Sanitation, hygiene, and proper water management for the rural poor to improve health and quality of life.

Sanitation, hygiene, and proper water management for the rural poor to improve health and quality of life.

Project Summary
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Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Implementing community based participatory and sustainable water and sanitation management to improve the quality of life for people in developing rural areas.

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Public information alone doesn’t change behaviors

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Move people up the sanitation ladder

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Implementing community based participatory and sustainable water and sanitation management to improve the quality of life for people in developing rural areas.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

For over twenty-two years CORD has been working in over 550 villages in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. By establishing community based organizations human capital is harnessed, and education and awareness is spread at the grass root level.
As one component of our integrated program, CORD is providing water management and sanitation awareness to many villages. We also aid in the construction of low cost toilets for the poor, single women, and differently-abled persons. The community then mobilizes to help such needy people by volunteering for labour or offering monetary support. It also provides training and sets an example which other villagers can follow in construction of their own toilets.
Besides advocating toilet construction, we are implementing other water management and sanitation measures such as: soakage pits, kitchen gardens for proper recycling or disposal of kitchen waste water, rainwater harvesting, revival of natural water sources, check dams, gabions, loose boulders, and plantation to prevent soil erosion, garbage pits, and segregation of plastics for recycling.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

Beneficiaries are selected in each village by local Community Based Organizations. For deserving, CORD enables access to half the funds through Self Help Groups and partially constructs the toilet. The family provides the remaining funding, and contributes labor efforts. Beneficiaries selected are from the following categories: Disabled, Single Women, Below Poverty Line, Scheduled Casts, or Other Backwards Classes. The toilets are built to be functional, and the beneficiaries themselves complete the construction. These structures serve as a model for other villagers.

How do you plan to expand your innovation?

CORD works on the four principles of networking, integration, participation, and sustainability. Currently we are working in 30-34 focused panchayats (approx. 150-180 villages); in doing so, we have developed villages and created a pool of resource persons who are experienced and knowledgeable. In response to their demands, we link other villages to our developing villages where they can teach, learn, and replicate each others’ practices.
We follow up with villagers 2-3 months after construction is completed and again 1+ years post construction on their progress, and current practices. We also ask how they are spreading awareness to their peers, and if they have actually motivated others to implement proper water and sanitation practices. CORD sows and nurtures the seed which grows into an integrated, participatory, demand driven program in which each village is sustained by the villagers themselves. Our goal is to create such self sustainable practices in as many villages as possible.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

Since we are an integrated and comprehensive rural development organization we work directly with the people and local self governments of over 550 villages.
Currently our health and sanitation program is working with the Lions Club, Dharamshala and Lions Club, Oak Brook (Chicago, USA). We also have many networking liaisons on the panchayat, block, and district level in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh on various issues regarding health, sanitation, and water management.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Education and behavior change leading to a self sustainable, integrated, participatory multi-pronged growing program improving the quality of life for rural people.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

Development is a slow but continuous process. People have been living the same way for countless generations, and must now change with the modern world. Spreading awareness of how to, and convincing people to improve their lives remains a difficult task.

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

Currently the water and sanitation departments are working only in our 30-34 focused Panchayats. In this area thre are approximately 40-50 thousand people who are being served. With $5,000 we build 80-90 more toilets (for use by approx. 350 people) with 50% contribution from beneficiaries. Indirectly approximately 7,000-9,000 villagers can learn from constcuction and education/awareness programs and adopt proper water, sanitation, and hygiene practices themselves.


CORD reaches out to 13 blocks in the Kangra District and Hamirpur, spread out over 550 villages, and reaches out to over 40,000 people directly.


CORD reaches out to 13 blocks in the Kangra District and Hamirpur, spread out over 550 villages, and reaches out to over and 200,000 people indirectly

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

Reduction in illness, clean water sources due to reduced open defecation, repair of natural water sources, and plantation and check dams to prevent soil erosion. We also monitor beneficiaries’ health practices such as hand washing, nail cutting, cleanliness of toilets and homes, changing and cleaning of undergarments and clothes, good feminine hygiene practices during menstruation, sanitary child-birth practices, and proper diet and health screenings for school children. Finally we monitor villagers’ progress in motivating each other to adopt proper water and sanitation practices.

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation, if so please describe?

Government of India sponsored a toilet in every household in 1980s through Total Sanitation Campaign. Due to a lack of education or training, many families built a toilet but did not use it, or simply kept the money without building a toilet. People were not aware of the necessity, or benefits to proper sanitation and hygiene practices. We are currently implementing the government’s previous idea, along with providing training and awareness of its benefits. We also implement concept of Self Help Groups (SHGs) which partake in micro-credit and income generation activities. We have trained over 25,000 people in micro credit. Currently there are over 1,400 SHGs in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India, with over Rs. 18 Crores in circulation (US$4.7 million).

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Direct beneficiaries whom CORD contributes construction efforts and costs are selected from the following categories: Disabled, Single Women, Below Poverty Line, Scheduled Casts, Scheduled Tribes, or Other Backwards Classes. Beneficiaries must need a toilet for their household, and be motivated to aid in construction efforts.
Indirect beneficiaries include villagers who receive awareness and training on proper water and sanitation practices. They can then build their own toilets, soakage pits, garbage pits etc. on their own by taking loans from local Self Help Groups.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Currently we are operating the sanitation program with a grant from Lions Club international and Lions Club Dharamshala. The money is used to partially fund construction of toilets for the deserving. Other villagers who wish to build a toilet take loans from their local Self Help Groups/local banks.

Provide information on your finances and organization:

Until August 2007 we received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Chinmaya Mission Halton Region. Currently we are financially independent and rely solely on donors. Current donors include NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), Chinmaya Mission, Lions Club, and many other individual donors.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

In the developing world, most homes can benefit from clean water, and proper water and sanitation practices. In 2002 only 18% of India’s rural population had proper sanitation coverage, and water availability is still a demanding problem. Due to a shortage in man power and funding we spread awareness to create a demand for healthier living. We can then refer those who demand a better way of life to our upcoming developing villages in 30-35 focused Panchayats which can be replicated and spread.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

The nature of development is slow, continuous, and unpredictable. Development can move in many different directions based on the needs of the people, and is a gradual process. To nurture such an integrated program constant funding is needed.
Funding comes for limited periods of time, and for specific purposes. In order to run a multi pronged, integrated, and sustainable program, our funding must be constant and from many sources.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

In 1977, His Holiness Swami Chinmayanandaji, on of the greatest Vedanta Teachers of our time, founded the Chinmaya Tapovan Trust. This umbrella organization overseas the running of the Ashrams; and various spiritual, social and rural development projects carried out in numerous villages in India.
Inspired by the message of service taught by Swami Chinmayanandaji, the Chinmaya Primary Health Care & Training Center (known as CORD since 2005) was launched in 1985 under the aegis of the Chinmaya Tapovan Trust. This rural development project started as a token of love and gratitude towards the local Paharis who have supported the wanderings of Sadhus and Sages for countless centuries and generations.
What started as health care for the poor, and which included door-to-door visits to remote villagers where no government services could or would not reach, has metamorphosed into a veritable movement at the grass-roots with community based organizations playing the central role. Through a truly comprehensive integrated rural development programme, driven by the needs and the demands of the community, its nine program components leave no aspect of life untouched. From Health & Sanitation to Panchayati Raj and Participatory Natural Resources Management, from Micro-credit and Livelihood to Disability and Social Justice & Informal Legal Assistance to the poor, the Programme reaches out to thousands of people. CORD’s work that began in Himachal Pradesh 23 years ago is now being replicated in Orissa and Tamilnadu too since 2004.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Dr. Kshama Metre, d/o Late Shri W.B. Metre. Padma Bhushan 1968. Pediatrician by profession and inspired by Swami Chinmananandaji, a renowned spiritual teacher joined in 1985 the development work of CORD (earlier “Chinmaya Rural Primary Health Care & Traning Center), a national development organization, is now the National Director and Trustee. In 2004 featured in “Prophets of New India.” In 1993 nominated for Woman of the Year by “Week” magazine. Awarded Padma Shri in 2008 for social service.