Abburu, the gram panchayat (GP) in Sattenapalle Mandal of Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh that was declared open defecation free (ODF) on 5th February, 2016 is now an inspiration to other GPs owing to the host of ODF plus activities it has initiated.
ODF plus activities
For starters, it is laying cement concrete roads across the GP and has initiated a plantation drive. Further, it is in the process of covering all its drains and is organizing various amenities in its burial grounds, according to District Coordinator, Sai Kumar. Also in the pipeline is a system for solid waste management.
Looking back, it was the active participation of community by way of Shramdan; continuous monitoring of open defecation sites; review of construction of individual household latrines (IHHLs) and regular interaction between the sarpanch, the community and the district administration that led to Abburu achieving the ODF status.
At the start of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign in October 2014, the agricultural village comprising of 1080 households and a population of 4,200 was similar to other villages. About 40% of the homes, particularly those belonging to the economically backward had no toilets. Disease was common with at least one person falling sick every day. Further, the surroundings of the lake in the vicinity and the approach road to Abburu village were rather filthy. Incidentally, a woman who had been out to answer nature’s call died from snake bite in 2013.
Under the circumstances the SBM-G campaign was an urgent requirement. This was reinforced by the Speaker of the AP Legislative Assembly, Dr. Kodela Siva Prasada Rao, a medical practitioner by profession who identified that the major cause of the suffering of the community was improper sanitation. In fact, he initiated the programme titled Swachh Satanapalle and organised social mobilization with innovative approaches such as conducting health camps, and interpersonal communication to carry forward the sanitation message.
The district administration organized awareness building sessions and carried out a survey to identify homes without toilets. Even as it set up rural sanitary marts, it involved the community rather than hiring labourers which reduced cost considerably. It also put in place a task force committee to explain the benefits of sanitation; monitor open defecation hot spots and assess the situation. Also, it set up community toilets so that no family was left behind. These were particularly useful for migrant labourers who arrived in the village for seasonal labour. At all times, feedback was sought from all stakeholders.
When it came to construction, sand, cement and other construction material were supplied to beneficiaries at concessional rates. Further, the district administration organized advance amounting to Rs one lakh while each of the Mandal Parishad Development Offices were set to meet gaps in supply of critical inputs. Further, it released revolving funds to each of the Mandal Mahila Samakhyas through the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) that made a provision of Rs 2000 as advance to SC/ST and SHG women. In addition, there was convergence with various line departments.
The Sarpanch of Abburu, Katta Ramesh requires special mention. He prepared an action plan and facilitated the construction of 430 toilets, while involving the community. Along with door to door awareness, beneficiaries were provided with tiles, hanger, soap stand, bucket, mug and toilet cleaning brush and advised about toilet maintenance.