Building a Model Eco-village in Kathua

The Need
Kathua district in the south-west of J&K faces recurring sustainability and resilience issues. As one of the largest in the district, Buddhi was chosen as a model village. The idea was to demonstrate safe and environmentally-sustainable practices.

How we helped
Keeping inter-connected risks in mind, a two-pronged initiative was conceived. Govt. High School, Buddhi, a local government school, was in bad condition. It became the fulcrum to demonstrate safer construction techniques to the larger community. The second was a broader engagement with community on environmental sustainability.

With little maintenance over the years, seepage and water damage had badly affected the school buildings. Toilets were broken or inaccessible, with open urination being a common occurrence. 517 students of this school were studying in a suboptimal learning environment.

All six blocks of the school premises were restored. Drinking water facilities and colourful renovated toilet blocks were added.

Aside from the external and internal wall plastering, roof repair and waterproofing that was common to almost the blocks, some had some unique interventions that were added. One block, for example, needed the walls to be re-erected. As this occurred, new window openings and brick jallis (screens) were artfully incorporated. The roof was re-designed with a one-way slope that allows for better air circulation and reduces build-up of heat in the classroom.

Rainwater harvesting
Despite being a water surplus district, inadequate water management leads to scarcity. A rainwater harvesting mechanism was installed to help resolve this problem, and showcase the practice. It was designed to be fed by dual sources – both rain and the local pond to make it functional all-year round. The water passes through a filter comprising layers of stone gravel, charcoal and sand. The filtered water is then collected in an underground storage tank with a capacity of 10,000 litres. The tank itself is designed with a skylight, using solar light purification techniques.

Leaving a mark
The renovated Govt. High School has attracted interest from families in the community, even resulting in new enrolments for the new year. Other schools in the area began asking for similar interventions. Waterproofing, a previously alien concept, is now generating more interest.

Learn more about this initiative