Amrod is a village with whom WaterAid started working in April 2012 and they went through the standard approach of listening to the community and engaging with them in order to ensure that they were bought into the solution that is put in place - this is vital and is the difference between WaterAid and other very well meaning organisations who might choose to buy a well or install a toilet - long term sustainable solutions that can be managed by the village themselves and make a real difference to help them achieve their ambitions as a community.
The funding of the scheme really interested me - if the villagers raise 3% of the funds for the scheme themselves then the local government will fund the remainder. This is the important thing about WaterAid - they use the resources to leverage funds from other sources. So they complete advocacy work in the villages to mobilise themselves, they facilitate the submission of plans, education programmes and the putting in place of an organisational structure. In this way the hours spent in the villages by WaterAid achieve much more than giving the money alone would do.
The major motivational factor of this village for installing sanitation was safety. It's hadn't occurred to me before but hit me right between the eyes. Women and children were being attacked out in the fields if they were seen openly defecating. Imagine being a father or a brother who was unable to protect their family from these kind of attacks. You would want the women of your household to be safe and for them to have dignity at all times. Prabhu spoke to us as a concerned father who wanted exactly that for his wife Soram and their 9 children, just simply safety, privacy and dignity.
So in just less than 4 months the village have managed to complete 75 latrines, and have 9 more to complete by the end of February to hit their programme target. And we, although not sure whether we were a help or a hinderance, proudly helped the community with 3 of those 9 remaining latrines.
The engineering bit was great - basically they construct two circular chambers with small drainage holes in the wall about 1.5 metres deep with a Y-Junction leading to the latrine base inside a brick cubicle. One of the legs of the Y-Junction is blocked so that only a single chamber is filling at any point in time. It will take approximately 5 years for this chamber to fill for an average sized family. When it is full, the junction is changed to divert flows to the second chamber. The first is left for 6 months in which time the liquid leaches out and the solid matter decomposes to leave a good quality compost type material which can be emptied out and used on kitchen garden. And the cycle just continues as such - sustainable and practical.
I'm not sure how good a bricklayer I would make, but we helped which was the main thing and I loved getting my hands dirty. The mason Sitaram said we did a good job, but I think he may have just been gracious! I suspect there might have been a bit of re-pointing going on after we left!