International Partners: Marc Edouard Schultheiss and Alexandre Bouchet, EPFL, Switzerland
Village: Nani Borwai, Gujarat
Project Duration: 2 months
Identified Challenge & Aim: Through Amrita’s women empowerment initiatives, rural women are being trained to build their own toilets, thereby addressing the urgent need for sanitation infrastructure in rural communities. However, due to low literacy, women are unable to learn about constructing toilets through traditional pedagogy. To effectively disseminate instructions and ensure comprehension of concepts, a deeper understanding of village life and the women themselves are required along with a customized educational model that will empower and encourage the women.
The Study/Innovation: The team conducted semi-structured interviews to understand social, cultural, economic, political, environmental, and technological factors and features in the village. They also went around the village and made a resource map which gave the team a clear picture of the sustainable resources available in the village and helped them understand the quantity of the resources available. As the team had decided to focus on women and work with them, they split the interested village women into three to four groups to help manage and assist in building their own toilets. This was also to help teach basic masonry skills to empower them both socially and financially. During the interactions with the village women, the team discussed how to avoid risk of contamination from handling sludge while emptying the soak-pit. During the discussions, the team learned about the deep rooted beliefs and considerations according to the regions.
As the team wanted to focus on how to adapt pedagogy according to the village, the target group, and village resources assets, they decided to use a combination of color codes, a down-sized model of the toilet via legos, and storyboarding activities. After this, the team and the women decided that every working day, the women would first watch a video tutorial explaining the task of the day and then attend a workshop. This would be followed by a practice session with the colorful lego bricks to ensure that the goal is well understood before actually executing the field work.