colours and different odours, but also of bad sanitary supply. This time Sven Riesbeck has been
accompanied by a quartet of students hungry to change something: Gregor (studying sustainable
geography) enriches the project with his school garden concept, Emin (studying MA sustainable
building) and Maria (BA architecture) have lot of ideas concerning building improvements and Liza
(BA Communication, studying education for art and german) supports primarily within the topic of
(menstrual) hygiene education.
Only short after their arrival in Pune and acclimation to the busy everyday life in India the team
started to work on the project. This involved meetings with Nitesh (Sevadham Trust) and the principal
of the Sevadham Trust Adivasi Ashramshala Residential School as well as a visiting the school. The
main focus of this first visit was to record the inventory and building defects. This resulted in a change
of the project planning and drafting of the contract. In order to improve the living conditions at the
school it is essential to take little steps accompanied by intensive trainings. The focus remains in the
areas of hygiene, sanitation and sleeping. Particularly striking was the realization that the school is
supported by different (earmarked) contributions, however, the conservation of value is not possible
due to lack of funds for maintenance and servicing. This resulted in the current status of the school
being a museum of failed projects and landscape of unfinished buildings.
In order to achieve a significant improvement in quality of life at the Sevadham Trust Adivasi
Ashramshala Residential School and not to be just another part in the museum of failed projects, the
following steps were taken in the first week:
1. Creation of a precise school inventory list
2. Detailed analysis of the structural defects
3. Accurate understanding of the school organization
4. Large evaluation with all teachers about the current problems
5. Mutual exchange of knowledge
6. Discussions and concrete solutions
Especially the detailed visit at the school was an eye-opener to the following deficiencies and
problems but also resulted in new ideas and solutions:
1. Hand washing: There are only two large hand basins without access to soap. This shows a
deficiency in the area of hand hygiene. Robust Tippy Taps at the entrance and in front of the
kitchen buildings as well as minimized costs for soap could be some first improvements.
2. Menstruation hygiene: Intended to address the problematic issue of menstrual hygiene a
own production of sustainable menstrual pads is going to be set up. Furthermore there is a
lack of teaching material concerning this topic. This could be created in co-work with the
3. Buildings: Floors and walls of the school buildings are very dirty. In a sanitary manner it is not
advisable to learn, sleep and eat in these rooms. A first simple step is therefore cleaning the
rooms. That also includes painting the walls (this work had been done 10 years ago). At best
there will also be a creative designing of the walls along with the school children.
4. Kitchen/ Store Rooms: The state of the store rooms for food is indescribable: The risk of
contamination of food by rat feces and larvae is alarming. After these impressions the team
refrained from the planned construction of the prototype house. Instead it was decided to
invest the money in the remodeling of the kitchen building to enhance the hygiene standards
of the school meals for all 400 school children.
5. Wastewater: Currently the latrine wastewater is being stored in two big tanks. Ones those
tanks are full the wastewater is being drained unfiltered in a ditch that goes past the wash
hand basins and into the school yard. That is a clear sign that the UDDT's must be built as
soon as possible in order to prevent a further use of the latrines and to get over the sewage
6. Water supply: Frequent power outages interrupt the water supply. Smaller self-sustaining
water circuits could be equipped with solar energy.
7. Maintenance: One of the biggest problems that the school is facing is the issue of maintaining
and repairing. There is a lack of knowledge and money. For this purpose a new position must
be created and funded.
8. Roof: Damages due to damp as well as holes and cracks in the roofs are in need of
improvements and repairs. In addition, solutions must be found to prevent the penetration of
monsoon rain through the ventilation openings.
9. Study rooms/ bedrooms: Unfurnished classrooms are used as learning and bedrooms. Hence
there is no storage space and comfort falls by the wayside. A sample room shall therefore
show intelligent multi-functional space solutions.
10. Garbage: Sources of bacteria are also found in the form of scattered garbage and dumpsites
on the school premises. Furthermore the waste water is also derived into those areas. A
container could be set up as a central waste collection point. Instead of burning the garbage,
a regular collection of the container must be ensured.
11. Storage: The storage of the school inventory resembles mostly a junk room. Many things are
broken and dusty. Furthermore it takes away valuable space. It is about time to clean up,
repair, remove and replace those things.
12. School Garden: Previous attempts of establishing more plants on the school premises failed
due to the neighbors gluttonous cows and the uncertain water supply during the dry season.
The involvement of farmers and scientifically monitored approaches to the implementation
and protection of a school garden will be done by Gregor as part of his university case study.
13. Grass clearing: In order to prevent the risk of snake bites their hiding places in the form of
high grass is removed by spraying poison regularly. Instead of using poison more
environmentally friendly solutions such as sand and gravel or the manual cleaning of the
area. The hired worker could be paid with the money saved for the poison.
14. Gas consumption: The kitchen has a high and therefore costly propane consumption. A solar
cooker would reduce the costs significantly .
A long list of problems is now being addressed with a lot of energy, drive and the courage to make a
difference. Another stay at the school is planned again for this week. Because of Diwali (similar to
Christmas in Germany) there are holidays and the school is empty. This is the best opportunity to
realize initial solutions. The next blog article informs about the next ventures and small and large
successes. Until then ... Happy Diwali!