With a view to accelerating the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin movement, the District Collector of Tirunelveli has designed an innovative campaign titled Tirunelveli Sanitation League that through convergence of various government departments will ensure that the entire district becomes open defecation free (ODF) by October 31, 2017.
The tag line of the campaign – ‘Kattimudinga Jeithukaatunga – Annachi use the toilet’ translates – ‘complete your toilet construction; show that you are winners,’ appeals to the menfolk in particular to use their toilets.
To date, as many as 137 gram panchayats (GPs) have been declared ODF while 1.22 lakh toilets are yet to be built in 288 GPs, before the district can achieve 100 per cent ODF status.
The departments that are working with the district administration in this campaign are Public Health, Integrated Child Development, Education, Social Welfare, Agriculture, Rural Development, and Cooperative. Meanwhile, a group of active women motivators have committed their whole hearted support to the programme, having taken several steps already to encourage village communities to build individual household toilets and use them.
The Sanitation League was launched in collaboration with UNICEF during the five day training of trainers on 10th July, 2017, that saw the participation of over 100 motivators.
Objectives of the campaign
According to district collector, Mr. Sandeep Nandurai the objectives of the campaign are to ensure effective: triggering and followup; construction of twin pit toilets; rectifying of dysfunctional individual and public toilets; community based monitoring of toilet usage; holding of gram sabhas during village ODF declaration; promotion of waste segregation at household level; participation of students, SHGs and village community in sanitation activities; and time bound action plan (3 months) to complete construction.
Rules for participating
The league has been open to all gram panchayats in the 19 blocks of the district and the last date for filing entries for each block was 31st July. Participants were divided into two categories – A for those village panchayhats who had to build 300 or less individual household toilets and ensure their usage towards achieving ODF status; and B for village panchayats who had to build more than 300 toilets.
Best of all, the event promoted equal opportunities and healthy competition among companies who were contributing through CSR. Once a village was declared ODF, verification was to be done by a district verification team during November through December 2017 following which results would be announced.
Prize and recognition
From category A, the winning village panchayat would be awarded Rs 10 lakh worth of development projects and all decisions pertaining to the same would be decided at the gram sabha to be held on 26th January, 2018. As far as Category B is concerned, the winning village panchayat would be awarded Rs 20 lakh worth of development projects. Moreover special prizes would be given to masons, SHG members, school teachers, student ambassadors, ICDS workers, doctors, nurses for their extraordinary contributions towards the sanitation campaign. There’s more. While BDOs would be awarded for their performance towards making their block ODF, companies that sponsored or adopted villages during the league would be suitable rewarded.
Special provisions made during the campaign
The district collector made a special appeal to the corporate sector to contribute their CSR funds and adopt villages for construction of toilets; and held convergence meetings with all key departments of the government. In addition, as many as 200 engineers and overseers were oriented on the technical aspects of appropriate leach pit technology. Faith based organisations such as churches were involved and loans were mobilised through micro-finance to construct toilets. Also, 103 motivators were trained and deployed in the field. Not to leave them behind, students were encouraged to participate through various exhibitions and selected students were appointed ambassadors to act as change agents. A special handbook on sanitation was provided to them.
Prior to implementation of the league, vendors and suppliers of construction material were sensitised to promote twin pit toilet technology. In addition, special efforts were made in regions with hard rock strata and water scarce areas and where it is a challenge to transport construction material.
Further, Block Development Officers with support from department officials were asked to handhold GPs’ efforts to bring about total sanitation. Also, one officer was allocated to each GP to monitor construction, sanitation, hygiene and cleaning of drainage. Awareness about sanitation was also built through cultural activities.
Focus was given to collective behaviour change and pride, dignity and respect for both men and women. To equip trainers and motivators, intensive capacity building programmes, CATS training (community approach to total sanitation) and appropriate toilet technology were provided. Even as college students were oriented to social media campaigns, morning and evening followup were carried out. Significantly, monitoring was focussed on behaviour change and usage of toilets rather than building of toilets. Further, communities were encouraged to support the poorest of the poor. Regular press releases were issued to the media to ensure coverage.
The way forward
Through the process, the district administration has instilled a civic sense among the public, motivating them to adopt safe sanitation practices. It has generated enthusiasm among the masses to work together for a common goal. Sanitation has become a routine subject in schools now.
During the first lap of the sanitation league, as many as 5 blocks namely Kalakaadu, Pappukudi, Ambasamutram, Cheranmahadevi and Senchottai were declared ODF on August 15, 2017. The district administration is confident about making the balance 14 blocks ODF on target.