Thirunarayanapuram, a village located on the northern bank of Cauvery in Thottiyam block , has been declared as ‘open-defecation free' with the construction of toilets in all households.

Thirunarayanapuram is the 57th village to be declared as open defecation free under the initiative of Gramalaya and Water.org, voluntary organisations working in the fields of sanitation and water.

The declaration comes after years of intervention measures implemented since 2006 by the two organisations in the village, which has about 190 households. According to J.Geetha, executive director, Gramalaya, based on a request from the villagers to improve sanitation , base line survey was conducted to analyse the sanitation situation and ground water level. At the start of the programme, there were only six toilets in the village and all other families were defecating in the open. Incidence of water borne diseases was frequent.With Gramalaya acting as a mentor, an Association for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (AWASH) was formed in 2008 with self help group women and men as members to work for improving sanitation.

Ecosan toilets, which saves on the use of water, was also introduced . Though villagers were initially not very inclined towards the use of toilets, they gradually started using them after sustained intervention.

Water.org, USA had given a grant of Rs.13.34 lakh to be given as subsidy for building individual toilets and providing water connections tohouseholds. About 185 ecoson toilets, each costing about Rs.7,000, have been built in the village. A subsidy of Rs.5,000 was provided for each toilet utilising the grant and about Rs.5.48 lakh was mobilised by Gramalaya from the beneficiaries. About 190 households were also provided water connections.

Speaking at a ceremony to declare the village open defecation free, M.Rajasekaran, MLA, observed ecosan toilets were ideal for villages such as Thirunarayanapuram where the water table was high and water logging was frequent. He assured support to AWASH members in getting banks loans.