First conference call with Siruthuli

This week, the Siruthuli team had its first conference call with Ms. Vanitha Mohan, the Executive Director of Siruthuli and also the Chairperson of the auto parts company called Pricol Ltd.

My team consists of me, Lisa from the Netherlands, and Cordula from Germany. All of us have been meeting virtually to come up with a game plan so that we can hit the ground running starting on the 23rd.

We have already done some preliminary research on methods to control water hyacinth (biological, chemical, using machinery, etc). However, through our conversation with Vanitha, it is clear that our biggest challenge will be to come up with a long term and sustainable method to prevent sewage and pollution from entering the tank. This probably means working with the public works department, local farmers, and local businesses to take care of their sewage in a non-polluting way.

You can find some links on Siruthuli and some press coverage of Valunkulam below:

Older article about Valunkulam and Siruthuli: http://www.hindu.com/2006/01/21/stories/2006012122360300.htm

Article about man arrested for dumping in Valunkulam tank:

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-03-27/coimbatore/29194682_1_city-lakes-garbage-tourist-spots

We also found out more details about our accommodations–we will be staying in the Deja Vu hotel in Coimbatore. It is a small, boutique hotel in the middle of the city. It has a swimming pool, restaurant, gym, and everything else we need to unwind after a long day at work. I am definitely going to be spoiled after this experience…

I can’t find any pictures online, but as soon as we arrive, I will post some pictures. #ibmcsc

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Preparations and Pre-Steps…

I have a little more than three weeks to go before I start my IBM Corporate Service Corps assignment in Coimbatore, India. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, CSC is a program launched by IBM in 2008 that seeks to empower its employees as global citizens. The program sends teams of 10-15 IBMers into emerging and pre-emerging countries to work on economic development programs.

My team will be the 12th team that has been deployed to India since the program started, and the first to be located in Coimbatore, India. For those of you who are not familiar with the city, Coimbatore is the 2nd largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located in the south of India. It is an industrial hub (often referred to as the “Manchester of India”) and also has a growing IT industry. Although I have traveled to India many times, I have never been to Coimbatore. I also do not speak any Tamil, so any help would be appreciated…

Our team has been completing pre-work activities since the beginning of July. These activities range from getting immunizations to learning about the business climate of our chosen country. I am excited to work with such a diverse IBM team. My team members come from Brazil, Germany, Argentina, among other countries. They also have a wide variety of business and technical skills.

Last week our entire team found out about our projects. My team is working on a strategic plan to deal with the water hyacinth problem in a major water source for the city of Coimbatore. We will be working with a local environmental NGO called Siruthuli, who will be providing us office space and support during this time.

I will admit that I know very little about water hyacinth plants or water management in general. However, as I did some more research, I learned that these plants are a major problem. They spread fast, clog waterways, and prevent people from having safe drinking water. With only one month to design a strategy for dealing with this issue, our team will have to work hard to put together a plan.

I will be updating this blog periodically until Sept 23rd (my departure date) and regularly after that. Please post any  comments or questions that you may have. Thank you for reading the blog!!  #ibmcsc

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