Somari Devi inspires her village to adopt safe sanitation practices

somari-devi

Dadi block which is located about 45 kms from the district headquarters of Hazaribagh is home to 14 panchayats and 14587 households.  While 8 of the panchayats are surrounded by dense forests and mountains, the remaining six lie in the coal field area where poor people live in slum areas. Most of the people in this block are labourers who find it a challenge to make ends meet. As many as 8340 families do not have toilet facilities.

The District administration began the Swachh Bharat Mission campaign on June 6, 2016 to make the Dadi block open defecation free (ODF) by December 30, 2016.  In this regard, an intensive awareness campaign was initiated to ensure community participation.  Activities carried out included Gram Sabhas, Nukkad Sabha, Ratri Choupal to sensitize people and convince them to adopt better sanitation practices.

With the involvement of PRI members, community, GP level officers and other natural leaders it became a huge movement.  However, objection was raised by the CCL management to construct of toilets in their leased area.

The district management intervened and resolved the matter.  The communities cooperated with Somari Devi who was the Upmukhiya of Railigarha East panchayat.  She went around the villages, from house to house to raise awareness and convince people to construct toilets. The Dadi Block was covered with 100% sanitation facilities by November 30, 2016.

Thereafter, Somari Devi started ‘Lota chhino, Siti Bajao and Damru Bajao’ abhiyan to prevent people from defecating in the open.  She went along with the Nigrani Samiti at 5 AM and again after 5 PM.  As a result of such initiatives, Religarha East Panchayat was declared ODF on December 15, 2016.

Somari Devi has now become a role model for other PRI members.  She is called a “Sauchalay Inspector” in her Panchayat.  Somari Devi thanks the district administration and the Honorable PM for helping and supporting the community to abolish the traditional practice of open defecation.

Motivated by the recent events in their village, the people have started to decorate the walls of their toilets with traditional Soharay and Kohabar art.  Thus, toilets have become a symbol of pride for the people of Dadi Block.

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