World Toilet Day 2014

1.5 million children die in India every year from diarrhoea.

Last week we ‘celebrated’ World Toilet Day (19 November). What does your toilet look like? Is there a mirror? What colour is the rug? Is it en-suite? Is it in the open beside a railway line or in the field behind your school? Jeevika Trust build toilets in India’s villages and schools.

Our projects are changing things for the 23% of Indian adolescent girls who drop out of school when they hit puberty due to a lack of toilet facilities. With rooftop rainwater harvesting systems we have a simple eco-friendly technology that fits the local context, and doesn’t drain low groundwater reserves.

india toilet

India is a land of contradiction – nearly half the 1.2 billion population defecate in the open, but more than half have a mobile phone. People in the West find it hard to understand how money can be poured into providing water and sanitation for years, yet still the need is so great. It is true Indian government grants have funded the building of toilets for the majority of people below the poverty line. But these builds are of poor quality, and there has been little spent on promoting awareness of hygienic practise in the community.

We work with our five trusted grassroots NGO partners on hygeine awareness workshops. Despite a renewed dedication by the new Indian Prime Minister Nahendra Modi to provide toilets for all, this cannot happen without experienced support from the NGO sector to change cultural attitudes.

When you donate to Jeevika Trust you give dignity and health, so if you’re feeling flush don’t get bogged down in guilt and donate here now.

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Jeevika Trust at Small is Festival

To explore and celebrate the approach of Jeevika Trust founding father E. F. Scumacher to sustainability and poverty the Small is Festival happened in Bristol in September.  There was a rammed timetable of debates, workshops and music.  Jeevika Trust were represented with a talk on ‘Schumacher in Village India.’

E. F. Schumacher India

I introduced the scale and suffering of poverty in village India. The wide reaching meaning of ‘jeevika’ regarding right livelihood financially and vocationally on a human individual scale, respect for the environment to support livelihoods now and in the future and the enabling conditions necessary for livelihood were touched upon.

Ooranie water reservoir redevelopment and school roof top rainwater harvesting are appropriate technology that fit the context of the project without overloading the community with difficult to up keep modern solutions. I described organisation of producers into Self-Help Groups for human scale self reliant local economy’s that are integrated and protected from global fluctuations.

Schumacher infographic

Photos courtesy of Arran Hodgson

Appropriate knowledge was illustrated by the Project Madhu Network bee-keeping initiative to stop wild bees being raided for honey then destroyed.  Involved in this is the state level framework for a standardised product. The tri-sector was introduced by way of a description of the Oxford University Symposium ‘The Dilemma for Rural India: Urbanisation or Village Prosperity.’

The only divergence with Schumacher’s approach in village India is the focus on women. Empowerment at the heart of the family has been proven to be the most effective and reliable method.  

jaipur brass band

Photo courtesy of Kaucus Sound-Film

 It is amazingly gratifying to see Schumacher held is such esteem by so many forward thinking experts and the ‘Small is festival’ cultivated a positive view for the future of the world and its people.

To support us in furthering Schumacher’s vision donate here now

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Dancing away the barriers!

Jeevika’s 8th Stakeholder Workshop was recently held at the Vishtar Training Centre  near Bangalore in Karnataka. Eight women and eight men from our five partner organisations came from Tamil Nadu and Orissa to take a fresh look at Gender Equality – most importantly, how to achieve this more efficiently and effectively within our project activities?

workshop india

But why look at Gender Equality, when already we successfully work with women to provide safer, cleaner water; have helped women become producers of organic compost and fertilisers, bees & honey, crabs, prawns & fish, cashews, bananas and vegetables; and have helped families gain access to toilets in villages and their children to toilets in schools? Because the more we have worked with women the more we have found the need to look further ahead strategically than when we first put women at the heart of our Mission.

Now the daughters of the women we have already worked with need access to low-cost, hygienic, eco-disposable sanitary napkins so that they can stay in school to receive a better education than that of their mothers; so they become more aware, more self-sufficient and confident; so their own children might live and work in a better world.

So what did we take away from our workshop? Following discussions, brainstorms, games, exercises, work groups and feedback sessions, partners agreed that all future projects need to consider the time women already spend undertaking their family responsibilities before loading them with additional project activities. And secondly, their menfolk need to be included in discussions related to project design.

Men need to understand why it is that women are given priority in income-generation and other activities; and why it is relevant for men to play a supportive role (eg. in marketing and other external roles that women are often reluctant to employ).

Workshop participants also took away some great singing and dance routines to break the chain, an on-line song & dance campaign to highlight violence vs women: in between the serious stuff, we danced our socks off!

one billion rising

If you would like to support Jeevika Trust bring Gender Equality to its women’s income-generation activities in some of India’s poorest villagers

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