The Many Forms of Progress
TOILET TITAN GRAMALAYA, TAMIL NADU
When his NGO helped make Thandavampatti, a habitation of 62 homes in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirappalli district, India’s first ODF village in 2003, Gramalaya’s founder S. Damodaran, 55, could not have imagined the initiative would one day transform into a massive drive. Now, he runs a campaign for total sanitation in villages and slums across south India (excluding Kerala), and has till date helped 47 villages and 100 slums achieve the ODF tag. The project areas of Gramalaya are provided with 100 per cent sanitation coverage by promoting individual household toilet facilities. It works on a three-pronged strategy: health empowerment through toilets, safe drinking water and hygiene education and economic empowerment by providing livelihood promotion that, in turn, ensures social empowerment. This is done with the support of the government, CSR initiatives and donor organisations. Gramalaya also has an initiative which offers loans to women to build toilets.
Another of Damodaran’s initiatives is a smart toilet concept. Innovative methods are being made use of for waste management, including the recycling of waste into manure via composting and the use of bath water for kitchen gardens. Damodaran has also developed 24 low-cost toilet models. Gramalaya is planning to reach five more states in north India and scale up operations for making an ODF India.