With a view to bringing colour and happiness into the lives of the village communities in Dumka district of Jharkhand, the district has embarked on a campaign titled, Rang Bharein Dumka Mein. The initiative is a part of the Swachh Sundar Shauchalaya (SSS) Contest being held across rural India from 1st to 31st January 2019, with an aim to mobilize rural households to beautify their toilets.
Dumka has taken the SSS campaign a step further and decided to paint all government buildings including panchayat bhawans, anganwadis other than toilets to make the whole district both clean and colourful.
SSS Campaign intends to instill a sense of pride among the households as they make their toilets aesthetically pleasing while increasing ownership and promoting sustained usage.
Commenting on the Dumka initiative, State Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak (ZSBP) of Jharkhand, Ms. Isha Singh said, “Colour speaks louder than words. We want our district to maintain sanitation and hygiene and be free from disease. The campaign not only makes toilets colourful, it enhances creativity of people, increasing their sense of ownership as they consider their facility with a sense of pride,” she said.
Ahead of the campaign, on 3rd January, a meeting was held for government officials from all departments and they were informed about the ‘Rang Bharo Dumka’ initiative, seeking their cooperation in painting all government buildings in the district. During the meeting, Jalsahiyas (swachhagrahis for water) were awarded and informed about the SSS campaign.
Since the start of the campaign, there has been enormous enthusiasm. Some beneficiaries and SHGs (Self Help Groups) came forward and took the responsibility of making their villages colourful. On their part, people from villages have been painting their toilets, adorning them with vibrant colours and motifs that are culturally significant with messages to sustain safe sanitation practices.
To motivate people, awards have been announced. SHG Groups, beneficiaries and Mukhiyas of GP and individuals who paint their toilets most creatively will be awarded both at district and state levels. To increase momentum, the Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC) visited several villages and even participated in painting a toilet that motivated others to join in.
Dumka was declared open defecation free (ODF) on 15th November, 2018. The achievement was remarkable considering that sanitation coverage in the rural areas was barely 13.23% prior to October 2014.
The main challenge was changing behavior of people who traditionally practiced open defecation since the time of their forefathers. In addition, majority of the people in the district belonged to Schedule tribes, SC communities who were dependent on agriculture. As many as 1,55,722 households needed toilets.
To generate the need for toilets and bring about positive behavior change with regard to sanitation, the district administration engaged in various IPC (inter personal communication) activities such as door to door visits, triggering and awareness building exercises, screening of movies such as Toilet Ek Prem Katha, Nukkad Natak, wall paintings, etc. Further, Self Help Groups (SHGs) were involved and swachhagrahis were trained and appointed to carry out morning and evening follow up of common open defecation sites.
Behaviour change was brought about gradually and people now realize the importance of using toilets and keeping their surrounding clean and hygienic for the health and well being of all their families.