With a view to liberating the villages of Jhunjhunu, in Rajasthan, from the evils of open defecation, the District Water and Sanitation Committee of the Zila Parishad worked relentlessly and carried out numerous activities to raise awareness amongst people to adopt safe sanitation practices.
Some interesting initiatives adopted by the district administration are as follows:
Attacking ancient traditions: In ancient times, people were accustomed to defecating in the open, and toilets were considered to be a curse. However, the district administration carried out many awareness building and triggering exercises to motivate people. Thereafter, inspired by the Prime Minister, village communities constructed toilets in their homes and began to use them. The biggest challenge was to build toilets for the impoverised families. However, thanks to the government incentive, even those homes got their toilets.
Sustainability of toilet use: Team Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) effectively conveyed the need to fight insanitation and disease. To seek their cooperation, the programmes implemented catered to various sections of the society – children, parents and teachers, involving the whole community, making them aware of how they can improve their hygiene practices in simple ways. Considerable focus was laid on school toilets and children were encouraged to join the fight against open defecation and take the ODF campaign ahead. Efforts yielded results when whole community decided to save money in order to build toilets within the school premises for their children as a part of the Model School Programme.
Stringent ODF verification: The first verification of toilets was done by one gram panchayat of another village panchayat; while the second physical verification was done by one Panchayat Samiti of another Panchayat Samiti. Gaps identified were then set right. Efforts were made to generate a civic sense among the communities and build awareness about hygiene and sanitation, particularly the need to use toilets. Awareness building and monitoring was a continuous process.
Geo-tagging the assets: A provision was made to upload photos of toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin of eligible families. In Jhunjhunu, till date 141778 photographs have been uploaded against a target of 143157, achieving a target of 99.04%. The balance will be completed soon.
Converting dysfunctional to functional: The construction of so many toilets in a short span of time was not an easy task. Some toilets were not in use and hence rendered dysfunctional. To address this, village committees were formed who provided building material and artisans to repair toilets. Financial assistance was also made available which was later refunded by the beneficiaries. Thus, all dysfunctional toilets were converted to functional and today there are no dysfunctional toilets in the district.
Owing to regular monitoring, training, and motivation by the District Collector Mr. Dinesh Kumar Yadav and CEO, Zila Parishad, Jhunjhunu, Mr. J. P. Bunkar, the target was achieved in desired time and the district was declared ODF 1 ½ years before the target date of October 2, 2019. The achievement was made despite the fact that the district was home to many poor people and labourer communities. Efforts are ongoing to ensure toilet usage and maintenance.
By Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan