Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Water Management Workshop for Tripura Schools : 16th July 2016

ONGC, under its CSR initiative had repaired/ reconstructed toilets in 204 schools in six districts of Tripura. However on a field visit by the Project Team it was seen that many of the schools were facing acute water shortage issues due to which the functionality of the toilets was also affected. Hence a workshop was held on 16th July 2016 to address the following

1. To provide solutions for making water available for toilets in water scarce areas
2. To take a step to achieve the larger goal of providing access to safe sanitation to all children for better health and hygiene
3. To optimize the use of rainwater through harvesting initiatives at school level at low cost techniques (Tripura has 100 days rainfall annually, about 2200mm)

BIOME was called on as RWH Experts. The workshop was facilitated by ARPAN (a local NGO from Tripura), Earth&Us (Auroville Foundation) and BIOME Environmental Trust (Bangalore)

A short account of the BIOME team's experiences and learning from participating in the same

At ARPAN office
13th July 2016 : Was the flight to Agartala and meeting up with the local organisers – ARPAN Society. ARPAN Society ( is made up of a bunch of committed professionals from varied fields like journalism, medicine, education etc who are on a mission to create a sustainable society in Tripura. Their energy to work both with citizens as well as government (even after office hours) as well as desire to make a positive change was quite remarkable

14th July : Was a trip to 3 government schools in Khowai district to assess RWH feasibility. Some of the points that stood out were

Open Well in School
  1. Most schools were on large plots of land – perhaps an average of about 2-5 acres
  2. Some of the smaller schools (fewer kids, also the Junior Basic/primary schools) had only 12-20 children
  3. There were several toilets in the schools (built with some tranches of grant money - however most toilets were not being used)
  4. Water was available in abundance in the schools on the lower contours – however plumbing did not exist to take the water to the toilet
  5. For the schools on top of small hillocks, the teachers had to trek down for about 30-45 minutes to fetch water
  6. Older girls seemed to be the only category of kids using toilets. All other kids seemed to not care much about the toilets
  7. We met the District Magistrate of Khowai. He was extremely keen to make a difference and was interested in getting RWH implemented in the district

    RWH certainly appeared very logical and feasible to implement

Large rooftop for a 12 student school
Sandipa speaks with the kids
Water Filters

3 generations of toilets
Checking out the venue
  15th July : Was brainstorming and actually preparing for the workshop. ARPAN, Earth and Us + BIOME worked with equal intensity to ensure that the workshop would be useful for all participants. A professor and his student from IIT Guwahati also joined us. They would be sharing their experiences from Assam. The BIOME presentation is here. Thanks to Min from Earth Ad Us the planning was very meticulous. All efforts were taken that this would be "zero waste"/"no frills" workshop - to the extent possible

16th July : The full day workshop. Here are a few news articles that cover the event. By the end of the workshop the administration actually agreed to try out RWH in a couple of schools. It was attended by the Education Minster of Tripura, SSA director + headmasters and school inspectors

Education Minister
Workshop Prep

BIOME presents


17th July : A visit to the Bangladesh border + to the local landfill. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on 3 sides and almost 850+km of the border is fenced. The stories of peaceful migrations were also quite heartwarming. The Hindus and Muslims in certain cases had just walked across the border and peacefully exchanged properties.

The inputs to the landfill are slowly increasing. The usual "urban" problems of segregation and waste processing are quitely catching up with this otherwise rather small and peaceful city

We return to Bangalore

Bangladesh border

Agartala Landfill

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