Lahra Nagla Akoli becomes ODF in one day


The remote and nondescript village of Lahra, Nagla Akoli in Etah District of Uttar Pradesh has the distinction of becoming open defection free (ODF) in one single day.  Far fetched as it may sound, it was true nevertheless.  On 10th December, 2017, as many as 98 toilets were built to ensure that all the residents of the village had access to sanitation.

The idea was generated by officials of the district including District Magistrate (DM) Etah, Amit Kishore, UN WSSCC DC, Vijay Verma, and DPRO, Dhananjay Jaiswal, with a view to taking the Swachh Bharat Mission into a fast-track mode,.  The entire exercise showcased how people’s awareness and official support can be clubbed together to create history.

Two days before the execution of the one day campaign, a meticulous plan was made.   They had to first choose the most remote and challenging village.  Lahra, Nagla Akoli which lies in Marehra constituency with a population of around 500 seemed perfect for the plan.  Thereafter, the pradhan of the village, Rajveer Singh was given a list of requirements that he had to arrange for including bricks, cement, sand, chips, hardware and gates.


Simultaneously, trained masons of the block were summoned for a meeting and they were delighted to be a part of such a plan.  To assist the masons, safai karmcharis (cleaners) were also called in; while the secretaries were trained to use the BHIM app.

In the run up to the event, enthusiasm amidst the village community was palpable as many wanted to witness the change that was happening.  Many of them volunteered to collectively cook a meal of khichdi for all and each house contributed whatever they could for the village feast – grain, ghee, pulses, vegetables, etc. As far as digging of the soak pit was concerned, it was done a day before when most of the material had reached their village.

The day of the campaign dawned with much anticipation as the village took on a festive atmosphere.  Everyone in the village did their best to make the village look beautiful.  While young girls cleaned the roads, women gathered waste materials even as the small children did what they could to help.  Incidentally, the number of men in the village is relatively less as many of them work in the cities.  But their absence was hardly noticed as all others gathered to perform the tasks as if it was someone’s wedding.

When the masons arrived, they were given a short orientation and allotted houses where they were to build toilets.  Each of them had a safai karamchari to assist.  Soon, the village was bustling with activity as materials such as cement, rural pans, and bricks were being carried to and from homes as toilet construction started at 10 am.

Understanding the importance of Izzat Ghat, people helped the masons as much as they could.  They kept aside their regular work, including cooking and participated in the building work.  The doors of toilets were painted with the words ‘Izzat ghar, darwaza band to bimari band’ and other attractive motifs.

Manpower deployed for the execution of the project included 98 trained masons, 78 safai karamcharis, 9 secretaries, 6 technical assistants, 3 block coordinators, 1 DPC, 1 ADO, 1 BDO, 5 computer operators making a total of 201.  Following construction, a pooja was organized in celebration in which all district officials participated, followed by partaking of khichdi.


Finally, with the use of BHIM APP the first installment amount of Rs.6000 was transferred directly to the beneficiaries’ accounts. The DM also sanctioned 30 solar lights for the village and disclosed plans for solid waste management and water treatment in the village.

More than anything else, the campaign demonstrated that when an entire community comes together for a common cause of toilet construction, total sanitation is not far away and can be achieved.


No tea or hair cuts for those who fail to use toilets

The gram panchayat of Kelwara in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan was declared open defecation free (ODF) in October 2016.  Nonetheless, there were individuals that continued to answer nature’s call outdoors even when they had access to toilets.  Concerned about this slip back, two shopkeepers, Bhaga Singh and Prakash Sen, stepped it up to ensure that the ODF status is sustained.

Bhaga Singh with the declaration on his tea StallSituated amidst the Arawali Hills in the Mewar region, about 4-5 kms from Kumbhalgarh Fort (Great Wall of India), Kelwara GP is located near the main road that connects Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh Fort.   A great source of marble, the area produces huge amounts of organic pumpkin and mango.

Distressed by the slip back cases, the district administration appealed to the public to help sustain the ODF status, and ensure good sanitation practices.

A tea vendor, Bhaga Singh had been very enthusiastic about the Swachh Bharat Mission that was being implemented by the district administration.  Having actively supported the mission in all its activities, he was disappointed that people were not cooperating, that they were falling back on their pledges to keep their environment free from open defecation.

Prakash Sen with declaration on his Hair Dressing shopMeanwhile, hair dresser, Prakash Sen shared similar sentiments.  He wondered if people cared about the progress of their village.  Did they not care about the health and well being of the whole community?  After struggling so hard to make the GP ODF, it was unfair to let it fall back.

Both Bhaga Singh and Prakash Sen had shops on the main road, right opposite each other.  They decided to act – to show people that if they did not cooperate, then they would not get certain services.

The next day, both the entrepreneurs set up notices outside their shops.  “Shauchalaya ka upyog karo varna chai nahi milegi (Tea will not be served to those who do not use their toilets),” the board outside the tea stall said.

Right opposite the shop, on the other side of the road was a sign that read, “shauchalaya ka upyog karne par hi dadi and baal banayi jawegi” (use toilet otherwise haircut and shaving won’t be done).

Both of them were keen to uphold the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission and put up such printed declarations, for all to see.  Through their actions, the two shopkeepers have shown full support to the sanitation campaign.

Most of all, they have appealed to the sense of pride of the community, given that the community in Mewar is strongly influenced by pride and honour.

Their actions had the desired effect when members of the community slowly but gradually began to use their toilets again – not just in Kelwara but also in village Meherpal (Taladari Gram Panchayat) where Bhaga Singh has his home and family living and in Sen Community programmes of which Prakash Sen is a member.

The two men are also keeping up the SBM momentum by spreading awareness about benefits of using toilets to everyone they come across.

(Inputs from ZSBP-Rajsamand district)

Sarpanch Avtar Singh Rajput drives SBM activities in Tumen GP


Avtar Singh Rajput, the Sarpanch of Tumen gram panchayat in Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh is undoubtedly the driving force behind the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) campaign in his area.  His unique ways of triggering his community to bring about behavior change are worth emulating.

The Sarpanch of Tumen has convinced families in his gram panchayat that they can be watched by way of Google maps.  Hence if people who have toilets in their homes were planning to defecate in the open, they could be tracked and suitable action would be taken against them.

You can search for all kinds of things, like post offices, bus stops, or street names, using Google Maps, the Sarpanch tells them as he encourages people to look at his smart phone; while cautioning them that even they can be observed.

Further, knowing the importance of teamwork, he put in place a 20 member team comprising the secretary, gram sevaks and other volunteers to engage in community mobilization.  This included door to door visits, morning and evening follow up, awareness building exercises, ratri chaupal, etc.

For those families who could not afford toilets, he organized funds and monitored building activity.

Over the past year and a half, the enthusiastic Sarpanch has given his entire focus to the SBM campaign which resulted in people constructing toilets and making his GP open defecation free (ODF).

(Inputs from ZSBP-Ashoknagar, MP)

Hojai district adopts inclusive practices


People with disability have extraordinary talents and contribute to the society in many ways, proving that disability is not inability.  Based on this premise, the district administration of Hojai in Assam has initiated a campaign with a view to including people with disability in every aspect of development.

Titled ‘Disability is not inability,’ the initiative was launched in collaboration with the Disabled Development Society of Hojai on World Toilet Day that fell on 21st November, 2017.  It encourages people with disability to be a part of the Swachhta campaign and make the dream of Swachh India a reality.

The objectives of the campaign are to involve every person with disability in the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign and to do something unique; to raise awareness about the capabilities and potential of persons with disability; to address discrimination against persons with disability and to ensure the effective inclusion of such people in all areas of society, ZSBP-Hojai said.

To ensure that people with disability too have access to safe sanitation, members of the Disabled Development Society have been carrying out various activities.  These include community mobilisation exercises to build awareness about the need to use toilets; IPC (inter personal communication) activities to promote behaviour change; and IEC activities such as hand-washing and cleanliness drive.  In addition, they have been involved in the construction of twin pit toilets and so far the organisation has constructed about 114 IHHLs in the Udali block of Hojai District.   

Currently, the organisation serves around 500 people with various forms of disability.   In fact, from the inception of Swachh Bharat Mission, the organisation has been actively participating in various activities related to SBM.  Right from the construction of IHHL (individual household latrines) to IEC/ activities, this organisation has made a name for itself in the community. 

According to the Secretary, Disabled Development Society, Mr. Abdul Wahab, “The honourable PM Narendra Modi said that 125 crore Indians must come together to fulfil the dream of swacchta.  Therefore we who belong to the 125 crore Indians, although differently abled are as capable as other people in the nation to contribute towards this Mission.”

The Disabled Development Society of Hojai is grateful to the Prime Minister as the Mission believes in the capability of these people, thereby encouraging them to be an integral part of the mission. The organisation is also grateful to the District Water and Sanitation Committee, Hojai, which believes in the ability of people with disability and has involved them in the construction of toilets.


Focus of Kinnar Sammelan is Swachhta


Another instance that goes to prove that Swachhta is taking the country by storm is the Kinnar Sammelan that is currently taking place in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh.  The theme for this year’s religious congregation of transgenders is Swachhta.

Earlier held in 2013, the event is being held in Jhabua in the Western part of MP, bordering the districts of Baroda in Gujarat and Banswara in Rajasthan, from 1st to 15th December, 2017.  While the All India Kinnar Conference is open to the transgender community from across the country, many of the participants this year are from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. 

In keeping with the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign that is being implemented across the country, Swachhta is the topic for this year.  Further, with a view to spreading awareness about sanitation and cleanliness, as many as 450 garbage bins were distributed to participants on the inaugural day of the 15 day event.

The small dustbins will be emptied at regular intervals into larger dustbins which in turn will be emptied into garbage vans run by the municipality.  In addition, a message promoting cleanliness adorns the entrance of venue.  

The organisers have also declared with pride that their toilets are being cleaned thrice a day and their participants are being sensitized about the need of keep their toilets clean.

Guruji of the community, Salma Jaan from Badnagar and one of the organizers, Nisaar Jaan spoke to block coordinator of Jhabua Mr. Sagar Singh Pachaha and ZSBP, Meghna Chakraborty.

Listen to the conversation here:


Green Ringui campaign held from 7th to 8th Dec


With a view to promoting clean and healthy living, North East Foundation for Education and Culture (NEFEC) and Ringui Horei (Natural Resources Management Committee of Ringui Village) had organised a two day cleanliness campaign in Ringui and its adjoining villages.

Called Green Ringui campaign, the event was held on 7th and 8th December, 2017 to promote behaviour change towards adoption of environmental-friendly practices and to encourage people to take necessary measures to manage solid and liquid waste efficiently to safeguard public health and environment.

Day one of the campaign involved the entire community in cleaning of public places including roadsides along a stretch of 20 kms.  Thereafter, they dug pits for dumping of bio-degradable household waste which in due course will be turned into compost.

Day 2 featured a display of dustbin models.  In this regard a dustbin model making competition was earlier announced wherein participants had to make dustbins that were eco-friendly, portable, durable, affordable and made of locally available material. The winning model of dustbin will be placed in all public places and roadsides of participating villages.

In addition, a dumping site and public waste bin for non-biodegradable waste was set up.  There was also a training session on making of carry bags using waste paper.  The highlight of day 2 was the ‘declaration of plastic free village’.

Poor management of waste is a severe threat to public health.  That said, every citizen of a community plays an indispensable role in the management of the same as collective realization, action, care and effort can bring about remarkable changes in maintaining and sustaining a village that is clean, healthy and beautiful.

The village communities were also be given awareness about the need to – maintain dustbins which will have to emptied into public garbage bins; segregation of waste into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable material; use of reusable bags for shopping; ban the use of plastic bags; maintenance of drains; reuse of wrapping paper and gift boxes; stop littering; refrain from spitting and smoking in public places; grow more plants; and switching off lights when not in use.

With a population of about 3500 and 450 households, Ringui village is known for cultivating Marijuana (Cannabis).  As a result, a large portion of the forest has been degraded, while the soil has lost its fertility owing to high usage of fertilizer.   In addition, water contamination is extreme.

Recently, the village community has taken up the initiative of restoring the forest area and soil quality, as they hope to make it the cleanest village in about 4 years.  With this decision made, the people have started giving up private land to the village authorities to be used as common land for protection and conservation.  

Meanwhile, a general cleanliness movement is ongoing even as the locality is open defecation free (ODF).

Effective convergence of SBMG & Digital India in Singrauli


The district administration of Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh has found a unique way of combining the schemes of Digital India and Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBMG) to build toilets for the village communities in the power capital of India.

For starters, implementing of the SBMG was a challenge in this remote district that is home to coal mines and power plants.  Considering that people lived in dispersed settlements, they lacked a sense of community.  Hence triggering exercises were a major challenge.  Further, when approached to build awareness about safe sanitation practices, the people came up with excuses of not have sufficient money, etc.

In the meantime, it was the policy of the district to disburse incentive only after completion of toilet construction.  So the Collector Singrauli came up with a plan to build toilets for the community as well as provide incentive.

A flagship programme of the Government of India, Digital India has a vision to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.  In short, it empowers citizens with access to digital services, knowledge and information.

The solution that the District Administration arrived at was to get a vendor or contractor person to build a toilet for a beneficiary who was entitled to incentive and later get the beneficiary, if he/she is satisfied with the construction, to transfer the incentive amount to the builder.  The process was simple with the linking of Aadhaar card and required just a thumb impression of the beneficiary. 

Under the Digital India Programme, every district has a common service centre (CSC). For example, in the Gram Panchayat of Dighhi, a representative from CSC went with a district official to each of the homes of individuals to facilitate transfer of funds.  It was a win-win situation for both parties and the procedure was carried out under supervision of district officials.  Both sides have been satisfied with the deal.  Best of all, the beneficiaries were able to get their toilets, despite having no bank or access to construction materials.

So far, two families – Ramjanam Saket and Anjani Saket from Dighhi village have followed this process and more than 21 other families will soon get their toilets constructed by this method.  According to ZSBP-Singrauli, Rahul Saini, the procedure will be replicated in other villages too.

Over the last few months, construction of toilets in Singrauli has accelerated.  Of the required 1,10,000 toilets, 87,000 will get toilet incentive from government. With about 2700 toilets being constructed each month, the district has set a target to become ODF on 31st December, 2018.

“Digital payments through CSC will act as a game changer in fulfilling the dreams of ODF Singrauli,” said Collector Singrauli, Shri Anurag Chaudhary.