NGOs work together to help Tiruvannamalai Villages


Ecosan Toilets in Tiruvannamalai

In Samuthiram Village, adjacent to Tiruvannamalai, three NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations, usually nonprofits and trusts) have worked together to complete a pilot project bringing ecological sanitation to the Tiruvannamalai area. 50 Ecosan toilets were built in Samuthiram Village in 2008 and 2009. Ecosan Toilets are ‘urine diversion’ toilets that separate the wet and the ‘dry’ components of human waste. The wet elements are used to fertilize household gardens, which include, especially in South India, bananas. The dry component is composted and then used as high-quality fertilizer in the village farm fields.  Ecosan toilets save water, reduce health problems associated with sanitation, and produce quality fertilizer from what are normally treated as waste products. All of these are important for South Indian villages.  Ecosan
Toilets are fairly new to India, with the first construction in the coastal area of Kerala in the late 1990s. Then, in Tamil Nadu, Bless introduced Ecosan Toilets into Cuddalore and Scope introduced them into Trichy. In Auroville they were introduced with the help of Waterharvest.

NGOs: Quality of LIfe Trust, Bless, and Wherever the Need

Quality of Life Trust (QLT) is based in MGR Nagar, a neighborhood outside of Tiruvannamalai. This is the local NGO that conceived of the project, got it funded (by Wherever The Need in the UK), and  worked with Bless to actually implement this project. QLT was supported in this  process by a handful of dedicated westerners who helped open doors and helped QLT learn how to work with the other NGOs. Bless was a particular help. QLT was created and is run by local village people who are not well educated and had no experience with governmental rules for Trusts, nor with the kind of accounting standards needed to provide transparency to donors and the Indian government.

I have worked with QLT for the last year providing management support. I had the pleasure of going with the QLT team to the final meeting of the pilot Ecosan Toilet Construction project recently completed. This meeting was at the new Bless facility, south of Pondicherry. The final accounting review was done, QLT presented their final report (Go here to read this report and look at photos. It is a good summary of the Ecosan Toilet, its benefits, and impact on the lives of villagers. Please take the time to read it.) and then QLT was presented with a letter  of completion by Anthony Samy, the founder and Executive Director of Bless.

Below are a few photos from the day.

Entering the new Bless facility.


The complex has several buildings: office buildings …


A functioning cow shed …


The main office building.


The multi-use Ecosan Toilet building.


Meeting with Mr Appu, in Bless Accounting. Left to right are: Mr. Appu, Mr. Murugan, QLT Accountant, Mr Ramesh and Dhakshinamoorthy of QLT.


Pictured below are Ramesh, Mr. K. Arumugam of Bless, Dhakshinamoorthy and Murgan.


Final meeting with Mr. Anthony Samy, who presented QLT with the project completion letter, some of which is quoted below.


Below, back in Tiruvannamalai, Dhakshinamoorthy is pictured in front of Sathya’s Cafe in Samuthiram Village. He is the founder and Executive Director of Quality of Life Trust.


Letter of Completion

From the letter of Completion, from Mr. Anthony Samy of Bless:

We appreciate the good work on water and Ecosan toilet promotion in the working area of Samuthiran Panchayat of Indira Nagar Village.

The dedicated team of Quality of Life Trust has extended the delivery to its needy families to improve the quality of life.

We are proud to say we enjoyed working with your organization, and the association must be continued longer to bring the village as a model in the district.

Supporting this work

If you are interested in helping such efforts, both Bless and Wherever The Need can accept donations from anyone in the world. Quality of Life Trust can, for now, only accept donations from Indians in India. (This should change later this year, with completion of the initial three year FCRA period.)

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2 Responses to “NGOs work together to help Tiruvannamalai Villages”

  1. rpodury Says:

    Dear richard,
    Thank /on this very interesting article.I would like to konw the folowing.
    Is it possible for these ngos to take up the project near the houses on the girivalam before approaching pachhiamman temple. As we noted that the dwellers have been using open space near/on the inner path . A facility like ecoscan in this place may be quite helpful for all. What would be the cost implications ?

    another doubt. Can we build these ecoscan toilets in the individual houses we construct in the town. Could they be better substitutes for the present septic tank types built now by all in the absence of pucca sewrage system in the town?

    will be grateful for some information

    Ramana sarma ( or

    • richardclarke Says:

      It could ber possible for NGOs to work with those houses. To get it started it takes someone in the village who is committed to change. And MUCH work past that. Cost is roughly Rx 20000 per toilet. I know that many would appreciate this. To happen it would take someone one local (from t he village) driving interest. This kind of change cannot be imposted from outside and be successful.

      Ecosan toilets certainly do work in urban areas. Again for this kind of change to happen, someone has to be the change agent. Here it takes getting politicians involved. Part of the issue also is that ongoing training and support is needed to keep these useful. People need to be taught how to move from the topilet use of a compartment to composting then extraction for the compartment. As I read on the internet, it looked to me that there have been successful urban projects.

      Ecosan are better solutions than septic tanks in many situations. If groundwater is high, then there is always real risk of contamination from sepetic tanks. If groundwater is low, then a toilet that uses less water is better. So ini either case Ecosan could be the preferred solution.

      For reasons like these I wanted to give some publicity to this effort.

      Om Arunachala,

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