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Introducing individual latrines and smokeless cook stoves – Improving livelihoods in the village of Govupeta, India

Multiple Authors

Cooking facilities before introduction of smokeless chullahs

The coastal community of Govupeta in Andhra Pradesh with its 345 inhabitants lacked proper sanitation – latrines were unavailable. Women used a field owned by the Municipal Corporation as open defecation ground, while the men used the beach area. Open defecation poses severe health risks and leads to a deterioration of the water catchment area, making it unsafe. The women’s health in the village was also affected as they used country chullahs. These stoves run on firewood, emitting large quantities of smoke during cooking. Being dependent on firewood not only affected the families’ financial situation as the price of firewood has been rising. Lumbering has accelerated the erosion of soil, which can give way to mud slides and decreasing agricultural productivity. Climate change aggravates health risks associated with deficient sanitation, such as vector-borne disease, as well as soil erosion.

Supported by the EU-financed AdaptCap project, the community decided to introduce a new latrine and sanitation scheme. Over 80 dual pit individual latrines were installed throughout the village and the community decided where they were going to be located. The design of the dual pit sanitary latrines is based on the low-cost models designed by UNICEF in the 1980s. The latrine consists of two pits. While one is being used the other pit is sealed to undergo the process of composting without new human waste being added. The human waste in the pit transforms into fertilizer over a period of 12 months. The capacity of the latrines is suitable for a household of up to six persons. The pits are shallow with a depth of 1 m. This adaption measure prevents unsafe open defecation for women and men and avoids the contamination of water sources within the village as well as in the downstream village of Chukkavani Palem.

Energy efficient smokeless ‘Envirofit’ chullahs were distributed to 80 families who were using inefficient traditional concrete or mud stoves. They were not given to families currently using gas stoves. Both programmes include education materials, posters and demonstrations. These stoves consume 50 % less firewood and reduce the smoke by 90 % compared to the old stoves. This improves everyday life for the women as it reduces the drudgery of collecting firewood from distant places and it prevents health problems related to the respiratory system.

Key benefits of the measure in Govupeta are:

  • Improve health and safety of women: 52 sanitary latrines and 80 cooking stoves already provide better sanitary conditions, improving user’s overall health as well as safety, particularly that of women and children.
  • Reduce amount of firewood used: 900 kg of firewood is saved by each family who now use a smokeless chullah.
  • Reduce GHG emissions: The smokeless, energy efficient stoves reduce the community’s annual CO2 emissions by 134 tons (based on estimated data collected from 25 families).
  • Reduce pollution of water catchment area: Providing sanitary latrines has helped gain an additional 25 acres that were formerly used for open defecation and gain more acreage for a safe catchment area.

Implementation costs

The overall costs of the sanitation measure – including a local vulnerability and needs assessment, capacity building measures in the community, technical support as well as material and labour costs – amounted to Rs. 520,000. Of these, Rs. 286,000 were borne by AdaptCap while the community contributed Rs. 234,000. Introducing the smokeless chullahs led to costs of Rs. 52,000, which were fully covered by AdaptCap.

Operation & maintenance of the system

In order to remain operative in the long run, several parts of the system require regular operation and maintenance (O&M). Regular O&M activities include:

  • Checking of slab and super structure for cracks and attending to necessary repairs
  • Yearly transfer of the human waste from one pit to the other
  • Removal of fertilizer from the tank
  • Repairs to doors, ventilator if necessary and replacement of parts
  • Cleaning and removal of dust and smoke as well as replacement of parts for smokeless stoves

The community members are trained in the operation and maintenance of the latrines and stoves. The average monthly costs for the O&M activities of sanitary latrines are Rs. 50 per family, the maintenance of the stoves costs Rs.10 per family.

M&E of activities and benefits

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was developed to regularly screen and assess the adaptation project’s sustainability and impact. Information is collected in four areas:

  • Effectively achieved vulnerability reduction
  • Acceptance by and technical feasibility for the community
  • Cost for implementation and regular O&M
  • Positive and negative side effects (i.e., environmental, social, economic)

Challenges and lessons learnt

  • Educate the community well before initiating new technologies like dual pit water seal latrines, smokeless, energy efficient stoves etc.
  • Ensure a strong buy-in by the community and local authorities for the measure to achieve efficient and sustainable implementation.
  • Community participation should be ensured throughout all phases of such an initiative. Pilot monitoring committees took an active part in the procurement of materials and skilled workers for the construction of latrine. This helped establish the communities’ ownership over the adaptation measure.
  • Determine whether previous efforts towards adaptation measure have already been made by the community or parts thereof. Some families had already started constructing sanitary latrines a year or two years ago but had to relinquish the works because of lacking resources. The works on the rudimentary latrines were pursued within the scope of the AdaptCap project and the latrines completed.
  • Ensure contractor adheres to time schedule to avoid a rise in prices for the material required. Work was delayed as prices of material such as sand, bricks etc. had gone up, so the contractor waited in the hope that prices would stabilize again. Follow-up efforts to accelerate the work have been made with the contractor.

Smokeless chullahs in use

Project background and partners

The project “AdaptCap – Strengthening Adaptation Capacities and Minimizing Risks of Vulnerable Coastal Communities in India” financed by the European Commission has set out to strengthen the adaptation capacities of vulnerable coastal communities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (India) and minimize their climate change-related risks using an integrated approach.

The three-year initiative is implemented by the Indo-German Environment Partnership Programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ-IGEP) in partnership with four Indian and international partners.

GIZ-IGEP is responsible for the overall implementation and project management.

Academy of Gandhian Studies (AGS) supports the stakeholders in three cities and nine villages in Andhra Pradesh as a local partner, providing training and implementation support in assessing adaptation needs and developing and carrying out adaptation measures.

AVVAI Village Welfare Society (AVVAI) fulfils the same role in Tamil Nadu.

adelphi contributed to developing technology solutions for the pilot projects and M&E frameworks, designing and implementing capacity building programmes and providing technical support for pilot project implementation.

ICLEI South Asia led the implementation of activities in the six urban areas targeted by AdaptCap.

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