Madurai has every cause of celebrate. All its 420 village panchayats that comprise of as many as 1946 villages are now open defecation free (ODF). It was not an easy feat considering that defecating in the open, a tradition handed down through the generations was widely practiced. However, concerted efforts of the district administration coupled with people’s participation pulled it off.
The announcement was made at an event called, Kanavu Meippadal meaning ‘realising the dream’ organized by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) on 6th April, 2017, by the District Collector, K. Veera Raghava Rao. On the occasion, village leaders handed over their resolutions passed in this regard to the Collector.
According to Additional Collector and Project Officer (DRDA), Rohini Bidari, the achievement was special as Madurai which was previously ranked among the last with around 30% toilet coverage has now risen to being among the top performing districts of the State in terms of sanitation, in a matter of two years. Today, 97% per cent of rural households have their own toilets, while 3% of them have access to community toilets or shared toilet facilities.
Bidari reiterated that the success of their ODF campaign could be attributed to community participation. Among the activities carried out by DRDA were various campaigns such as Nirmal Madurai, Pongal, postcard, sanitation Mela, ODF Saturday Campaign, mason training, and ODF attendance, to name a few.
On the occasion, the Collector also unveiled an ODF Barometer. The device has five different levels to indicate: 100% access to toilets, 100 % usage of toilets, no incidents of open defecation, strong monitoring for sustainability, ODF and ODF plus Solid and Liquid Waste Management.
The device will be kept in all village panchayats with an arrow pointing to the current level of sanitation status of that particular village. Although all villages are currently ODF, if a village slips back, the arrow will be lowered accordingly.