Kanchipuram, the land of hand woven silks which was declared open defecation free (ODF) on 6th March, 2018 is implementing many initiatives such as a 3-tier monitoring system and use of sanitation cards, among others, to sustain its ODF status.
Sanitation cards: The district administration has introduced sanitation cards to monitor regular usage of toilets in rural areas. As per this initiative, cards are issued to beneficiaries who constructed toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects or by NGOs. In addition, beneficiaries who construct toilets on their own are also issued these cards.
When SHG members, District or Block level officers or Sarpanchs visit a home twice a month, he/she will check if the toilet is being used. If a toilet is found operational during inspection, they will mark YES and NO if not in use. The card details will be consolidated at village level. Such sanitation cards are also issued to all anganwadis and schools in the district in order to rank schools and anganwadis based on their best practices in sanitation.
3 tier monitoring system: The district administration has set up committees at three levels – district, block and village. Each of those committees has specific roles and responsibilities, involving all stakeholders who participate in sustaining sanitation related activities in homes, schools, health centres, panchayat institutions, and the common spaces in villages.
ODF Verification: So far, ODF verification has been completed for 408 village panchayats out of 633. This was done in two stages. When a Gram Panchayat declares itself as ODF by passing resolution in the Gram Sabha, the first level verification is carried out soon after at the Block level by Deputy Block Development Officers. This involves 100% household verification followed by the signing of an ODF verification booklet by those officers and duly submitted to the block offices. Second level verification on the other hand, is done at the district level. Under this, the district administration forms a District Level Verification Team (DLVT) comprising of Assistant Director (AD) grade officers who verify 10% households and all institutional toilets in that panchayat based on block level verification. If any gap is identified, a month’s time is given to that panchayat to fill the gap.
Geo-tagging: Currently, geo-tagging has been completed for 84.24% of households out of a total of 189066. All village level functionaries of the Rural Development Department such as Panchayat Secretaries, Zonal Deputy BDOs, Block Coordinators and women from Self Help Group (SHG) have been engaged in this task.
Retrofitting: During the construction of twin pit toilets in 2014 – 15, masons built single pit toilets in the absence of knowledge about twin pit toilets. In time, people stopped using them. To address this, the district administration has formed village level retrofitting teams consisting of motivators, panchayat secretaries and zonal deputy BDOs to visit homes and inspect single pit toilets and advise people to convert them into twin pits. In all their interactions the twin pit toilet model is promoted rather than a septic tank toilet.
Dysfunctional to functional: A survey conducted earlier revealed that as many as 8326 toilets were dysfunctional. From these, about 5000 dysfunctional toilets were made functional by the beneficiaries themselves. Particularly in areas such as Kundrathur, St. Thomas Mount, Thiruporur, almost all toilets were repaired or rebuilt and were being used by beneficiaries. To verify the numbers, district officers cross verified 10% of the 5000, on a random basis and found them to be functional. The remaining 3326 toilets were found to be fully damaged. Those households were provided financial assistance through the local Self Help Groups who engaged private companies to construct new toilets for them. Such construction work was monitored by the SHG leaders and cluster facilitators.
Swachhagrahis: In Kanchipuram, 642 Swachhagrahis have been engaged for ODF sustainability activities in 633 village panchayats. They motivate communities to follow safe sanitation practices and manage their waste through various IEC activities. The outstanding ones are awarded by the District Collector.
IEC Activities: On a regular basis, the district administration carries out various IEC activities such as rallies by school and college students, and door to door campaigns by women SHGs and village committees to promote toilet usage. In addition, every government school has a sanitation corner to keep children aware of sanitation issues. On all events of the district, a sanitation exhibition is organized, showing a twin pit toilet model. Further, sanitation awareness competitions are held among SHGs and school students to promote safe sanitation practices, and outstanding performers are awarded on events such as Independence and Republic Day.
Other activities: Village level medical camps are conducted by the village health nurse who provides information about the risk of disease from open defecation. Also, baby friendly toilet pans have been fixed in all anganwadis of the district.