Posted on Feb 25, 2019
A Visit to the village of Jhimarpur, India

 WASRAG Ambassador Dilip Mirchandani is a great advocate for water and sanitation projects in his area, but he knows that more toilets are not the full answer for a lot of villages. He promotes an "Adopt a Village" philosophy to help the village get out of their poverty situation. There is a staggering number of people that Jeffery Sachs calls “The poverty trap”. They want to work and improve their situation, but are so poor that it is impossible for them to extract themselves.


A Visit to the village of Jhimarpur, India
On Monday 15 January, PDG Deepak Talwar & WASRAG Ambassador Dilip Mirchandani did a project site visit. The following is Ambassador Mirchandani's report on the trip. 
I set out to visit the project site on the outskirts of Delhi. After a dusty drive of one and a half hours, we finally broke through the city limits & arrived in a green agricultural area. A sign identified the village as “Jaunty”. However, this was not, in fact, the final destination. A narrow field road on the right led to a second & even smaller village-the village of Jhimarpur.
This is a village of outcasts, a remnant of the caste system of India. The inhabitants are descendants of the unfortunates that were thrown out of the village of Jaunty 200 years ago & forced to make their own dwellings, where they live in abject poverty to this day.
There are 500 people (100 families in this village) all working the fields owned by landowners. The average income is INR 150 per day, equivalent to $2 US per day. 
The local municipality has provided electricity & drinking water but no plumbing of any kind. Ten toilets have been built, financed by private benefactors & associations. Eighty toilets are still to be built. These will be provided by this Rotary project.
As there is no sewage system, two soak pits are constructed side by side. It takes three years for one to fill, after which the pit is disconnected & the second pit comes into use. It takes three years for the filled pit to subside after which it can be put into use again.
During a meeting with the Panchayat of the village ( 5 aldermen who represent the village), I asked the question as to what their greatest need was. The immediate reply was “Toilets!” It appears that till now the villagers (as in many other villages) have been defecating in the open causing unhygienic conditions leading to sickness & disease. 
The closest dispensary is at Jaunty where a government doctor provides free consultations once a week. The closest hospital is at Bhawana, 10-12 kms away where individuals holding a BPL card (Below Poverty Level) can be treated for free.
Whilst the building of toilets is an absolute necessity. It does not address the main problem of the village. That of the “Poverty Trap”. These villagers are confined to existence at the subsistence
To provide a sustainable solution to the problem, the income level of the villagers needs to be raised to a level permitting an escape from the exploitation of the zamindars (landowners).
I, therefore, find it advisable to adopt a long term approach to this project by following it up by a second project providing a sustainable future for this village.
Remembering the first project of our club in Bhachau, Gujarat, we had provided ovens to bake bread and mechanical apparatus to produce cardboard boxes used to pack sweetmeats as well as file making equipment all of which resulted in a regular income for the community.
In the nearby village of Jaunty, the Rotary has already provided sewing machines & stitching lessons for the women of the village.
I am however of the opinion that the following proposals may prove to be the most effective:
1)  A 
low-cost bio-gas plant using excrement to produce gas for cooking. This will also obviate the necessity for the villagers to cut wood for use as fuel
2)  A manually operated brick press to produce bricks for building decent dwellings (the dwellings seen by us were truly appalling. Such a brick press has been developed by a Belgian Rotarian & does need firing in an oven. The press is also manually operated. It can be used by the villagers to produce bricks for new housing and the surplus production could be sold to generate income for the village
3)  Setting up of a cooperative society for selling produce
4)  Micro-credits for the promotion of entrepreneurship
Dilip Mirchandani, WASRAG Ambassador