The 18th of October proved to be a remarkable day for one of our local partners in India. Earlier this month, long-time friend and colleague, Mr. N. K. Perumal, Founder of the Rural Development Organization (RDO) Trust, woke up to an invitation to participate in a private round table discussion as a part of the recent Netherlands Trade Mission and state visit of the King and Queen to India.
With the Mission’s focus on agriculture, water and health tech, it is unsurprising to us at WASTE, that Mr. Perumal was selected for this exclusive event in Cochin. Supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our collaborative FINISH and Securing Water for Food (SWFF) programmes with partners RDO Trust and FINISH Society in India, have made great advances in the re-use of both solid and liquid waste, improving sanitation and livelihoods of farmers and waste workers (just to name a few!). Without a doubt, RDO Trust’s activities in the Nilgiris have caught the attention of both Dutch and Indian governments.
Courageous and ambitious as ever, Mr. Perumal reports to have stolen the attention of the royal company amongst a meeting of 40, where he alone was representing the NGO sector.
A shining advocate of this work, he was able to give an impassioned pitch of the collaborative achievements directly to the Dutch King and Queen themselves. Knowing of Queen Maxima’s interest and work in the area of financial inclusion (having served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development since 2009) and King Willem-Alexander’s
on water-related issues, Mr. Perumal first highlighted the ongoing innovations in grey and black water recycling for the benefit of vegetable-growing farmers, which he notes in the three years of the SWFF programme, is estimated to save a total of 100 million litres of household wastewater. He also spoke on the success of faecal sludge management and toilet construction activities that were achieved with the support of Dutch Ambassador to India, Ambassador Marten van den Berg. This year, in collaboration with RDO Trust and FINISH teams, we are celebrating the construction of 1 million toilets, approx. 170 tonnes of human waste converted into co-compost and over € 150 million in investments for sanitation improvements.
Though we are not sure if the King and Queen will find time to accept the invitation to visit RDO’s operations in the Nilgiris, we have a feeling that the pitch certainly caught their attention. On their exit, they took a detour to shake Mr. Perumal’s hand and congratulate him personally on these achievements.
We are honored to have such passionate, ambitious and rebellious partners and advocates in this field and around the world. Moments like this encourage us to keep pushing forward and we congratulate Mr. Perumal on the successful meeting and kind recognition by both Dutch and Indian governments.
You can find out more of what Mr. N.K. Perumal and RDO Trust are up to by visiting: www.rdotrust.org
Column written by: WASTE Adviser, Lauren Pope