Musiri Selection Grade Town Panchayat

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Archive for October, 2008

Learning new practices at Musiri

Posted by musiri on October 22, 2008

Arne R. Panesar, senior expert, GTZ, tries his hand at a grinding stone, as Petra Bierwirth, member of the German parliament, watches at Musiri near Tiruchi.

Arne R. Panesar, senior expert, GTZ, tries his hand at a grinding stone, as Petra Bierwirth, member of the German parliament, watches at Musiri near Tiruchi.

TIRUCHI: A German parliamentarian and three of her countrymen have been spending the past four days with a couple of low-income group families at Musiri near here, studying Ecosan toilets, touted as an alternative model of sanitation that helps to conserve water and convert human waste into compost.

A family of weaver and another doing mat finishing work, both with Ecosan toilets in their homes, played host to the German team, which includes Petra Bierwirth, a member of the Bundestag and chairwoman of the Committee on Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The home stay was part of an exposure dialogue programme, organised by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), a voluntary organisation, to study the Ecosan technology.

Ecosan toilets are a cost-effective alternative to the commonly used flush toilets, especially in water-scarce areas. They segregate urine and human excreta. The solid waste is left to compost in a pit and it could be used as fertilizer. The urine could also be used for irrigation. Three separate research projects are under way in the Musiri region.

SCOPE, a voluntary organisation, has promoted 600 Ecosan toilets in and around Musiri, besides a couple of community toilets.

The toilets, it was claimed, helped to conserve 60 per cent of the water, compared with flush toilets. The Germans appear to be convinced of the efficacy and viability of the technology.

“It is a good model, and more people in India need such toilets,” says Ms. Bierwirth, clad in a salwar kameez and sporting mehndi on one hand, and looking relaxed.

She and Arne R. Panesar, senior expert, GTZ, have been staying with the Murugesans, traditional weavers.

Water conservation is one of the foremost things on their minds. “Though it is not an immediate problem back home, we too feel the responsibility. India has a great chance now of promoting such alternative sanitation systems,” says Dr. Panesar.

Already a change has come over the Murugesan family.

“Their daughter and the son refuse to defecate in the open. The family has even decided to finance the toilet of their daughter’s house , after she is married,” reveals Ms. Bierwirth.

Thomas Henke, regional appointee for Asia, KFW Development Bank, and Julia Littman, a journalist, who have been staying with the Manickams some distance away, too seem satisfied. “We also used the toilets; there is no odour, and it is clean. Though vastly different from home, it is not much of a culture shock,” is the reaction of Ms. Littman.

“We can give money and share our knowledge after this firsthand experience,” Ms. Bierwirth said, asked whether she would lobby back home for funding such projects in Asia.

This is one of the four German teams now in the country for home stay visits at Musiri, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

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