The sanitation campaign in Vizianagaram titled “10000 toilets in 100 hours” came to a successful close on 14th March with construction of 10,449 toilets, a little over the targeted number. The humongous efforts made by the community and district administration have resulted in making 44 gram panchayats (GPs) open defecation free (ODF) out of the 71 selected for the campaign.
The 100-hour campaign was launched and brought to an end by the District Collector (DC), Mr. Vivek Yadav at the Sunkaripeta hamlet in Vizianagaram Mandal with the traditional rituals. “There was wide scale participation of people from all walks of the society – NGOs, civil society organizations, community based organizations and UNICEF, all of who extended enormous support to the district administration,” he said.
Vizianagaram which is home to 923 GPs has a mere 21% toilet coverage. Prior to the start of the campaign somewhere close to 3,50,000 toilets were needed to be constructed. This campaign covered 2 GPs from each of the 34 Mandals, and later three more were added at the request of the Mandal Parishad Development Officers (MPDO) to make the total tally to 71 GPs.
As many as 20,000 masons and labourers and 3000 government officials and functionaries were put on the job during the campaign that started at 6 AM on 10th March and ended at 10 AM on 14th March, adding up to 100 hours, taking into consideration the nights as well.
In the process, all toilets were geo-tagged, and incentive for the same which included Rs 12,000 from the Centre and Rs 3,000 from the State Government were released to the beneficiary families. Honeycomb leach pits were constructed at a massive scale for the first time in Vizianagaram district – an innovative initiative, which is used as an alternative to cement rings.
The support from the community towards the campaign was overwhelming, particularly from tribal women. They voluntarily offered their services not only in digging of pits but also taking care of food and other needs of the masons and workers. Having participated in community meetings earlier, they were aware of the need for toilets and this opportunity to build toilets at home.
While the campaign took on a festive atmosphere, there was enthusiasm all around. Towards the end of the campaign, Nigrani committees were formed in every GP with many women volunteering to be on them. These committees which have been equipped with paraphernalia such as whistles, badges and radium jackets will ensure that all people use their toilets.
Although the 100-hour campaign was successful, the district has a long way to go before it achieves ODF status.
In the pipeline are plans to build another 20,000 toilets during the second week of April 2017, according to the State Consultant (WASH), Mr. Ravikanth Mazumdar. Needless to say, the team would take into account learning from the previous campaign. One is to train more masons on technical aspects such as the dimensions of leach pits. Ravikanth also said some people preferred the higher costing septic tank and so were reluctant to go for a twin pit toilet. Hence, more awareness building exercises were required.