From awareness building rallies to door to door campaigns, and street plays to quality testing of water, the district administration of Una in Himachal Pradesh has been engaged in an integrated campaign, addressing needs of all stakeholders including migrant labourers and slum communities in their efforts to make the district open defecation free (ODF).
As per the directions of the State Government, the District launched an ‘ODF and Safe Drinking Water campaign’ with atarget to construct the balance 4997 toilets, the time frame being September 28, 2016 to October 20, 2016. By October 15, 2016 all the toilets were built, making all the 234 gram panchayats ODF, as verified by the inter-block committee, said Rajender Kumar Gautam, Deputy Director-cum-Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency, Una.
The achievement was no small feat, according to Gautam. It was common practice in the area to defecate in the open followed through the ages. People were not aware that it caused disease and stunting – both physical and cognitive. In this regard, the support of NGOs was enlisted to sensitize people and motivate them to construct and use toilets.
To begin with, the SDMs convened meetings of sub division level ‘ODF and Safe Drinking Water committee’ during which they chalked out strategies and constituted sanitation teams headed by sanitation team heads (STH). Further, the district administration involved all government departments, encouraging their active participation in making their district ODF. Field officers of the government departments were directed to involve all sections of the community and carry out door-to-door campaigning.
Also, sanitation teams were constituted in a cluster of 2 to 3 GPs. Their responsibility was to cover households which had not constructed IHHLs as per 2012 base line survey and to sensitize them to construct IHHLs by 10th October, 2016.
In addition, sectors constituting of about 10 GPs were formed and headed by sector officers of the rank of SDOs and ADOs. These sector officers supervised and monitored progress on a day to day basis. Moreover, Sub Divisional Magistrates(SDM) were requested to monitor the progress under their respective sub divisions and intervene for facilitation in critical cases.
While the Irrigation and Public Health Department was asked to ensure cleaning and quality testing of drinking water of the rural water resources and provide day to day reporting, the Superintendent of Police directed the police force to make challans for littering during the campaign period.
There was more! Block Development Officers carried out physical verification of GPs already declared ODF and obtained resolutions of the GPs being declared ODF during the campaign period. For such GPs, ODF verification was done from 10th October, 2016 to 20th October, 2016.
Una is home to a number of slums and migratory labourer colonies. With a view to addressing the needs of such migrant labourers and providing them with access to sanitation facilities, the Labour and Employment Officer inspected all brick kilns of District Una to assess the situation. The ADM convened a meeting with the owners of Brick kilns and took up the matter with them. This resulted in building of 41 sanitation facilities to cater to migrant labourers.
In addition, slum colonies were identified and BDOs were directed to explore possibilities of constructing community sanitary complexes. As many as 100 toilets were thereafter constructed for migrant labourers during the campaign period.
One of the most backward gram panchayats in the district is Bohru in the Development Block of Bangana. Special focus was given to this GP and a team comprising of BDO Bangana, its sporting staff and officers of IPH, PWD, Education, ICDS, and revenue visited it time and again to motivate the community. Their support resulted in the construction of the 60 balance toilets.
Children and Youth
Not wanting to leave out the school children, the Deputy Director Higher and Elementary Education asked schools to organise rallies, debates and painting contests on hazards of open defecation. They also identified children whose homes did not have toilets. Teachers made special efforts to sensitize these children to tell their parents to construct toilets.
The health Department involving members of Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals, School teachers, Anganwadi Workers and NGOs organized various health Camps to build awareness on the causes of different diseases, use and disposal of sanitary pads and diapers and on the need for toilets.