All the 70 families from the backward village of Natho Ka Bas in Dhonde gram panchayat of Dholpur district in Rajasthan now have their own toilets. It took just 35 days for the district administration to trigger the community and convince them to build toilets, said District Project Coordinator (Swachh Bharat Mission), Manoj Kumar.
Initially, bringing about behaviour change in the village of nomadic tribes who live in homes that are tents from the front and a makeshift structure at the back was a considerable challenge. To begin with, it was an unsettled life for the community with most of the men-folk dressing up as Nath babas (devotees) to wander outside their village, seeking alms. In fact, going from home to home asking for donations in the form of grain or money was their main livelihood.
In addition, the people were illiterate, impoverished and landless, and used to defecating in the open, having done so for generations.
Looking back on their ODF campaign, Kumar said that it was the men who were first convinced of the need for toilets rather than the women who are still under the veil.
“We appealed to the men, pointing out that when they wandered about to neighbouring villages, their women-folk who normally remained behind were vulnerable to various kinds of attacks,” he said. Building toilets would help protect the pride and dignity of their wives, sisters and children, the men were told.
In addition, people from villages surrounding the gram panchayat, also conveyed to the community, the ill effects of open defecation and the advantages of good sanitation practices; and how it would contribute to the well being of their entire community.
On its part, the gram panchayat put in place supply chain management, offered incentives and convinced the families to donate some of their savings. On an average, about 2 toilets were constructed each day at a cost of Rs 7000 each, until all homes had toilets.