Hamirpur SBM officials adopt one village each to make ODF

Hamirpur1

Having set a deadline of 31st July, 2017 to be declared open defecation free (ODF), the district administration of Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh has now renewed its efforts to bring about sustainable behaviour change and hasten toilet construction.

In this regard, it has assigned one official to one village to monitor all activities pertaining to sanitation.  While they convince the community about safe sanitation methods, they would also ensure than toilet construction picks up pace.  Whether a Secretary, an ODF champion, a Swachhagrahi, block motivator or coordinator, each of them have adopted those villages where triggering using the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach has already been carried out.

“The task in hand is to convert Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) into a movement of people. For this, not only villagers but also everyone involved with the SBM Team should have a sense of ownership for the scheme, and belonging to the people that they work with.” explained District Magistrate, Dr. Mannan Akhtar.

Toilet coverage in the district before the start of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM) campaign was about 43% but now has risen to 53%.   Further, of the 104386 existing toilets, 6815 were defunct and to make the district ODF as many as 170633 toilets had to be built.  Currently, 17 gram panchayats of the total 339 GPs in the village are ODF and their verification is underway.

Hamirpur

Earlier in the year, large scale triggering exercises using the CLTS approach were carried out in 273 villages. It was a massive campaign that while pointing to the ill effects of open defecation; persuaded people to adopt safe sanitation practices.  That it would improve health and wellbeing of the whole community was underlined.  It was heartening to note that people were gradually being motivated to build their own toilets, through their own means.

It is to these villages that the officials have been assigned to for 15 days beginning on 19th June 2017, to ensure that toilet construction takes place.  Their role is to catalyse toilet construction which has been pending and motivate them by holding meetings and organising documentation such as acceptance letter, etc.  They would also help the Nigrani Samitis to advise people against open defecation.

Hamirpur2

“All of those officials have been widely associated with the mission and know how to get things done when it comes to making the village ODF,” the DM said.

As far as masons are concerned, there are currently about 508 trained masons in the district compared to the requirement of around 4900.  Plans are in the pipeline to fill this gap on a war footing.

 (Inputs from ZSBP – Hamirpur)

Sustainable sanitation in Raipur District

Raipur

“Eik Praya Hammar Sughhar Gaon Dondekhurd” meaning ‘An initiative to our clean gram panchayat (GP)’ is a village level programme under which various activities are currently being carried out in Dondekhurd.  Inspired by the campaign of Amitabh Bachchan and Anushka Sharma, each Sunday, people in Dondekhurd GP combine sanitation and cleaning activities with a rally named as Darwaza Band (which literally means close the door), to motivate people to use toilets.

As a part of the same programme, on 11th June voting was conducted during which more than 600 people voted to identify people who were still defecating in the open.   As many as 250 GPs which had already been declared ODF participated in the Swachhata Matdaan.

Going by such and other novel interventions that are being carried out by the district administration of Raipur in Chhattisgarh, the district will be declared open defecation free (ODF) well before the targeted date of 15th August, 2017.

“Our focus all along has been on demand creation of toilets. Essentially our aim is to make toilet a priority for everyone and in this regard we have carried out various programmes using Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to bring about the desired behavior change,” said CEO, Zilla Panchayat, Raipur, Mr. Nileshkumar Kshirsagar.   He believes that changing behaviour before the actual construction of toilets together with active community participation will lead to sustainable transformation of the community.

Raipur2It is common knowledge that women are central to improving the well-being of children and achieving lasting change in society.  Bearing this in mind, in their approach, the district officials appeared to illustrate the adage, “Teach a woman and you teach a generation.”  Although the initial awareness building programme using the CLTS approach was meant for the whole community, it made a lasting impact on the women.  This was obvious when women formed ODF brigades which kept vigil from as early as 4 AM on common open defecation sites to check people who went there to relieve themselves. They went on to demand from their husbands that toilets are built within their homes.

Significantly, in Raipur an active network of Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) has been established under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).   Under this, a group of 10-12 women form a group and begin a saving programme.  As demand for toilets was created, women SHG member inter loaned for the purpose of the toilet constriction.  In Budera GP in Aarang Block, 80% of women are attached to SHGs and have done inter loaning for building of toilets.

Further, once the message that sanitation is critically linked to health, dignity of women and overall well being of the community was conveyed effectively through various IEC materials, the district refused to provide any government incentive upfront to the communities.  “We told them it was their duty and right to build toilets and use them.  After all, it was their health they were protecting.  Significantly, this helped in ensuring usage of toilets.  People were keen to use something they had paid for as opposed to something that was given freely.

In the nutshell our aim was to make sanitation a truly mass movement,” the CEO said.  Paying incentives following 3 months of usage and ODF verification thereafter, was among the most effective strategies employed by Raipur.

Even as they succeeded in making toilet a priority for every family, a new challenge arose.  The toilet model that is being promoted widely is the twin pit toilet which is best suited to rural areas.  Not only does it cost less to construct, it uses less space and at the same time effectively treats toilet waste, converting it into rich manure.  However, people were under the impression that low cost leach pit toilets were ineffective in the long run and that big septic tanks were better; a result of some masons promoting the same for economic interests.

Raipur3

To address this, inspired by the pit emptying activity done by the Secretary, MDWS, a similar exercise was carried out in Sarfonga GP that saw the participation of Mr. Robert Chambers and Mr. Jamie Myres of Institute of Development Studies (IDS) UK.  This demonstration carried out at different locations had a very positive impact on all stakeholders.

Further, SHGs such as Shiv-Sakti Mahila Samuh from Beldar Shivani GP in Tilda Block are selling manure from toilet pits at Rs 50 per kilogram.  Such manure is also being used for plantation activity to make people more aware of its properties that can enhance plant growth.

SBM becomes the talk of a village in Gumla District

Gumla

A walk through the Banpur hamlet of Gumla village and you will hear a lot of talk about toilets and sanitation.  There is also considerable construction activity going on and so far 32 toilets with attached bathrooms have been completed of the total 85 such toilets planned.

According to Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak (ZSBP) of Gumla District in Jharkhand, the little hamlet that is situated in a naxal prone belt surrounded by hills and forests is one of the most economically backward as evident from the kutcha houses and lack of very basic amenities.  Further, the agrarian community depends on seasonal monsoon for their agricultural work.  Nevertheless, when they heard about the importance of sanitation, majority of the women conveyed their assent and wholeheartedly supported the move to build toilets.

The Swachh Bharat Mission campaign had been doing the rounds in the area for some time and they had heard all about the need to use toilets and how it would contribute to health and well being of the entire community.  That they wouldn’t have to search for safe spots, away from the danger of insects and crawling creatures was another positive point.  And considering it would preserve their dignity, women couldn’t agree more.

The women folk were so enthralled with the idea of a toilet that when they heard about building activity taking place in a neighbouring block, they sent some of their men to learn how to build a toilet.  When the men returned, a village meeting was convened during which toilets and their advantages were debated at length.

Gumla2

The community decided to completely stop open defecation and build toilets, the ZSBP said.  Further, they wanted to complete building of toilets through self-financing. In this regard, they took a loan of Rs 2 lakhs from their own Sangathan or Self Help Group and approached the bank for a loan of Rs 1.5 lakhs.  In total, they had invested Rs 3.5 lakhs for construction of 85 toilets.

This whole process came as a pleasant surprise to the district administration who although had carried out initial awareness building and triggering exercises in the village were unaware of the activities and discussions that transpired.  That the community decided to go for self-financial was admirable.

All the toilets comprised a super structure of one toilet and bathroom attached and a substructure of twin pits.  “These were the models used in the neighbouring blocks which the people of Banpur hamlet decided to emulate,” the ZSBP explained.

Having become aware of this great initiative of this non-descript village, the district administration is now making efforts to provide all possible support to complete construction of all toilets in the hamlet.

“I salute members of the community namely – Nilima, Santi, Vinod, Juhi, Injot, Rajesh, Kusum, Prachi, Naveen, etc for their courageous initiative to make their village open defecation free without any support of district administration,” the ZSBP said.

Kalaburagi focuses on health & hygiene of pregnant women

Gulbarga1

Following the traditional Indian custom of honouring pregnant women during the latter half of their pregnancy, the district administration of Kalaburagi has started a new initiative that while celebrating motherhood, promotes hygiene practices among women.

On the new initiative called Koosu meaning ‘child’ organized in collaboration with the local Primary Health Centres (PHCs), CEO of Zilla Panchayat in Kalaburagi District of Karnataka, Hephsiba Rani Korlapati explained that the ‘baby showers’ are particularly meant for pregnant ladies owning toilets.

“Breaking barriers, and taking advantage of cultural practices, we have devised a small programme wherein after ante-natal checkup, we check if pregnant women have access to toilets and build one if they don’t.  We also educate pregnant women about health, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition; and also sensitize them about breastfeeding and newborn care,” she said.

Thereafter, women of the gram panchayat (GP) organise a baby shower, a ceremony that celebrates the baby bump and honours the pregnant woman.    In the process, the most respectable tasks are given to women representatives.  This engagement between them and PHCs ensures that they develop a good rapport with the health department to maximize institutional deliveries.  Later, follow up is done by health and Women and Child Department (WCD) functionaries.

The Koosu initiative is a brain child of Koralpatti, who has put in place a scheme whereby ZP officials organize baby showers post-delivery in homes of families who build toilets for their daughters or daughters-in-law who are soon to be mothers.

“We were inspired to start such a programme after we heard about the ASHA worker, Indira Bhai from Gundagurthi village who built a toilet for her pregnant daughter Bhagyashree in a matter of two days.

During the first baby shower (seemantha) that the CEO organized, she announced that such programmes will be organized by the panchayat in all homes of pregnant women who build toilets.

The CEO believes that it is vital for ASHA workers to spread awareness on building toilets for pregnant women and inform them about the need to breastfeed, each time they visit homes. After delivery, the new mothers would also be advised about food and nutrition practices.

“In the absence of toilets, women tend to reduce food and water intake during pregnancy which leads to malnutrition,” Korlapati explained.

Gulbarga

USHA campaign

Earlier, the former CEO of Chamarajanagar had launched USHA campaign that catered to all girl students with a view to providing awareness about menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and other pertinent issues.

An acronym for ‘Understand, Sensitize, Help and Achieve,’ USHA was an intensive campaign held from 25th November to 24th January, to ensure that no girl child was left behind, according to the CEO.

Considering that the district is among the most backward in the country in terms of literacy and other human development indicators; with child marriage, teenage pregnancies and malnutrition prevalent, the campaign was intended to address a pressing need.

The main objectives of the campaign were to enable an equitable and decent life for every girl child in the district; to restore her rights and dignity; and to give her identity and space.  In the process, access to toilets and menstrual hygiene management were given substantial focus.

In this context, teachers across the district volunteered to be mentors and worked beyond the call of their normal duty, alongside functionaries of the Zilla Panchayat, participating in a gamut of activities that converged with various government schemes.

Toilet building campaign

More recently, the CEO organized a toilet building campaign started on World Environment Day with the aim of constructing 10,000 toilets in a period two weeks.  The individual household latrines were meant for the rural poor and priority was being given to families that have pregnant and lactating mothers.  It also included a plantation drive.

The CEO’s work with women and children has also inspired 11-year-old Suchitra KP from Kamarahalli village of Gundlupet taluk in Chamarajanagar district to convince more than 20 families in her district to build toilets.  In that sense, the child was the face of the USHA campaign in her district.  She was the youngest to be awarded on International Women’s Day by the Delhi Commission for Women.

Taking inspiration from SBM-G, Pragathi Nagar residents clean up lake

Lake1

The Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin Campaign has triggered a massive people’s movement across the country.  Aside from making their villages open defecation free (ODF) many concerned citizens are engaging in other activities that contribute to cleaning and greening of their habitations that would have immense bearing on health and well being of the communities.

One such example is that of Pragathi Nagar gram panchayat (GP) in Quthbullapur Mandal of Medchal District in Telangana.  The GP which is home to more than 10,000 households was declared ODF on 16th March, 2017.

Close to its border but situated under Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation is a large natural lake.  However, because it is contaminated with sewerage that is channeled into the lake and other garbage, it smells bad and is covered with horse shoe creepers which make it a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  While some people regularly dumped garbage near the lake since it was already contaminated, a few others would urinate near the lake.

Recently, the Pragathi Nagar Development Committee along with other residents of the GP got together and decided to take matters into their own hands.   Each of the residents donated Rs 500 per family and initiated the cleaning up of the lake by themselves rather than wait for help.  With support and cooperation of GP leaders, the residents pulled out creepers and other garbage that was submerged in the lake.

To help with this, they purchased a special bucket-like-equipment that sifts through the water to remove garbage.  Further, boards have been erected at various points with messages about environmental protection; and a fine has been imposed on anyone found dumping waste into or near the lake.

Special bucket for removal of Creeper

In addition, they have set up a sewage treatment plant (STP) and treated water from this is used in vegetable gardens and flowering plants in public places.  Households that require such water for their kitchen gardens can request a connection for the same.

A dumping yard has been set up and compost made at the unit is sold to residents at Rs 4 per kg.  As far as non-biodegradable materials are concerned, plastic below 50 microns has been banned.  Waste segregation is done at household level while the GP has organized collection of wet and dry waste separately.

Significantly, cigarettes, Gutkha and other tobacco products and even aerated drinks are not sold in the GP.  Cutting of trees is not allowed and those found violating the rule will have to pay a penalty.  Similarly, anyone found urinating in any part of the GP will be fined; and if it is a government servant, he would be charged extra for negligence.

As many as 300 rain water harvesting pits have been set up in the GP and roof top water is harvested though pipes and bore wells.  While all the 3 parks in the area – Ambedkar, Nehru an NTR parks are well maintained, begging is not allowed.  Importance is given to greenery and each household has 2 trees planted in front of their homes.  The GP members are proud that literacy rate in the village is almost 100%.

Further, to ensure that cleanliness of the lake is sustained, the villagers have decided to continue cleaning the lake on a regular basis to remove creepers, etc., until the government’s ban on sewage being discharged into the lake is effectively enforced.  This has certainly transformed the lake.

For all their efforts, the Integrated Quality Certification Private Limited has awarded the GP of Pragathi Nagar a Certificate of Compliance for conforming to the quality management system ISO 9001:2008.

(Inputs from ZSBP – Medchal District)

Vengurla Panchayat undertakes beach cleanliness drive amidst heavy rain

IMG-20170616-WA0009

This is a story of one community’s success in cleaning up their coastline that is frequently strew with garbage, left behind by tourists that frequent their beaches each holiday season.

A long stretch of coastline dotted with beaches, Vengurla Taluka of Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra is home to several habitations of fishing communities.  Most of the families come from the low income group and are dependent on fishing and sale of coconuts for their livelihood.  The pristine beaches of Vengurla Taluka also attract many tourists every year, and this has become an additional source of income for the local fisher-folk.

Unfortunately, many tourists visit the scenic beaches of the area during their summer holidays which is just before the monsoon.  Invariable, they leave behind a lot of garbage including plastic waste that not only litters the sand but also enters the sea, only to be cast ashore by the waves during high tide.

Such garbage becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and houseflies, particularly during the monsoon.  Not only does it make for an unsightly scene, it also contaminates the surroundings and spreads disease among the communities of the coastal hamlets.

To address this, the Panchayat Samiti of Vengurla has initiated a monsoon beach cleanliness drive on the beaches of Vengurla Taluka.  Such drives have also been carried out every year earlier, with the involvement of the local community.  Significantly, the cleanliness drive takes place despite heavy rain, when people set aside their routine jobs to enthusiastically volunteer to clean the beaches of Vengurla.

Initially it was difficult to involve people, but when the Panchayat Samiti officials worked on their own, seeing their efforts, people of Vengurla were inspired to join in and support the drive wholeheartedly.   Such activities are bound to ensure sustainability of the initiative, setting an example to other gram panchayats in the long run.

In Sindhudurg district which has been declared open defecation free (ODF) earlier, this is seen as a move to achieve ODF plus status.  People there have already been acquainted with the Swachh Bharat Mission and are well aware of safe sanitation practices.

(Contributed by ZSBP – Sindhudurg)

Agar Malwa becomes ODF

01 (40)

About 2 years ago, when someone entered a village in Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh, they were likely to step on faeces that were on the roadsides and vacant spaces in the village.  That’s how rampant open defecation was at that point of time.

In fact, when the district panchayat of Agar Malwa was formed on 1st April, 2015, although there were about 5000 toilets in the district, majority of them were dysfunctional.  “We had to build more than 70,000 toilets,” said Collector and District Magistrate, Mr. Durg Vijay Singh.

Lack of awareness among the people and changing their habit of defecating in the open was the main challenge.  Further, the district team which was rather small as it was a newly formed district, initially felt quite overwhelmed with the large number of toilets that had to be built with limited resources and making people use them.

Training programmes

Nevertheless to promote people’s participation, they began with motivating their officials at block and district levels through workshops on CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) organized at Shajapur.  During those events, 191 masons were trained on toilet construction technologies.  It led to target wise work plans after which construction of toilets began.

02 (3)

In addition, realizing the importance of CLTS, a 5 day training/orientation workshop was held at Model School for motivators, government officials, GRS, Secretaries, Sarpanchs, anganwadi and ASHA workers, members of Self Help Groups (SHGs), journalists, social workers, NSS, NCC, etc. This training by Mr. Manu Singh (Feedback Foundation) proved to be quite effective as it motivated people from all sections of the society, according to the DC.

At the beginning, the administration faced a lot of resistance.  People were reluctant to use toilets let alone build them.  In one of the blocks there were people who did not have any concept of washing themselves after defecation, and convincing those people to build toilets and use them was not easy, he added.

Strategies employed

Enormous efforts were made to involve the community in the campaign.  Soon after the CLTS training, pre-triggering, triggering and morning and evening follow-ups were carried out. This encouraged people to participate in the campaign.  Also, Nigrani Samitis (Janaki Sena, Luv-Kush Sena, Nayak Sena) were formed, night meetings (Ratri Chaupaal) were organised in villages, and Mashaal Yatras were organised to pass the baton of ODF village to the non-ODF villages.

Community involvement

Bharat Mata Chunar Yatras specifically targeted the womenfolk who were encouraged to make a pledge to make their villages ODF.   This gave some immediate results as it linked religious sentiments with cleanliness.  Further, Jan-Abhiyan Parishad, SHG groups, Anganwadi and ASHA workers, and other government officials were motivated time and again through meetings and trainings.  In this regard, the Regional Rural Development Training Centre in Ujjain helped them immensely.

Once the training was done, a Swachhta Rath was sent to villages and movies were screened to spread awareness among villagers about sanitation.  Moreover, Sondhiya Sammelan was organised in Bijanagri Village, to motivate the Sondhiya community to build toilets as they were the most resistant to behaviour change.  Towards the end, a 7 day Halla Bol programme was organised in the villages with the help of village level motivators and Nigrani Samitis, to promote building and usage of toilets.  In addition, whistles and caps were distributed among children who were a part of the Nigrani Samiti and those who worked exceptionally well were also rewarded with sports kit and T-shirts.

02 (25)

While district officials applied sanctions on people who continued to defecate in the open; appointment of Swachhagrahis at GP level provided local aid and helped maintaining village level teams. What’s more, Swachhta Champions were rewarded monthly on the basis of their contribution towards achieving ODF status.

Officials also planted trees that were associated with religious values such as Tulsi, Peepal etc. near open defecation sites to prohibit people from defecating near them.  Schools were instructed to integrate cleanliness practices in their syllabus in order for children to inculcate these in their behaviour.

Inspiring incidents/stories

While there were several inspiring incidents, a few swachhta champions standout – such as the differently-abled (divyang) girl in Susner block who motivated her village to become ODF; a Sarpanch who helped build 40 toilets in his village and also in the entire Agar block; and SHG members who helped make 5 villages ODF and were used as chief motivators in villages.  Some of these women were felicitated at the Women’s Day Celebration in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Given that people actively participate in cleaning of temples, during a Chunar Yatra in Susner Block, the SBM team hoisted flags that promote cleanliness on homes that did not have toilets – until the household built one.  This idea work exceptionally well and a month’s progress was achieved in 15 days.

Another interesting story came from Rampur Bhundwas village.  Considering that people in this village people were not ready to build toilets even after a lot of CLTS activities and IEC activities, the Sarpanch set up an overhead water supply tank at the top of his own house which had separate valves for different localities.  He would halt water supply to every locality where there was resistance to building toilets. This led to community pressure and within a few weeks that village became ODF.

As a result of community participation in cleanliness related activities, Chhapariya village was ranked 9th across India and 1st in Madhya Pradesh in the ranking of Saansad Adarsh Gram by members of the Parliament.  Previously, the village was one of the dirtiest villages; but the decision to set up Keshav Vatika on the open defecation spot motivated the community to adopt safe sanitation practices.  It also motivated other nearby villages to adopt similar practices and make their villages ODF.

A motivated team

The team at Agar Malwa kept themselves motivated throughout the ODF journey.  Assigning one Nodal officer to one GP developed ownership towards the goal; their experiences and problems were heard and acted upon every Monday; thereby expediting the process.  In addition, District Panchayat officers, Nodal officers etc. held village/GP level meetings regularly to maintain the spirit of the foot soldiers.

An announcement by the local MLA on public forum that the ODF GPs will be rewarded 2 lakh rupees from MLA fund kept the motivation level of Sarpanchs high.  Also, top performers in sanitation related activities were given priority in government schemes and direct recognition from the Collector and CEO ZP motivated even a common man to give priority to sanitation.

Agar Malwa officially became open defecation free on 30th May, 2017.  Having assumed the role of District Collector/Magistrate on 20th October, 2015, the DC said that playing his part as the District Mission Leader was not just professionally demanding but also soul satisfying.

“This is a nation building exercise and efforts of each individual can save lives of children across the country.  So it becomes important for leaders not just to keep themselves motivated but also to instill a sense of responsibility in every member of the team. I consider myself fortunate for having had this opportunity to contribute towards this historical initiative of making India Open Defecation Free,” he said.