With the intention of speeding up verification of open defecation free (ODF) gram panchayats and ensuring sustainability of that status, Jharkhand has taken various initiatives including the observation of ‘ODF Verification Pakhwada’ from 8th to 22nd January, 2018 during which it hopes to complete 100% verification.
In addition, on the 2nd of every month, a special village meeting (Swachhta Sabha) on the topic of sanitation will be organized in every village. The meeting will focus on awareness, sustainability, ownership and use of toilets. During those meetings, the cleanest house and ward will be recognized.
Further, in order to inculcate good habits right from early childhood and promote hygiene and sanitation in all schools, Swachhta Diwas will be celebrated in every school and anganwadi on the 19th of every month. At this event too, awards will be presented. As for higher classes, there will be debates and discussions on sanitation with the involvement of the child cabinet and participation of parents.
The state is hopeful that over 1000 gram panchayats will be verified by the end of January 2018.
With sanitation coverage of barely 30.08% in October 2014, Jharkhand has come a long way. The number of individual household latrines (IHHL) that had to be built at that time including repairing of defunct toilets was 19,81,400. Besides, it had huge challenges including those pertaining to its geographical structure. Rocky terrain, high water table in certain areas and water scarcity in others, and segments affected by naxalite movement only compounded the issue. While the number of dysfunctional toilets was huge, the state also lacked skilled manpower or masons.
Fortunately, the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) state officials were able to tap into various funds such as DMFT (District Mineral Foundation Trust), CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), State Fund as well as MLA fund.
In addition, new technologies were introduced – Setu technology, use of rocks instead of bricks in a few areas, and collective sanitation marketing. Also, a whole new cadre of masons was trained on toilet construction technology.
As far as behaviour change was concerned, the State officials employed various strategies to convince people to adopt safe sanitation practices and to build and use toilets. Among them was a massive IPC campaign carried out at GP level, a number of CLTS (community led total sanitation) trainings, as well as use of regional/folk media. To keep the momentum going, there was periodic follow, institutional capacity building, cross learnings through exposure visits, engaging of foot soldiers and capacity building of Swachchagrahis. Throughout it all, there was regular monitoring and field visits made by the Secretary – DW&SD, Jharkhand, the Mission director and other officials.
The sanitation coverage of the state as on 12th January, 2018 stands at 66.84% and three districts, namely Ramgarh, Koderma, Lohardagga are now ODF. The target date for the entire state to become ODF is 31st December, 2018.
(Inputs from Rashmi Kumar, ZSBP State Coordinator, Ranchi)