Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) campaign has contributed immensely to the development of Arthe Khurd village in Shirpur Taluka of Dhule district in Maharashtra. It led to the construction of individual household toilets that provided access to safe sanitation, uplifted the plight of women, improved health of the community and cleanliness of the village.
Situated on the Shirpur-Shahad road, the village with a population of around 4000 people performed well under the Government of India’s flagship programme. As many as 794 families out of the total of 810 households had toilets constructed in their courdyards, ending the practice of open defecation that had been prevelant for generations.
Nevertheless, there were 16 households which did not have space for toilets or could not afford to have them constructed. The Gram Panchayat recognised the need for a community toilet that could be particularly beneficially to women who at times waited until dark to relieve themselves; and at the same time contribute to village sanitation and and well being of the community.
To cater to the 16 households as also for travellers and the floating population, a community sanitary complex was constructed in 2018-19 on Chandpuri road, as specified in the village development plan, using funds from the 14th Finance Commission.
The five-seater public toilet was fitted with lighting, water supply connection, wash basins, etc., and the walls were painted with attractive designs that promoted safe sanitation.
Once the CSC was constructed, the next challenge was to get people to use it. To encourage people to use them, the district administration engaged in inter personal communication through discussions during gram sabhas and house visits, when the benefits of using a toilet and the ill effects of defecating in the open, were made known.
Consistent efforts paid off and the use of the public toilets is now being regularized. The cost , maintenance and repair of the CSC which has become a beacon for other villages is taken care of by the Gram Panchayat
Inputs: Santosh B. Nerkar, IEC Expert, SBM-G, ZP Dhule