Mr Rajkumar Sampath, Advisor FINISH Mondial, talks with veteran journalist, Chander Mahadev, about his experience in a project under the US AID Securing Water For Food Grand Challenge initiative, which aimed to recycle black and grey water and use the treated faecal sludge as agricultural input, benefitting close to 2000 vegetable growing farmers. The project was carried out by WASTE in partnership with RDO Trust and led to stunning results in the Nigiris district of Tamil Nadu with a majority of farmers reporting significant increases in crop yields and farm incomes, as well as greater resilience to weather and climate change events.

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Summary: The interview covers the obstacles and barriers faced in the project, including discussions with the local government bodies, construction of a faecal sludge treatment plant, revenue sharing, bringing together government officials and project workers, and creating a common understanding of the project as a social enterprise. Mr Sampath also discusses the faecal sludge management aspect of the project, which involved producing co-compost from human waste. He explains how the Ketty Resource Recovery Park (KRRP) became an educational hub for faecal management and how the project successfully combined solid and liquid waste to create a marketable product. He talks about the plan to remove the stigma attached to co-compost produced from human waste, which involved agricultural extension activities, transparency, sharing analysis reports, and arranging exposure visits to the RRP. Finally, Sampath also explains how using co-compost made from human waste can be a valuable resource for sustainable agricultural practices, and may be a good alternative for nutrient requirements in place of chemical fertilisers. In the Nilgiris, 68% of farmers saw an increase in their crop yield and better crop quality and survival rates with the use of this innovation. It addresses the combined problem of water scarcity and deteriorating soil productivity with one solution. The interview concludes by highlighting the success of the project in reaching out to 1,753 farmers with 691.650 tons of co-compost.

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