From the 23rd to the 27th of January, 2017, GIWA organized its five-day Toilet Building 101 training for 25 women selected from 7-8 neighbouring villages in Laldhang and Meethiberi Village Panchayats after surveys, community meetings and events. The Kali Temple courtyard in Laldhang was the training venue. On the basis of closest proximity to this venue, two households without toilets were chosen for building the practice units. The participating ladies had earlier attended GIWA’s Healthy Homes and Families classes, community mapping exercises and WASH on Wheels shows.

Mr. Shyam Lal Nirmal and Mr. Vikram, trainers from One Step Foundation, Lucknow, taught the ladies how to build twin-pit pour-flush toilets. On the first day, the trainers and GIWA staff interacted with the participants on the need and importance of toilets for entire communities. The trainers showed images of twin pit toilets, different steps of toilet building and the tools and materials required for the process.

Some ladies wanted to know why 4 feet deep twin pits were being made instead of a large septic tank. They thought that the small pits would soon be filled up but a larger septic tank could be used for years in continuation. The trainers replied that, first and foremost, the twin pit model is cheap and, secondly, it requires relatively less space to build; but the most important reason that, unlike in the septic tank model, the sludge from the twin pit toilet does not pollute the ground water. Next, the trainers taught the participants how to lay out the design using lime powder, and how to measure the toilet dimensions. Then, the techniques for digging of the pit and mixing of cement with sand were also taught.

The second day started with questions from participants to which the trainers responded, after which there was a recapitulation of the previous day’s lessons. The trainers also explained that circular pits have more soaking capacity than square shaped tanks. Practical work started with making lids for the pits using iron rods and metal wires crisscrossed on the sand surface in a circular shape. The crisscross design was surrounded with bricks on the periphery. Then the cement and sand mixture was poured on it and the surface was made even with the help of tools. Then the main DPC was started with bricks and cement. The lining of the pits was also begun using bricks and the cement mixture in honeycomb pattern.

On the third day the second toilet unit was started in the same manner: laying out the design with lime stone, digging of twin pits and foundation-building for the superstructure. Some participants asked how much money they would need to have in order to build twin pit toilets. The trainers answered that it depends on the budget of the individual household; a basic type of pour flush toilet can be built for just around Rs. 10000 using simple material, but if a water tank, tap and tiles are added, the cost will rise. The most important thing, they said, is to have a functional toilet, no matter whether it is small or large, simple or lavish.

On the fourth day the trainers asked the participants to recapitulate the learnt until then, and whether they thought the training was useful for them. The ladies answered that the Toilet Building 101 course was unique. They were happy they were now equipped with the knowledge to not only build toilets themselves but also teach others how to do so. Beena from Mangolpura village shared that, earlier, she and her neighbours used to believe that a toilet would cost Rs. 50000, or more; but now they knew that the cost depends on the material used. Then the participants learnt how to fix the toilet seat and join it with pipes leading to the pits. They were also taught how to build the junction box and why it is important.

On the final day the participants were given practical lessons on building the super structure, and how to make small ventilation windows near the roof of the toilet. One participant asked why they were not designing any exit from the pit for gas. The trainer replied that the honeycomb design of the pits can take care of the gas. But he also warned them that soap water should not be poured into the chamber as it can kill the bacteria that help in decomposing the waste. Participants learnt how to plaster the walls and how to reuse the cement sand mixture that falls on to the ground.

GIWA Team:  Samuel, RC, Shruti, Dr. Swami, Vishal, Sandeep, Gyaniji, Jyoti
Trainers:  Mr. Shyam Lal Nirmal and Mr. Vikram (One Step, Lucknow)