With the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) campaign intensifying in all blocks of Karnal District in Haryana, 10,024 toilets were built and as many as 245 gram panchayats have been declared open defecation free (ODF), according to the SBM Director, Dr. Priyanka Soni.
Effective triggering carried out in all villages ensured that in a short period the desired behaviour change took place and people were willing to build toilets even without incentives, she added.
On September 3, 2016, the SBM team held a triggering exercise at a secondary school in Assandh block. Among the participants were Sarpanchs, ASHA and anganwadi workers, teachers, engineers and GP leaders who were led into a discussion about the ill effects of open defecation. Thereafter the nodal officer held meetings with the principal and staff as well as students and selected 136 of them to form a monitoring committee. Thereafter, 9 teams were formed with representatives from the entire village who went from house to house, covering all homes in the entire village, both morning and evening to talk to families about the health benefits that using toilets can bring about. Owing to intensive followup even during poor weather conditions, the whole village became ODF on October-2.
School students Neelam, Aarti and Kusam take the lead
Aarti had no toilet at home. Despite repeated requests, her father firmly refused citing financial woes. One day when both her parents were away, Aarthi and her friend Neelam (who had a toilet at home) got other friends together and began the work of digging pits. Coming upon this scene on his return, Aarti’s father was livid, but the girls persuaded him and then he conceded as he completed the work.
Meanwhile, Kusum came across a family that had two sons – one in college and the other an employee in an office. Both the mother and daughter still wore veils. However their home did not have a toilet and even the womenfolk had to go outdoors to relieve themselves. It took a while but through repeated discussions about dignity, safety and health, the family was persuaded to build a toilet at their home.
Executive Engineer, Ramphal Singh and Block coordinator Amit admit that students played a major role in passing on the sanitation message, particularly at Valmiki Mohalla that saw considerable opposition to building toilets. People were told how sanitation could not only provide health benefits but also better marriage alliances and progress of the entire village on all counts. Teachers did their part too. Through the efforts of Hindi teacher Bhupender Singh, 124 toilets were built to make Chochra village ODF.
Activities at various blocks of Karnal:
Assandh – Under the leadership of Sarpanch Karamveer Sharma, 19 monitoring committees were formed to cater to a population of 6500 and 136 schools.
Gharaunda – Following an SBM (G) triggering session, a father built a toilet for his daughter who suffered from some disability and set an example for the whole village.
Indri – Jaipnur Sadhan is a huge slum area in the Indri block. Sukhdev Chauhan and Vikas Singh from the District team visited the area and held awareness building activities. They convinced several families to go for toilets while the sanitation message was also delivered at the local mosque. Sarpanch Sudeshsha Rani and her husband Surendra passed an order, saying that only if they built toilets, could they avail of other welfare messages and utilities such as electricity, water, etc. Many families did concede and build toilets – one family sold a buffalo; another woman mortgaged her jewellery; a mother with 9 children managed to build a toilet despite her meager earnings. Another inspiring incident is of a family which had 3 children below the age of 18, the mother was deaf and the father an alcoholic. The children washed dishes in a tea shop to raise money to build a toilet.
Karnal – SBM team raised awareness about sanitation – telling people that heir village will not develop unless they build and use toilets. Today, nobody in the village defecates in the open. The district administration tells the tale of a lady who was unable to convince her alcoholic husband to build a toilet. But her father came forward to assist her and now she has a brand new toilet at her home.
Nilokheri – Religious leader Jaswant Nath with the help of Sarpanch Chanandas K built 40 toilets. Thereafter, during an on the spot inspection, Renu Kamboj saw that the basti was very poor – people had no sufficient oil or flour to meet their daily requirements. The people in this basti were provided with construction material to complete their toilets.
Nissing – In Bir Dindari Village, Sarpanch Ritu Rani and her husband helped build 22 toilets for poor families.