A walk through Nanaksagar in Chhattisgarh and you might think you are in the pink city. All the 206 houses in the village situated in Mahasamund district are painted pink to denote that its residents have built toilets and are using them.
“Our little pink city became Open Defecation Free (ODF) in March 2016,” CEO of Nanaksagar, Chandra Prakash Patra said.
Although sanitation activities began in the district in 2007-8, many families were still defecating in the open, preferring not to use their toilets. Also, many of the toilets because they were poorly constructed were defunct, he added.
On October 2, 2015, the CEO along with the Sarpanch and other leaders of the Gram Panchayat began to hold awareness building meetings with the entire community. They talked about the link between good sanitation practices and health and well being of all people.
“We repaired and renovated 50 per cent of the toilets and built about 150 new toilets for the remaining. In a matter of three months, all houses had toilets, but people were not using them. It was difficult for them to get rid of their habit of defecating in the open,” Patra said, explaining why the GP was not declared ODF earlier.
Taking matters into his hands, Village Sarpanch, Suvardhan Pradhan along with anganwadi workers and others went to every home teaching people the importance of using toilets, how to clean them, etc. Also, to ensure that people used them, a fine of Rs 500 was announced for anyone relieving themselves outside.
Together they also encouraged families to grow more trees and maintain 2-3 flower pots in front of every house in keeping with the Sanskrit verse – Atithi Devo Bhava translated – ‘The guest is equivalent to God’ as a welcome sign. People in Nanaksagar are proud of their beautiful village now, Patra said.
(Source: CEO of Nanaksagar, Chandra Prakash Patra, Chhattisgarh)