to the banana groves.
Sridharan, a 32 year old youth, one day had a chance to attend a village meeting of women self‐help groups formed by Gramalaya, a local NGO. The field staff from Gramalaya was talking about the formation of Association for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (AWASH ) committees in the village. They also briefed the women about the dangers of open defecation nearby the water bodies and the importance of having toilets at the households.
People in the village were mentioning about the water logging problem of their village and the few septic tank model toilets constructed in the village very often get filled. Emptying was a recurring problem and so was getting the money for clearing the toilet tanks. The field staff talked about eco‐san compost toilets and the appropriateness of the model in this type of soil situation. All the members at the meeting agreed that there should be an exposure visit to a village where similar eco‐san toilets were constructed by the local people and that were in use by the families. Srirdharan joined the exposure visit to the National Institute of Water and Sanitation, maintained by Gramalaya and Seventhilingapuram village.
From that moment Srirdharan got more interested in the eco‐san toilet models and he motivated other community members in his village. By his support and with technical assistance from the local AWASH committee, the villagers were able to construct 80 eco‐san toilet models and 40 household water connections.
One of his relatives Mrs.Gomathi constructed a septic tank model costing Rs.70,000 (Euro 1,100), which required frequent clearing of the pit and considerable money for pit emptying and disposal works.
Srirdharan was motivated by the field staff from Gramalaya to construct an eco‐san toilet at his home utilizing the financial support from Gramalaya NGO. He constructed an eco‐san toilet at a cost of Rs.7,000/‐ ( Euro 110) at his home two years back, which he constructed with a bathroom facility.
When he got married last year, his wife Saraswathy was hesitant to use the eco‐san toilet since it was not like a conventional toilet model where water would be used for flushing. Sridharan motivated her by telling her all other family members like his mother, father and brother are using the eco‐san toilet. He further affirmed that it is a water saving toilet where water is not used for flushing. He also explained that the compost (humus) from the eco‐san toilet chambers can be used as manure in their garden or cultivation fields. Sridharan’s wife too started using the toilet along with other family members.
Srirdharan is applying the compost from his eco‐san toilet to the local garden where coconut, banana and mango saplings are planted. The eco‐san toilet itself is having an attached bathroom to ensure convenient and privacy for women and for other hygienic purposes.
Srirdharan decorated his eco‐san toilet with paintings and flower plants to show that is an user – and environment friendly toilet for the entire family.
Story submitted for the Source field story contest.