TAMILNADU URBAN SANITATION SUPPORT PROGRAMME – WORLD TOILET DAY OBSERVATION 2017

The World Toilet Day observation at Narasimhanaicken-palayam and Periyanaickenpalayam was held on 17th & 19th of  November 2017. This time the World Toilet Day was celebrated with a theme which is very much in relation to our project goal, which is “wastewater”. The major objectives of the observation were to create awareness among the community on the importance of untreated wastewater, to increase recycling and safe reuse, involve youth champions as volunteers in promoting full sanitation value chain and to appreciate and encourage the work of de-sludge operators. On 17th, the event kick-started with a rally that emphasised the importance of untreated wastewater and to increase recycling and safe reuse through a short movie called “Kakka Man” on a display screen in few selected spots around the Town Panchayat. After the screening, a quiz contest was held for the public viewers relating to the movie and prizes were distributed for those who came up voluntarily to answer the questions. The two Kakka Man artists Mr. Miller and Mr. Shiva Kumar from Keystone, Kotagiri, were the centre of attraction. Their jovial interaction with the community through their performances kept the day more alive and tuned. Later, in the evening a stage awareness program was held at Narasimhanaickenpalayam Govt. School on promoting the importance of sanitation. Mr.Ravi – Narasimhanaickenpalayam Executive Officer, Mr. Arun – Local Leader, Mrs. Vanaja – Narasimhanaickenpalayam Government School Head Mistress, Mr. Niladiri Chakraborthi – Team leader of City TSU were present at the event. Ms. Elizabeth Prasanna – Social Worker welcomed the gathering with a short note on the importance of observing the World Toilet Day. Stand up comedy, dance and a skit with regard to sanitation was part of the agenda for the evening- to entertain the locals that gathered at the venue. World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day that is celebrated on the 19th of November, every year. It was established by the World Toilet Organisation in 2001. The idea behind this is to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis that remains unresolved. Negligence to this crisis has left detrimental effects on the environment and has also been a major cause of spreading killer diseases among infants and children. Observing World Toilet Day created a great opportunity for community engagement. Furthermore, it helped to inform the people residing in the intervention areas,  about the upcoming  Fecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP), that will be set up in Periyanaickenpalayam Town panchayat by next year (2018), in the month of January. As a part of this observation, a film that depicts the ‘Journey of poo’ was produced and will be realised shortly.  

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HCL grant – Hill waters and wetlands for communities and wildlife

One week ago, a final visit was made by Nidhi Pundhir – Director CSR, Head HCL Foundation and two consultants from Grant Thorton, delegated by HCL, visited Keystone to understand the project better. In January they will present our project to the final jury after which one organisation will receive the grant among the three, for each category. Conservation up to the present time has been a central component of Keystone Foundations’ work in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. In May 2017, the organisation had applied for the HCL Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) grant. This yearly grant has three major categories – Environment, Education and Health. Although Keystone works on all three subjects, we chose to apply for the ‘Environment’ category, as it is one of the cornerstones of our decade-long work in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. HCL had received 850 applications, out of which ten organisations were selected under each category, among which Keystone was one of the shortlisted organisations. In the month of August 2017, consultants delegated by HCL visited Keystone on a 2-day visit to get a better understanding of the organisation and the genre of work we do. They visited the proposed field areas that had been mentioned in the submitted project. Subsequent to their visit, our project was being elucidated to the jury, after which we were elected as one of the three finalists in the ‘Environment’ category. The main objective of the proposed project is to ensure water equity and water security for both, humans & wildlife. Two major factors were crucial for us to address this growing concern; they are – the water crisis in the Nilgiris despite having an ample number of wetlands and springs. The latter is the recent increase in the conflicts between human and wildlife due to competition for water. The project will have its focus on two landscapes, within which two specific areas in each landscape is where our work will be implemented. Several approaches will be adopted in order to sort the fundamental problem; that is water for humans & wildlife. Under the first landscape, the two areas that have been chosen are – Kotagiri and Kookalthorai valley. Kotagiri will have three focus areas Elada, Kotagiri town & Catherine waterfalls. In the past decade, the town has been under immense stress due to rapid urbanisation, persistent land use change and increased economic activity. All of these are affecting the water resources considering the fact that it continues to function with the ancient infrastructure that has become inefficient in managing the waste that is being produced due to the above activities. In terms of interventions, the project will identify wetlands in the area and determine the scope of conservation efforts which will involve communities and stakeholders. Two key wetlands will be identified in Kotagiri that will be converted into wetland parks. These parks will serve as a model to raise awareness on the significance of wetlands and will also implement eco-restoration efforts that will protect these wetlands from depletion and exploitation. Waste management will also be an important aspect which the project will focus on. The Kookalthorai valley is the second sub-area under the first landscape. The prime reason this area was chosen is that of the chemical-intensive agricultural practices carried on in this region that has left adverse effects on the quality of water thereby contaminating the downstream flow besides increasing competition of water resources between humans and wildlife. Promoting organic farming and by providing a market through our spin-off (Last Forest Pvt.ltd), rejuvenating the streams through eradicating invasive and encroachments, training locals for advocacy and monitoring wildlife will be some of the interventions in this area. The second landscape will represent the mid-slopes of Nilgiris. Under this landscape, the two sub-areas will be the Aracode region and the tribal villages situated below this region. The recognised issues in these areas are lack of perennial water sources which has increased competition among communities, wildlife, and estates that have resulted in conflicts. The lower region is the most affected as the water that flows downstream is highly contaminated when it reaches the Moyar River on which the tribal hamlets in the Moyar valley depend upon. Identifying key water sources and adopting systems for water retention, training tribals to regularly monitor the water resources & wildlife movement, and partnering with NGO’s and forest department to declare it a chemical free zone through awareness programmes are some of the interventions that will be applied here.

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Community Forest Rights Training in the Aracode region:

On the 24th of October 2017, Forest Rights Act (FRA) training for communities in the Aracode region was held. It is situated on the Northern slopes of the Nilgiris. The region consists of tribal hamlets with an estimated population of 2000. The training was held with a purpose to assist the communities in mapping the forest land that they will want to have access to. There are nine villages in the aracode region- (Garikyur, Bangalapadigai, Samigudyal, Vakanamaram, Mudiyur, Kokode, Bavikarai, Chakapadigai & Pongamokai). Among these nine villages Mudiyur, Kokode, Bavikarai, Chakapadigai & Pongamokai have only an average of four to five families residing in each of them. These villages do not have an individual Forest Rights Committee (FRC) to advocate for them. The training also had its focus on providing support to the small villages with the help of the other FRCs. Community Forest Rights (CFR) is an essential element for indigenous communities. Communities have been depending on the forest in the past. Besides providing them with the right to utilize the forests for collecting food, medicines etc; it also helps to ameliorate the living standards of the whole community by giving them an option for livelihoods rather than depending on day labour jobs and it further strengthens local governance of forest and natural resources. Under the Forest Rights Act 2006, it is mandatory for every village to have a FRC. They will be responsible for mapping the forest land they use, submitting claims and in following up with the respected officials. Once this is completed, the community will be eligible according to the law to have access to the forest for collection and for livelihoods purposes. In Vakanamaram, there are a total of 23 families. They depend on the forest for collecting non-timber forest produce for revenue and for their own consumption as well. Out of these, six families work on coffee plantations as day wage labours for their subsistence. After obtaining CFRs, these families can use the forest to collect produce that can be sold for revenue. People living in communities largely claim only for Individual Forest rights (IFR) rather than rights for the entire community. The training also focused on encouraging the community to claim CFRs that shall benefit the entire community rather than individuals. With the presence of Aadhimlai Pazhangudiyinar tribal producer company, an accessible market is readily available for them to sell the produce they grow or collect. Similarly, in Bangalapadigai, there are 26 families residing in the village. Most of them practice millet cultivation which has been the traditional practice. Considering the area being a rain shadow region, millet is the most suitable crop to be grown beside its cultural significance. It not only provides these communities with revenue but also with nutrition, fodder for cattle etc; the village also has PGS (a decentralized organic farming certified system) farmers that grow coffee and pepper. Sivraj – Community Coordinator and resident of Bangalapadigai says ‘the community at present have pattas for three acres and thirty cents, but adjacent to it, there are 80 acres of land that they have been claiming patta for more than two decades’. It is beyond belief that despite winning the case in 1993 at the district court, the community still hasn’t received pattas for the land. The training was attended by representatives of each village. Villagers and representatives from all the nine villages got together to map the forest area, in such a way that it will be accessible for all the communities in the region. The claims will be submitted to the officials by next week says P. Chandran (Additional Coordinator), who has been facilitating and conducting FRA training for indigenous communities. Additionally, they will also meet the forest officials to reach an agreement in regard to the Village Forest Management Committee, who will be managing the part of the forest that they have claimed rights for.  

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A little boy with dreams and an ambitious mind

When people take little steps in little places, they can change the world and inspire many. From the forest of Sathyamanagalam, Vishu Mani, a young man chose his path to inspire many. He was born to a farmer in Gali Dhimbam – an Irula Settlement in the Sathyamangalam Taluka. Unaware of his innate talents, he started pursuing engineering at the Erode Senguthar Engineering College in the year 2013. After his first year, he was forced to discontinue due to personal circumstances. He spent his days contemplating and procrastinating for almost a year on what he would pursue next. Meanwhile, the conservation team at Keystone raised funds to conduct the Youth Environmental Leadership Programme (YELP) in association with Dusty Foot Productions, India in 2015. The idea behind this programme was to train young indigenous students on different elements of making films on the environment. A wide search for young people among the communities that Keystone works in took place. Vishu was one among 11 students that were chosen to participate in the month-long course. When asked if  he had ever dreamt of making films on the environment, he says ‘I accepted to be a part of this training to keep me away from boredom and also the excitement to learn a new skill pushed me to pursue it, however halfway through the programme, I fell in love with the camera’. During the programme, students were split into three groups and were assigned the task of making a short film in relation to the environment. The first film that Vishu made was titled ‘Water – the giver of life’. The film speaks about how water nurtures all forms of life and magnifies the importance of water. He says ‘This was the first time that I had ever been a part of a film, I realised that it was something that I wanted to pursue ever since’. He also mentioned how at times he would spend time fiddling with the camera, trying to understand what the machine is capable of capturing. He was content with the output he had produced along with his team and hoped for more, but the training programme came to a conclusion at the end of February 2015. He returned to his village, with overwhelming joy of learning a new skill and more importantly the reduced burden of what he will be pursuing as a career. Abhishek, Additional Programme Coordinator (Conservation), one among many who appreciated the young boys’ talent was keen to help improve Vishus’ capacity. He was offered another opportunity to showcase his talent as a photographer. He was given the chance to photograph products of Last Forest Enterprise Pvt.ltd, the spin-off Keystone Foundation. Vishus’ ability was soon appreciated by many and his photographs have been on the cover of Last Forest Annual Reports for the past two years. He currently works across programmes at Keystone, documenting and filming projects, events, and training that are being held at Keystone. Vishu is ‘the-go-to-man’ at Keystone for spectacular, rich and high-quality pictures. Furthermore, he has been working on several films in the past year. He has made a film on Barefoot Ecology, along with his YELP mates Devraj, Meena and Guruswamy. Together, they have been working on Independent films as well. One of the films is regarding the Sholiga Community residing in the Punanjanur region and their agricultural practices. He is currently finishing a film on the water programme at Keystone which is due to be released next month. He is also working with Abhishek on his film ‘Muchi, Kotu, Makal’ – a film that depicts the traditional music and instruments of the Irula community in Pillur.  While shooting the breeze with Vishu, I asked him what kind of films he wants to make? With all possible haste, he says ‘Films, no I want to make documentaries, documentaries on challenges that the indigenous people face in the present world’. We at Keystone realise that it is important to empower the youth to arise and act, as they have the strength and dynamism to generate a significant transformation in the society. Besides Vishu; three other students- Meena, Devaraj and Guruswamy from the YELP batch continue to work with Keystone.  

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Training of Trainers – Survey and Mapping of Invasive Plants of the Nilgiris Watershed

A 2-day workshop using the training-of-trainers model was held at Keystone Foundation on the 20th and 21st of September 2017. The purpose of the training was to help the trainers to develop their knowledge on survey, mapping and use of Open Data Kit (ODK) forms through theoretical and practical learning that will help them deliver the course effectively. The instructors for the course were, Shiva Subramanya and Milind Bunyan from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). Besides them, Samuel Thomas and Anbuarasan form World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India, N. Mohan Raj- Honorary Wildlife Warden (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve), Venkitachalam from ATREE and Subash and Manikandan from Shola Trust-Gudalur and Keystone staff, were a part of the workshop. The first day of the workshop was designed for more theoretical sessions in relation to Open Data Kit (ODK) – Introduction, Basics, and the process to design an ODK form. It was followed by a session that focused on the different methods of survey that will be adopted in due course of action. Earlier, in the first phase of the course, there were close to eighty species that were identified as invasive or alien species in the Nilgiris Watershed region. During the workshop, a final list of twenty-seven species was finalized by the group, depending on their density, growth rate and their negative impacts on the landscapes and biodiversity. They have also come up with a plan to produce a small booklet on invasive plants that will help as a field guide, by November. On the Second day, trainees and trainers set out to the field (Kodanadu) to practically learn and understand plot transect, test out the methodologies and familiarize themselves with the ODK forms. The team has settled on the guidelines for the methodology, which will be shared with all groups. In respect to the proposed geography, it is split into 4 zones. Each zone will be allocated to one group. ‘Zone A’ will cover the Western and Northern Landscapes- from Naduvattam and below going up to Theppakadu. Shola Trust, Gudulur will be involved to work on this zone. ‘Zone B’ will cover the Northern and North Eastern region (Sigur, Moyar, Bhavani Sagar, Galidhimbham, Aracode slopes). WWF will be working on this zone. ‘Zone C’ will have its focus on the Western catchments (Ooty plateau, Coonoor slopes, Konavakkarai slopes) and will involve Keystone. And the final ‘Zone D’ will focus on the Southern part of Nilgiris (Mettupalayam, Kallar, Pillur) in which the ATREE team will be involved to work on it. Geographical Gridlines (10x10km) along three one kilometre long transect within each grid are drawn on the atlas of the Nilgiris watershed. The mapping and recording of invasive plants will be carried out on these transect. This will help to easily locate places and prioritize the focus area. The idea behind this to obtain a map that will depict each species, grid-wise, which will give us a clear sight of the spread and help in setting up priority in management. The team is looking to collaborate with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and make them an active partner. Their personnel will be involved in this study according to their region and the zones allocated. In the next phase, the trained personnel will put into action this methodology and begin mapping and recording of invasive plants. They will work along with the locals and residents of the region. This study will be carried out over three months, until December 2017.

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Stakeholder Consultation Workshop on Sustainability of Ecosystem Services

A Stakeholder Consultation meeting on Sustainability of Ecosystems Services was held in Coimbatore on the 19th of September, 2017. This meeting was organised as a first step in preparing an urban Green Print for Coimbatore city. The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Keystone Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have established a partnership to work together on this project. The objective of the planning study is to identify interventions that will help conserve and restore the natural infrastructure of Coimbatore. Different stakeholders that have been working towards the same goal were a part of the meeting. Besides them, Alpana Jain from TNC, Amir Bazaz from IIHS and Pratim Roy from Keystone Foundation were present. In the recent past, the city has been under immense stress due to unplanned urban expansion, population growth that has resulted in congested housing and increased pollution caused by industrial and agricultural activities. All of these leave negative effects on water bodies, air, and proximate forests that comprise twenty percent of the district. The meeting began with a brief introduction on TNC, Keystone and IIHS that are a part of this project. A panel, with Pratim Roy as a moderator, and four panellists; Mr. Kalidasan (OSAI), Mr.S. Baskar (IC for Governance), Mr. Mylswamy (Siruthuli) and Mr. Gopalakrishnan (Smart city planning), addressed the gathering on the topic ‘understanding Sustainability concerns in Coimbatore’. Mr. Kalidasan from OSAI, an environmental organisation in Coimbatore that works on water bodies, spoke about the transformation that has taken place in the city; he said ‘only to prevent unwanted flooding, surplus water from the Noyal river were channelled to the tanks. Back then, it was not a perennial river, it was only a seasonal river’. He pointed out; with reference to the 1927 Gazette report from the Madras Presidency, ‘Coimbatore had poor facilities for water and sanitation, only after the Siruvani dam was built, regular supply of drinking water was ensured’. He also mentioned the importance of conserving the catchment areas in the WG to prevent water scarcity in the future. The water crisis has been a growing concern in the city for the past five years. This year was the first time in nine decades that the water supply for the city was at a halt, even though it (Siruvani) dries up during the summer season, it always rejuvenates. Groundwater quality has been deteriorating due to, both natural and anthropogenic impacts. Mr. S. Baskar representing Initiatives for Change (IC) Center for Governance (non-profit Educational Trust) speaking at the event, said ‘Fifty years back, the land was used for agriculture, tanks were used for drinking purposes, but due to unplanned developments the tanks are no longer available for economic development activity’. Lately, the city has also been witnessing a rise in temperature during summer, each year. Many suggest that this is caused due to reduced green cover. Numerous trees on the Mettupalayam Highway, Pollachi – Coimbatore road and Avinashi road have been cut down in the last decade. Given that all 3 organisations are working on climate change or associated with the subject through programmes that are interlinked, increasing green cover to impact climatic conditions in the city will be paid heed, through this project. Coimbatore is one of the fastest growing metro cities surrounded by forest ranges. Coimbatore Forest Division is spread over 690 sq km in six ranges, of which 400 sq km is prone to man-animal conflict. The division has 58 villages and 315 route km of forest boundary. Two places where man-animal conflicts are being witnessed are the Thadamgam valley and Naickenpalayam area, both being elephants’ migratory path. This project will also focus on mitigating conflicts and improving urban forest management, as they play an important role in the ecology of human habitats in many ways. Later, open discussions were held during which several suggestions were voiced out by citizens, local administration officials, Municipal officers and many others that were present. Pratim Roy speaking at the event said ‘In terms of institutions, there are so many role players in the city with the ability to influence the situation. Strength and entrepreneurship lie with the citizens. It is important to identify how to bring nature back into the system’. The district is blessed with forest, hills, rivers and wildlife. It is surrounded by the Western Ghats (WG) mountain range on the West and the North. The Southern part of the city is formed by the Noyal River. The river emerges from Vellingiri Hills in the WG that passes through Coimbatore and Tirupur and finally drains into the Kaveri river in Noyyal (a village situated on the banks of Noyal river), Karur district. The Palghat gap provides the districts’ boundary on the eastern side. IIHS, Keystone Foundation and TNC are together committed to restore the city’s health in an integrated and ecologically sensitive way. A second Consultation stakeholder’s workshop is being planned in the coming months.  Meanwhile, a draft which will incorporate the suggestions recommended during the meeting will be formulated. The second consultation workshop will involve more stakeholders that influence decision-making at the policy level.

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An Atlas of the Invasive Plants of the Nilgiris Watershed

Keystone Foundation in collaboration with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature –India proposed to undertake a participatory appraisal of the status of Invasive Alien Species of the Nilgiris watershed region.  Keystone with its 25-year presence in the landscape, ATREE with its technical expertise on Invasion Biology and WWF – India with its subject and landscape skills in conservation collaborated to create an ‘Atlas of the Invasives of the Nilgiris Watershed. In order to achieve this, a series of trainings will be conducted until next year. So, as a part of this series, an introductory course was conducted from August 29th – September 1st at Keystone Field Ecology Centre – Sathyamangalam. The focus of this course was to train and guide the participants to grasp the essential facts of Invasive plants, how to recognize them, practically understand research methodologies, mapping and learning sustainable management and control techniques to eradicate such species. A total of 22 participants from different backgrounds like students, Forest personnel etc. attended the course. There were 4 resource person that were part of this training – Anita Varghese, Ph.D. and Shiny .M. Rehel, Ph.D. from Keystone Foundation, Ankila Hiremath, Ph.D. from ATREE and Samuel Thomas from WWF India. The participants were given an introduction to Invasive species that grow in the region and how they can identify them depending on their appearance and characteristics. They were split into three groups with one instructor for each group to guide them. The groups were assigned to complete three tasks – Listing, mapping the density and interacting with the community to learn the linkages of the invasive plants with animals and the landscape. During the research phase, they were taught how to adopt an approach and frame relevant questions that will make the research constructive, and finally, how to consolidate the data obtained during the course. There are multitudes of reasons how invasive species was introduced in India and in various parts of the world. In the Nilgiri Region, most of them were brought as ornamental plants during the British period. These invasive species have become a growing concern in the Nilgiri Biosphere that poses great threat to the local ecosystem, its functions and affects the biodiversity present in the region. Some are a major threat to the native vegetation as they proliferate, which in turn causes less fodder for the herbivores that results in loss of habitat, some are considered to have negative effect on one’s health (eg: Parthenium hysterophorus)  and in some cases they are proved to cause conflicts between man and wildlife. The idea behind this collaboration is to be able to curb the damage caused by the alien species. The second phase will be an intensive training for identifying and mapping of invasive plants will be held towards the end of September, for more updates and registration process, stay tuned with us on http://www.facebook.com/keystonefoundation.

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Technology to helps us monitor, understand and live with the Gaur

In recent years, most regions in the Nilgiris are witnessing Gaur moving around in urban spaces like households, tea estates & agricultural fields and in some incidents even busy roads. Questions have been raised as to what has led to this situation, but the answers are still being deciphered. Several interpretations have been made in the recent past, but solutions to help us co-exist with them or vice versa in order to avoid conflicts are yet to prove effective. On September 9th, Keystone Foundation conducted a workshop ‘Living with Gaur’ for the residents, students and the Forest Department of Nilgiris. The workshop had a dual purpose; one was to bring- in different stakeholders under one forum to share their perspectives, suggestions in order to have a collective approach to mitigate rising conflicts between Humans and Gaurs.  The second reason was to promulgate the Gaur application for Android phones, an in-house fabrication to help us monitor gaur and their movement patterns. The session began at 10:00 a.m at the HADP Hall, in Ooty. Abhishek K.R, Additional Programme Coordinator (Conservation) along with Malavika. H. Narayana, Subject Manager (Research) conducted the sessions at the event. They spoke about identification and behaviour of the gaur to help the audience learn how to identify them viz. Difference in the shape of the horns, its dorsal ridge, dewlaps (a fold of loose skin hanging from the neck or throat) to identify the sex; skin colour, appearance to find out the age. Malavika spoke at length about wildlife management and its approach in understanding how animals have a deep connection with nature. In order to achieve this, it is important to observe their behaviour, interactions within themselves and when they’re around other species, foraging, movement and so on. Human disturbance has a large influence on wildlife behaviour. At many instances, we have noticed that the seasonal crowd are absolutely unaware and are still looking at these animals in the lens of a dog or cat. It is important to understand the needs and logic of these beings. The team here at Keystone that has been researching on gaur noticed that the animal behaves differently when shown aggression, which is often the reason for conflicts.  Abhishek said, “Every time aggression is shown by one person, the animal tends to think of humans as a foe and it attacks the next time a passerby walks in close proximity to the animal”.  Murugan- Forest Guard from Kotagiri Range, speaking at the event said “A little patience is needed when we come across the gaur, the animal doesn’t harm us at once, and conflict doesn’t happen at once, it always takes time”. After intense discussions, ideas were floated around; a brief session to introduce the application was held. ‘The Gaur’ application was developed  by Reul John, a student with a passion for programming, but also boredom during the summer before he went off to college convinced him to take it up. This led Abhishek to bring his idea to reality. He has been doing his research on Gaur for the past three years by following, observing and understanding the gigantesque elegant herbivore. The application was designed to manage the conflict situation jointly and for pre-empting conflicts. Through this application which has simple entries such as, location, time of spotting, date, sex, age and other observations if any, we can create a volunteer base of students and citizens to assist the Forest Department. The application will provide us with ample data to better understand why and where the conflicts are happening and hopefully give us new perspectives that were never considered before. Similar workshops are to be held in Coonoor and Kotagiri in the following months. As we receive data, the team at Keystone has planned to share it through maps and also make it more user friendly and incorporate suggestions given at the event.

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TNUSSP assessing Vulnerability of slums in Coimbatore

This month, a slum vulnerability assessment was conducted as a part of the Project- Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP). Keystone has been working on this Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) project since December 2015 along with three other organisations (IIHS, Gramalaya, CDD) that were commissioned to implement the programme via Technical Support Unit (TSU) within the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department (MAWS). The TSU’s help the State Govt. and cities in making improvements along the entire urban sanitation chain in their planning, implementation, and monitoring process. The study area for TNUSSP project in Coimbatore district constitutes of two town panchayats – Periyanaickenpalayam and Narasimhanaickenpalayam, situated 17 km north of Coimbatore city. The assessment was carried out in 11 slums across the towns. The population size of the town panchayats studied in Coimbatore ranges between 8,600 and 26,000 with an average household size of 4, which is equal to the State average. Poor hygiene due to lack of adequate sanitation facilities is prevalent in the towns. This lack of sanitation has far-reaching effects: it imposes significant public health and environmental costs on urban areas. Despite challenges faced in other basic necessities like electricity, roads and safe housing, the lack of access to adequate water and sanitation and unhygienic living conditions besides poor levels of government intervention remain the major concerns. This leads to a range of diseases like under-nutrition, physical weakness etc. The objective of the assessment is to identify the most vulnerable slums in these two town panchayats. This assessment would help in prioritizing efforts and in optimal use of available limited resources. The approach adopted for this assessment is by collecting slum level primary data. This was done through participatory observations of the slum and by conducting a group discussion with the community members that gave us a better insight. There were certain identified parameters on which the assessment was being carried out, such as, the location of the slum and its surroundings, condition of road that leads to the slum, type of housing and its drainage system. This has been done on the basis of observation. Apart from this, there are several other factors that played a crucial role in assessing the vulnerability of the slums; like source of water, type of toilet facility, literacy status, child labour, service coverage. This is obtained through group discussion with the community. With the collected data that were collected, each of those indicators will be scored on a scale of 0-2. Based on the cumulative score the slums will be categorized into three categories namely, least vulnerable, moderately vulnerable and most vulnerable. The end result will provide us information that shall help us recognize the most vulnerable slums that requires attention and immediate action. Further intervention is being planned in the coming months that shall enhance and speed up the implementation process.

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Keystone Foundation
Keystone Centre, PB 35
Groves Hill Road, Kotagiri 643 217
The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India

Telefaxes: +91 (04266) 272277, 272977
Email: kf[at]keystone-foundation[dot]org

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