Building the Playground

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Table of Contents:

1. Background
2. Design of Toilets
3. Composting
4. Construction -- Base & Vaults
5. Construction--Pad Fabrication
6. Construction--Superstructure
7. Finished!
8. Monitoring & Evaluation
9. EcoSan Resources


     A Playground for Kovalam

Play structure with slide and swings. Kovalam, Tamil Nadu, India
Completed March 2007 by students from Japan.

Each year, we take a group of students from Japanese universities to India where they learn about Indian culture, society and development. We spend much of our time in Kovalam, a fishing village located on the Bay of Bengal, only 40 km south of Tamil Nadu's largest city, Chennai.

Chennai (formally Madras) is a modern city of about 7 million people and home to India's automobile manufacturing industry, a growing IT sector and a film industry that rivals 'Bollywood.' As close as it is to Chennai, Kovalam remains much as it was before independence.

Kovalam BeachOf Kovalam's population of 6,000, half are children. It is divided into nine 'hamlets' based on caste or religion. The fishing colony is next to the beautiful beach and is often used as a backdrop for Tamil films.

Not all of Kovalam's hamlets are so picturesque, however. At the "back" of the village are four colonies of 'Dalits' or former untouchables.  These are the poorest of India's poor. Few have jobs, most of the men and many of the women are day-laborers and most families have incomes of less than $2 a day. Because we return with students each year to "study" Kovalam, we asked leaders of the Dalit community what we could do in return.  They said, "help us build a playground for our children, there are none in Kovalam."

The play structure pictured above was completed in March, 2007 in  Kotai Colony, one of the four Dalit colonies in Kovalam. For more about the construction, click here