Kursakanta Block is one of the most backward and interior Blocks of Araria District in Bihar where clean water and sanitation have been among the major challenges in the past, for the marginalized community living there. All that has changed now, owing to a revolving fund, that is assisting the socially backward community in toilet construction and converting dysfunctional toilets to functional.
Taking a lead, the District Collector, Araria, Mr. Himanshu Sharma has sanctioned 50 lakh as revolving funds to Jeevika SHGs in Plasi Block which will help them build toilets for around 800 Households. Further, the District administration has plans to enhance the fund to 1 crore which will help meet the target.
According to District Collector and Director DRDA, the District is committed to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Araria that stipulates clean water and sanitation for all.
Clean water and sanitation are among the most basic of human needs. Before the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission- Gramin there was lack of awareness in the community. Village Organisations (VOs) in Kursakanta Block of Araria and BPIU-Jeeviak (Block Program Implementation Unit of Jeevika) have been keen to address the situation.
The Government of Bihar through the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), an autonomous body under the Department of Rural Development, is spearheading the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (BRLP), locally known as JEEViKA with the objective of social and economic empowerment of the rural poor.
In Araria there are total 16500 SHG Groups that come from approximately 1,70,000 households. While toilets for 50,000 households were constructed earlier, a balance of 40,000 toilets is still required. Thanks to the motivation of District Collector and Director-DRDA, and owing to the best practices in using of revolving fund, Uttar Bihar Gramin Bank (UBGB) under their Disbursement programme had earlier distributed Rs. 65.07 lakhs among 85 SHGs to benefit approximately 900 households of the women’s group.
This has supported toilet construction and retrofitting of toilets that either had single pit toilets or toilets with septic tanks. It is common knowledge that the twin-pit toilet is the safest toilet technology most suited to rural India and recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the Centre.
Currently in District, there is a good pool of revolving funds which are utilized in an optimum manner for toilet construction and retrofitting, according to ZSBP-Araria, Mr. Bhushan Shah. Owing to this, a positive message is being sent out to the community at the grassroot level, reinforced with the good pace of construction.
The Fund is better utilized by the Village Organization for the benefit of the village. If a village is open defecation free (ODF), the Fund is utilized for ODF sustainability by the women’s group of the village. The fund which is used for the overall benefit of the community is ensuring greater involvement and participation of the community.
Inputs: Bhushan Shah (ZSBP-Araria) & Binay Kosal (Coodinator-Araria)