Wave Federation wins award

Published - April 26, 2019 09:56 pm IST - TIRUCHI

Recognition: Representatives of the WAVE Federation receiving the award from G. Madhi Vannan, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, at the ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards in New Delhi on Friday.

Recognition: Representatives of the WAVE Federation receiving the award from G. Madhi Vannan, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, at the ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards in New Delhi on Friday.

Women’s Action for Village Empowerment (Wave) Federation, an all-women forum, managing about 200 community toilets in the slums of Tiruchi, has bagged an award for ‘best non-profit engagement model in sanitation (urban)’ category presented by The Indian Sanitation Coalition (ISC) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on Friday.

In 2000, representatives from self-help groups (SHGs) within slum communities were organised into Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SHE) teams and trained by Gramalaya, a city-based non-governmental organisation involved in water management and public sanitation to manage community and public toilets. These SHE teams came together as a federation under the banner of ‘Wave.’

Speaking to The Hindu , S. Damodaran, CEO and Founder, Gramalaya, said thanks to the efforts of the Wave federation, 187 slums in and around Tiruchi had been declared open defecation-free. “Wave is trained to maintain financial records, manage resources and ensure proper operation of the facilities. The women charge anywhere between ₹1 to ₹5 and clean the premises twice a day. They have also appointed a caretaker whose salary is paid entirely out of the money which comes from the usage of the toilets,” said Mr. Damodaran.

P. Grace Mary, member, SHE team hailing from Edatheru, Musiri, said the most difficult part of their job was to convince community members to use the toilets. “We started to take turns and sit in the open area to talk to men as they came to defecate. At 4.30 a.m., the first batch would start their work. At 5.30 a.m. the next batch of women would come. Men used to feel embarrassed and we had to hear a lot of bad comments and threats. But our persistence brought us victory,” she said.

The revenue model of these community toilets also allows for cross-subsidisation between high and low revenue-generating toilets, said Mr. Damodaran. “This means that toilets which generate a good revenue can share the operation and management costs with toilets in areas which do not. Some toilets have a footfall of about 600 a day, especially those in bus stands and market,” he said.

The Tiruchi Corporation approved their work and the SHE representatives are now part of their decision-making processes when it comes to public sanitation, said Mr. Damodaran. This pioneering model is now being repeated nation-wide, he added.

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