Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on 10th April, 2018 honoured 10 Swachhagrahis who have performed outstandingly to bring about behaviour change, sanitation and open defecation (ODF) status to their respective villages and gram panchayats. The event was a culmination of a week-long campaign titled Satyagraha se Swachhagraha (SSS) held in Bihar from 3rd to 10th April 2018.
As many as 10,000 Swachhagrahis from different parts assembled in the land of Buddha for the campaign and worked alongside 10,000 local Swachhagrahis to trigger behaviour change throughout the 38 districts of the State and build further momentum for the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign.
SSS marked the end of the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha. Launched over a century ago, on 10th April 1917, Champaran Satyagraha was launched by Mahatma Gandhi to improve the condition of people in Bihar, including basic education, skill development, women empowerment and cleanliness.
Soon after addressing the 20,000 Swachhagrahis in Champaran District on 10th April, the PM presented awards to the following. The Government of India has also awarded other Swachhagrahis who have made exceptional contributions to the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G).
- Monika Ijardar from Rajgarh district, Chhattisgarh
One of the most devoted followers of Community Approaches to Sanitation; Monika Ijardar is a well educated young motivator who contributed to making her village and later the whole gram panchayat open defecation free. Not stopping there, she went ahead to use the same approach to mobilize people from the surrounding villages and GPs. Owing to her unrelenting efforts, as many as 61 GPs became ODF in the district, and her block was the first to be declared free from open defecation.
- Bonti Saikia from Jorhat district, Assam
Bonti Saikia could have been forgotten by people of her village as another president of their gram panchayat but for her never say die spirit to make the village and GP open defecation free. She left no stone unturned to ensure that every household had a toilet and people used them. The methods used by Saikia were simple and persistent, adopted with the sole objective of making her village and thereby the society healthier and better. Today, her GP office is one of the cleanest and well-maintained in the district and there has been significant decline in diarrhoea cases in the tea gardens.
- Yeshi Wangmu from Tawang district, Arunachal Pradesh
Yeshi Wangmu’s dedication towards the goals of SBM-G motivated her to continue working till the desired behaviour change was achieved in the villages of Jang Block – an area that faced the most resistance and negative attitude from community members towards construction and use of toilets. Innumerable gram sabha meetings and IEC activities were conducted to increase awareness and to mobilize the community. In addition, wider cooperation was sought not only from individual households but also from PRI (Panchayat Raj Institutions) members to make IEC activities more effective. The ODF status of the village and GP and behaviour change of its people are attributed to the passionate work of Yeshi.
- Rinku Kumari from Nalanda district, Bihar
Rinku Kumari was nominated for her passionate work as a Swachhagrahi leading to her village, panchayat and later 10 wards in the vicinity becoming open defecation free. Owing to her passion and motivation, the mobilization activity that normally takes months or years was completed within two months. She used all the community mobilization tools that she learnt to make the community aware of the issues associated with open defecation. In addition, she held detailed discussions with mothers and other elders in the community on the economic benefits of constructing and using toilets. This inspired a jan andolan and toilets were constructed in quick succession.
- Manilal Rana from Banswada district, Rajasthan
Manilal used all the tools available in armoury of a Swachhagrahi – motivation, inter personal communication, village meetings, triggering, and awareness building activities to catalyse behaviour change towards the use of safe sanitation practices including construction and use of toilets. He also advocated twin pit toilet technology which is both safe and effective. Giving a ceremonial feel to the exercise, every morning the Sarpanch and Nigrani Samiti members along with a priest visited homes to mark the layout of the toilet. The novel practice enthralled and motivated households to construct toilets.
- Jupelli Neeraja from Rajana Sircilla district, Telangana
A passionate sanitation champion, Jupelli Neeraja did everything in her power to inspire the community to build and use toilets. In the beginning, emphasis was on motivation, mason training, group meetings, door to door visits, etc., but later shifted to community monitoring. Leading from the front, Neeraja motivated and personally monitored all common open defecation spots every morning. Thereafter, to manage waste, she encouraged the use of compost pipes by which vegetable waste could be converted into manure for use in kitchen gardens and farms.
- Rajalakshmi from Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu
An active member of a Self-Help Group (SHG), Rajalakshmi effectively engaged in the sanitation campaign and inter-personal community activities. The village of Alamarathupatty became ODF, owing to her efforts. Also, as master trainer, she nurtured many motivators. Promoting access to toilet as a right, she engaged wholeheartedly in community mapping and triggering exercises. Her regular meetings with the village poverty reduction committee and Panchayat leaders and school awareness programmes led to other drives for toilet construction and use.
- Morish Jharia from Simdega district, Jharkhand
Having taken it upon himself to make his panchayat open defecation free, Morish Jharia fully dedicated himself to the cause. His specific contributions include igniting the community, transporting construction material using bullock carts or cycles and in most remote areas on his head and shoulders. This accelerated the campaign as the panchayat lacked road connectivity. Moreover, he acted as a role model, motivating others to make every possible effort to build and use toilets. His selfless service has been recognized by the District Collector.
- Ateeq Ahmad from Bijnor district, Uttar Pradesh
A swachhata champion, Ateeq Ahmad is highly skilled in behaviour change communication and a strong proponent of the Community Approaches to Sanitation. Having mastered the art of community triggering, he has trained and nurtured many other motivators. To bring about the desired behaviour change, he designed posters, booklets and brochures using examples suited to local culture and context. The Swachhata Song, Key Steps of Triggering and a couple of short movies on sanitation that he created are now being used across the state.
- A Ramesh from Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh
Ramesh has actively contributed to the process of making his village ODF. The Mandal administration counted on his support in all triggering and community mobilization activities. He also ensured that construction material was available for all building activity and resolved issues that arose from time to time. Since he won the confidence of the community, he acted as a liaison between the administration and people during daily monitoring and sorted out ground level problems. Decline in health problems and increase in productivity in the village is to some extent a result of his efforts.