Over the past month, 45 year old vegetable vendor, Sharanamma has been giving away one kilogram of tomatoes for free; to each home that has a toilet in the Dhanapur village of Gangavathi Taluk in Koppal District of Karnataka.
“I want to show my appreciation for those who have built toilets and are using them and at to encourage those who do not have toilets to go for them,” Sharanamma said. She added that she was doing everything she could to support the Swachh Bharat Mission and the betterment of society.
According to Project Director of Koppal Zilla Panchayat, Ravi Basarihalli, ever since the Swachh Bharat Mission campaign began in her village, the vegetable vendor has been convinced about the need for safe sanitation practices. Of the 579 households in Dhanpur, 227 homes were yet to have sanitation facilities and open defecation was common among them. Having built a toilet at her tome, she wanted all other homes to have toilets as well so that health and well-being of all people in her village would improve.
She was well aware of the difficulties – finding a lonely spot, dignity issues, etc. – that she faced when forced to defecate in the open. She now wanted everyone else also to make sanitation a priority as she believed progress would invariably follow.
The vegetable vendor whose husband is an agricultural labourer has not had it easy. It was sheer hard work that enabled her to improve circumstances of her family. After significant struggle, she was able to send her daughter to school, who is now studying for a law degree.
In an effort to make Koppal District Open Defecation Free (ODF), the district administration has carried out various activities. On the occasion of World Toilet Day, as many as 1.95 lakh students, 5550 teachers and 1336 schools – both primary and high schools across the district were involved in awareness programmes, rallies and competitions on the topics of health and hygiene. Further, as a part of the SBMG campaign, post cards were distributed to the education department. Schools got involved in this initiative, and about 1.26 lakh students wrote post cards to their parents appealing to them to build toilets at home.
With about 16 villages verified as ODF on October 2, 2016, the district has a little over 50% toilet coverage, according to the State Project Director.