Nearly 1000 members of 74 Self Help Groups (SHGs) from 7 village organisations have committed to making their villages open defecation free (ODF) within a month’s time. The move reinforces the determination of women in this district as in other parts of the country, in taking forward the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBMG) campaign.
The women met at a programme organised on the school grounds of Utcramit Kanya Madhya Vidyalaya in Baghi panchayat of Tajpur Block in Samastipur District ahead of the Global Handwashing Day. The meeting was organised by the district administration under the aegis of JEEVIKA on 14th October, 2017, according to State IEC Consultant, Dr. Jhinuk Roy.
JEEVIKA (Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society under State Rural Livelihoods Mission-SRLM, Bihar) is an initiative of Government of Bihar for poverty alleviation. Its objectives are – social and economic empowerment of the rural poor and improving their livelihoods by developing institutions of women such as SHGs and their federations to enable them to access and negotiate better services, credit and assets from public and private sector agencies and institutions.
The programme was carried out under the supervision of BRLPS Block Manager cum Nodal officer Mr. Osama Hussain with the support of other staff of the block office and cadres of Jeevika.
During the meeting, the concepts of SBMG were clarified, touching upon methods of triggering; sustainable sanitation practices through regular usage of toilets; behaviour change communication for health education; handwashing, and toilet technology with a focus on twin pit toilet technology. In addition, the techniques of proper handwashing were demonstrated and the meeting concluded with a rally of SHG members and school children.
Significantly, the women were encouraged to accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas and eliminate the practice of open defecation within a month’s time.
Among the resource persons that participated were: Mukhiya Shri Ram Naresh Singh (Panchayat Head), BRLPS Block Manager cum Nodal officer Mr. Osama Hussain, Shambhu Singh-Accountant- Block office, Jeevika staff such as Community Coordinators, Community Mobilizers, Bank Mitras, School Teachers, and BC of DWSC.
Extensive preparations were made by the Nodal Officer ahead of this meeting. For starters, ward wise Ratri choupals (night meetings) were organized for triggering and several focused group discussions were organised to motivate SHG members to participate in the programme.
With 3 of the 12 wards in the district already declared ODF, the SBM officers are confident that the remaining wards will be ODF within the month.
Over the past few months, the district has seen increasing activities from SHG members who have been taking loans from various groups to construct toilets. In addition, SHG members of this block have started taking collective action on issues concerning their rights and their own suppression. In doing so, the SHGs have demonstrated that they are among the most effective groups in the SBM campaign.
Further, although the Government of Bihar prohibited alcohol on April 1, 2016, Jeevika didis (members of the groups) in this block had imposed prohibition in some of their own villages much earlier.