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Project information

Rural Eco-sanitation Programme, Tamil Nadu, India

Millions of people in rural India have no access to sanitation, and unclean water and the spread of disease is undermining efforts to end extreme poverty. This project provides a pragmatic, ecological solution for delivering sanitation directly to some of the poorest rural communities.

February 2015 - January 2016

Charity information: Wherever the Need

Wherever the Need logo
  • Need


    Vast numbers of people in Tamil Nadu live without sanitation (only 15% have access to a toilet), and the impact this has on their lives can be devastating. Without sanitation, water becomes polluted, spreading illness and disease. Women and children, who spend more time in the home and neighbourhood, are hit hardest, with ill-health and sickness preventing them from working or attending school.


    In partnership with the Tamil Nadu State Government, we are rolling out a sanitation programme to rural communities within the region, through the provision of ecosan (composting) toilets. Ecosan are clean and hygienic, protect water sources and the local environment from pollution and produce rich, valuable compost. The impact on communities is significant; improved health and well-being enables people to work and go to school, giving them the tools they need to lift them out of poverty.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increase access to sanitation for rural communities in Tamil Nadu, India.


    » Focusing effort on areas of highest needs, we will work with a ‘cluster’ of 5 neighbouring villages.
    » Liaise with village councils, community and women’s groups to plan implementation and building.
    » Provide information and training on ecosan, how they work, proper usage and maintenance.

    What success will look like

    Success will be 700 family ecosan toilets built, bringing sustainable sanitation to 3,000 people.

    Aim 2

    Improve health and well-being through access to toilet facilities and improved hygiene practises.


    » Provide information and training on good health and hygiene practises, such as hand washing.
    » Identify community groups and people on the ground to be advocates for promoting best hygiene practise.

    What success will look like

    Success will be behavioural change; for example, reduced incidents of open defecation and hygiene practises, such as hand-washing, becoming normalised.

    Aim 3

    Create a sustainable business model to support the programme.


    » Employ a support team responsible for emptying ecosans, maintaining the facilities and producing and selling the compost.
    » Provide training for staff in maintenance, health and safety, hygiene best-practise so that they can monitor the project and support communities.
    » Create a social enterprise to support the programme, with income generated from the sale of the compost to cover wages and operational costs.

    What success will look like

    Success will be a regular supply of compost to take to market and development of a regular income stream, with profits being reinvested into the programme.

  • Impact


    • Improvement in the health of the local population, notably a reduction in incidents of intestinal diseases such as diarrhoea.
    • Reduction in child mortality.
    • Change of behaviour, for example, a reduction in incidents of open defecation.
    • Income generated from the sale of the compost and fertiliser.
    • Increased crop yields.
    • Increased attendance levels at school (particularly for girls).
    • Improved health resulting in greater ability to sustain a livelihood.


    The most significant risk to sanitation programmes is whether or not the facilities will be used and will effect change.

    The business model that we have developed to support the project aims to mitigate this risk; offering a service which maintains the ecosan toilets will encourage use and ensure that the facilities do not fall into disrepair. It also provides an opportunity for regular engagement with local communities to gather feedback and address issues as and when they arise.


    Donors will receive regular updates about their project, as well as a final monitoring and evaluation report of the problems encountered and resolved, successes and outcomes.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £80,500

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      Amount Heading Description
      £60,000 Capital costs Building the ecosan toilets.
      £10,500 Training Staff training and community engagement on good health and hygiene practises.
      £10,000 Administration Implementation costs for partner agencies in India
  • Background


    Tamil Nadu, on the south east coast of India, is considered to be one of the wealthiest states in the country, but behind the statistics of economic growth and development lies another story – one of acute poverty. Families in rural Tamil Nadu are among the poorest in the world, with an estimated 12 million people living in poverty.


    The direct beneficiaries will be local people living in the communities where the family ecosans will be built; they will have access to clean, safe toilets, and women and children, in particular, will have much-needed privacy. The project will also create livelihoods through employment and benefit local farmers/agriculture, through the availability of affordable, organic compost.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Wherever the Need specialises in sustainable ecological sanitation. We have been working in Tamil Nadu for over seven years, developing and implementing community sanitation solutions in rural villages and schools. We have an established network of contacts and partner organisations with whom we work, and this programme has evolved from collaboration with people on the ground to identify their specific sanitation needs and identify a workable solution.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Shunmuga Paramisvan

    Country Director, Wherever the Need India - responsible for the co-ordination and implementation of the programme

    Centre For Sustainable Development, Cuddalore

    Responsible for operations: employing maintenance team, cleaning and repairing ecosans, making and selling compost.