Having set a target of constructing as many as 11,000 individual household soak pits across the district during the current year, the district administration of Madurai in Tamil Nadu conducted its first demonstration cum training programme for 1243 women motivators and members of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
“The training programme on construction of individual soak pits is a step towards the much-needed liquid waste management in our villages,” explained Additional Collector, Madurai, Ms. Priyanka B.
Prior to the programme, the district administration undertook a two day survey across all village panchayats to identify if they had soak pits. If they did not, they checked if they had space to construct soak pits. People were also informed about the advantages of having soak pits to spark an interest and demand for such soak pits that would treat grey water and enhance groundwater table.
In phase 1, all households interested in having soak pits and having the required space would be taken up. Thereafter, families that have space within their property but have not expressed interest to have one will be nudged towards construction of soak pits.
“The idea is to saturate one village Panchayat before moving to another village. This will ensure proper liquid waste management at village level, and in the process prevent water logging and mosquito breeding while contributing to hygiene, upkeep and beauty of the village,” Ms. Priyanka said.
As for the candidates selected for the training, the women did not require prior training or experience in the field. Following the training, the candidates will be able to earn from constructing soak pits.
The training covered – information on soak pits and why they are needed; liquid waste management; how soak pits work to recharge groundwater; ideal soak pit design; technical aspects of soak pit construction; what can go wrong in selection of site for soak pits – covering elevation, gradation, channeling kitchen water and bath water into soak pits; and what happens when soak pits are situated close to water guzzling plants.
Participants were also given hands on practical training in soak pit digging, laying of rings, filling of sand and gravel, construction of brick platform, etc. They were divided into groups of 5 and the plan was for each group to construct a minimum of 5 soak pits in 3 days and 10 soak pits over a six day week.
Previously, when motivators took up such contracts, they would sub contract the same to other masons. However, it was made clear during the training that participants would have to construct the soak pits themselves. As a result, there was much enthusiasm during the lecture cum demo training and far greater involvement.
The training was carried out by Block Development Officers (BDOs), Zonal deputy BDOs, overseers and Officials of the Block level Rural Engineering Department. Plans are in the pipeline to provide another similar training at panchayat level before embarking on project execution.