Experiences of team Hoshangabad (MP) in Bihar


When we arrived in Rahika block of Madhubani district in Bihar, we learnt that sanitation coverage in that area was just about 38%.  Hearing this, countless questions crowded my mind:  were people here ready for change; would they understand the need for toilets and cleanliness in general; will we be able to change their mindset?…

However, after conducting choupals (meetings), organizing rallies, talking to people in schools, madarsas, anganwadis, market places, bus stands, etc., in as many as 22 gram panchayats (GPs), we found that the village communities were ready to build toilets, to keep their market place clean by using garbage bins and also to keep their riverside clean by refraining from defecating in open.  In addition, we were able to identify 38 natural leaders who were willing to take forward the sanitation cause.

Here are a few instances:

  • In the Maksuda GP, we carried out a triggering exercise using the CAS approach (Community Approaches to Sanitation), with the intention of selecting inspired people to be a part of the Nigrani Samiti.  Considering that many of the people were from the Muslim community, we spoke of the teachings of Quran Sharif and Paigamber Hazrat on cleanliness and dignity of oneself.  In response, four individuals – Abdul Khalik, Bahida Bi, Arun Kumar and Hussain Kha said that they did not need the incentive of Rs. 12000.  “We are true Muslims, and constructing toilets will be our priority,” they said.
  • In Sundar Jitthi GP, we explained to the community that the practice of open defecation is polluting the River (Maa Ganga). If they continued this practice, a day will come when the water will not be suitable for drinking, we reiterated.  Hearing this, people instantly agreed to build toilets to protect their river.  They took an oath to deliver an ODF village to Maa Ganga by Ganga Dushara which falls on 23rd June this year.
  • The situation in Ijara GP was similar. People took an oath saying they will not allow human excreta to be seen in open surroundings; where a holy cow will come upon it.  Until our toilets are constructed, we will cover any excreta with sand.
  • In three GPs, we explained about issues concerning health and hygiene to shopkeepers and vegetable street vendors, while pointing to their unclean surroundings. Surprisingly, the people agree immediately to install dustbins and use them regularly.

By Akshant Nagar, ZSBP Hoshangabad


Nearly 16,000 toilets geo-tagged in Kannauj


The district administration of Kannauj, under the leadership of District Magistrate (DM), Ravindra Kumar has successfully constructed close to 22,000 toilets and completed geo-tagging of about 16,000 toilets in various gram panchayats (GPs), over the last month, as a part of the Sathyagraha se Swachhagraha (SSS) campaign.

Geo-tagging operation in the district has been christened “Izzatghar Ki Pehchaan Abhiyaan.”

SSS campaign was observed across the country, as a part of the Champaran centenary celebrations when around 10,000 Swachhagrahis from different States assembled in Bihar and participated in triggering behaviour change, alongside 10,000 Swachhagrahis from Bihar, thereby building further momentum for Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G).  In addition, districts across the country carried out various activities, as in the case of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh.

What is geo-tagging?

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) had notified all districts that individual household latrines (IHHL) that are built under SBM-G have to be geo-tagged.  Geo-tagging is crucial for monitoring of the toilets built, allowing a photograph to be associated with a particular location.  All smart phone models with camera and GPS can be used for geo-tagging; while feeding latitude and longitude data including the digital signature manually.

The activity is an attempt to put a dent on the corruption of IHHLs as the technology will enable officials to identify beneficiaries. The process of geo-tagging would not only point to exact location, but also weed out duplication of beneficiaries.


The DM while closely monitoring and evaluating the project involved associated officials and teams in the toilet construction and geo-tagging activity.  He held a meeting at 8.30 PM each night along with Chief Development Officer, District Development Officer, Block Development Officers, Assistant Development Officers and the SBM team to address and resolve all issues.

Key to attaining progress in geo-tagging progress was the involvement and mobilization of the Gram Panchayat secretaries and Gram Pradhans.  To accelerate this activity, as many as 115 new mobile users in 7 blocks of the district were trained, even as various Secretaries and Pradhans were actively involved in the geo-tagging process.

In addition, a nodal officer was assigned to each block to monitor the geo-tagging process throughout the day.  Also, every secretary was assigned a team consisting of Safai Karmis, Rozgar Sewaks, Swachhagrahis, etc, and was given complete responsibility for the geo-tagging of his allocated gram panchayats (GPs).  All this was closely monitored by the district administration and SBM team.

Night meeting

During the course of the campaign, an ODF (open defecation free) Command Room was set up.  It burned the midnight oil night after night, staying in touch with block and panchayat officials, while constantly monitoring progress.  Further, the District Panchayat Raj Officer, District Project Consultants, ZSBP and operators worked around the clock to ensure that all work was carried out smoothly and issues pertaining to MIS reporting and geo-tagging were given top priority and addressed as and when they arose. 

Mason training

Among the foremost activities of the SSS campaign was the on-site mason training from 21-23 March, 2017.  As many as 1800 masons were trained during this period and they were directed to work for the SBM-G campaign exclusively.  In addition, Swachhagrahis were deployed to their respective GPs after due orientation, enabling them to take ownership.


In terms of numbers, geo-tagging was done for approximately 4,000 toilets on 12th April; 4,500 on 13th April; and 3500 toilets on 17th and 18th April.  Plans are in the pipeline to complete 100% geo-tagging as early as possible.

Sanitation coverage of the historic town along the River Ganges was barely 18.75% in October 2014.  Today, the sanitation coverage stands at 86.18%, thanks to consistent efforts of the district administration and the 399 Swachhagrahis.  Currently as many as 361 villages have been declared ODF and geo-tagging stands at 66.92%.  The target for making the entire district ODF is May 2018.

Inputs:  Rishi Anurag, ZSBP – Kannauj

PM honours 10 outstanding Swachhagrahis


Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on 10th April, 2018 honoured 10 Swachhagrahis who have performed outstandingly to bring about behaviour change, sanitation and open defecation (ODF) status to their respective villages and gram panchayats.  The event was a culmination of a week-long campaign titled Satyagraha se Swachhagraha (SSS) held in Bihar from 3rd to 10th April 2018.

As many as 10,000 Swachhagrahis from different parts assembled in the land of Buddha for the campaign and worked alongside 10,000 local Swachhagrahis to trigger behaviour change throughout the 38 districts of the State and build further momentum for the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign.

SSS marked the end of the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha.  Launched over a century ago, on 10th April 1917, Champaran Satyagraha was launched by Mahatma Gandhi to improve the condition of people in Bihar, including basic education, skill development, women empowerment and cleanliness.

Soon after addressing the 20,000 Swachhagrahis in Champaran District on 10th April, the PM presented awards to the following.  The Government of India has also awarded other Swachhagrahis who have made exceptional contributions to the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G).

  1. Monika Ijardar from Rajgarh district, Chhattisgarh

monica ijardarOne of the most devoted followers of Community Approaches to Sanitation; Monika Ijardar is a well educated young motivator who contributed to making her village and later the whole gram panchayat open defecation free.  Not stopping there, she went ahead to use the same approach to mobilize people from the surrounding villages and GPs.  Owing to her unrelenting efforts, as many as 61 GPs became ODF in the district, and her block was the first to be declared free from open defecation.

  1. Bonti Saikia from Jorhat district, Assam

MS. BONTI SAIKIA 1Bonti Saikia could have been forgotten by people of her village as another president of their gram panchayat but for her never say die spirit to make the village and GP open defecation  free.  She left no stone unturned to ensure that every household had a toilet and people used them.  The methods used by Saikia were simple and persistent, adopted with the sole objective of making her village and thereby the society healthier and better.  Today, her GP office is one of the cleanest and well-maintained in the district and there has been significant decline in diarrhoea cases in the tea gardens.

  1. Yeshi Wangmu from Tawang district, Arunachal Pradesh

Yeshi Wangmu 2Yeshi Wangmu’s dedication towards the goals of SBM-G motivated her to continue working till the desired behaviour change was achieved in the villages of Jang Block – an area that faced the most resistance and negative attitude from community members towards construction and use of toilets.  Innumerable gram sabha meetings and IEC activities were conducted to increase awareness and to mobilize the community.  In addition, wider cooperation was sought not only from individual households but also from PRI (Panchayat Raj Institutions) members to make IEC activities more effective.  The ODF status of the village and GP and behaviour change of its people are attributed to the passionate work of Yeshi.

  1. Rinku Kumari from Nalanda district, Bihar

rinku kumariRinku Kumari was nominated for her passionate work as a Swachhagrahi leading to her village, panchayat and later 10 wards in the vicinity becoming open defecation free.  Owing to her passion and motivation, the mobilization activity that normally takes months or years was completed within two months.  She used all the community mobilization tools that she learnt to make the community aware of the issues associated with open defecation.  In addition, she held detailed discussions with mothers and other elders in the community on the economic benefits of constructing and using toilets.  This inspired a jan andolan and toilets were constructed in quick succession.

  1. Manilal Rana from Banswada district, Rajasthan

Manilal RanaManilal used all the tools available in armoury of a Swachhagrahi – motivation, inter personal communication, village meetings, triggering, and awareness building activities to catalyse behaviour change towards the use of safe sanitation practices including construction and use of toilets.  He also advocated twin pit toilet technology which is both safe and effective.  Giving a ceremonial feel to the exercise, every morning the Sarpanch and Nigrani Samiti members along with a priest visited homes to mark the layout of the toilet.  The novel practice enthralled and motivated households to construct toilets.

  1. Jupelli Neeraja from Rajana Sircilla district, Telangana

JUPELLI NEERJAA passionate sanitation champion, Jupelli Neeraja did everything in her power to inspire the community to build and use toilets.  In the beginning, emphasis was on motivation, mason training, group meetings, door to door visits, etc., but later shifted to community monitoring.  Leading from the front, Neeraja motivated and personally monitored all common open defecation spots every morning.  Thereafter, to manage waste, she encouraged the use of compost pipes by which vegetable waste could be converted into manure for use in kitchen gardens and farms.

  1. Rajalakshmi from Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu

S RAJALAXMI 1 (1)An active member of a Self-Help Group (SHG), Rajalakshmi effectively engaged in the sanitation campaign and inter-personal community activities.  The village of Alamarathupatty became ODF, owing to her efforts.  Also, as master trainer, she nurtured many motivators.  Promoting access to toilet as a right, she engaged wholeheartedly in community mapping and triggering exercises.  Her regular meetings with the village poverty reduction committee and Panchayat leaders and school awareness programmes led to other drives for toilet construction and use.

  1. Morish Jharia from Simdega district, Jharkhand

morishHaving taken it upon himself to make his panchayat open defecation free, Morish Jharia fully dedicated himself to the cause.  His specific contributions include igniting the community, transporting construction material using bullock carts or cycles and in most remote areas on his head and shoulders.  This accelerated the campaign as the panchayat lacked road connectivity.  Moreover, he acted as a role model, motivating others to make every possible effort to build and use toilets.  His selfless service has been recognized by the District Collector.

  1. Ateeq Ahmad from Bijnor district, Uttar Pradesh

ATEEQ AHMED 2A swachhata champion, Ateeq Ahmad is highly skilled in behaviour change communication and a strong proponent of the Community Approaches to Sanitation.  Having mastered the art of community triggering, he has trained and nurtured many other motivators.  To bring about the desired behaviour change, he designed posters, booklets and brochures using examples suited to local culture and context.  The Swachhata Song, Key Steps of Triggering and a couple of short movies on sanitation that he created are now being used across the state.

  1. A Ramesh from Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh

A RAMESH 3Ramesh has actively contributed to the process of making his village ODF.  The Mandal administration counted on his support in all triggering and community mobilization activities.  He also ensured that construction material was available for all building activity and resolved issues that arose from time to time.  Since he won the confidence of the community, he acted as a liaison between the administration and people during daily monitoring and sorted out ground level problems.  Decline in health problems and increase in productivity in the village is to some extent a result of his efforts.

ODF Punjab ensures ODF sustainability

The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab has issued a public notice through half page advertisements in all 15 newspapers of the state urging people to report cases of open defecation.

“Under Mission Swachh and Swasth Punjab, the Gram Panchayats of all the villages in Punjab have declared their villages as open defecation free.  Residents of all the villages are requested that if any one of the villages goes out for open defecation, then the information in this regard may be sent to below mentioned toll free number/email/Whatsapp number,” the newspaper notification said.

It also indicated that in case any eligible beneficiary has been left out from the scheme of providing incentive for construction of toilet, he/she may apply to avail of such assistance on a prescribed form until 24th April, 2018; adding that the deputy commissioner of their district can also be contacted with regard to the same.

The move comes in the wake of ODF (open defecation free) declarations by all districts in the land of five rivers.

According to State Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Mission Director, Mohd Ishfaq, as per the state’s ODF verification and sustainability protocol a 21-day Muniyadi and Tele calling campaign has been launched simultaneously.

This includes public announcements from Gurudwaras, morning and evening followup by nigrani committees and tele calling by gram panchayat functionaries.

Meanwhile, around 500 Swachhta Raths have been deployed across the state to spread the message of sanitation.

Contributions from people for Swachh Bhagpat

The district of Bhagpat situated on the east bank of River Yamuna in western Uttar Pradesh has built about 54,000 individual household toilets since the start of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) in October 2014 and was declared open defecation free (ODF) on  8th March, 2018 .  In a short span of three years sanitation coverage in the district has increased from about 60% to 100%.

According to ZSBP-Bhagpat, Radhika Singhal, various triggering activities were carried out to build awareness about safe sanitation practices amongst the community.  While those activities bore fruit when people began to build and use toilets, there are many accounts of individuals whose actions will remain a source of inspiration.  Here are some instances:

Neeraj Kumar BaghpatNeeraj Kumar, a Gram Pradhan of Hasanpur Jiwani gram panchayat in Baraut Block not only contributed to making his GP ODF, but also organized street lights, daily cleaning of public spaces and setting up of a new burial ground in a matter of 22 days.

Bebi, BhagpatHaving received inspiration from other groups, Bebi, a member of a Self Help Group in Garhi Kangran village convinced her family members to use group savings and take a loan to build a toilet in their home without waiting for the government incentive.

Suman, BaghpatAnganwadi worker – Suman also called Munni from Balvi village is a true Swachhagrahi.   With the support of her brother, she managed to convince around 70 people to refrain from using insanitary latrines.  She repeatedly encouraged them to build new toilets and use them.

Gautam, baghpatEncouraged by his father, 12-year-old Gautam from Hasanpur Jiwani village in Baraut, gifted a toilet to his sister Deepanshi (14) on the occasion of Raksha Bandan 2017.


Anju baghpatAnju is a member of a Self Help Group (SHG) in village Garhi Kangraan in Binauli. She managed to convince 7 women to make their own toilets using group savings and loans.  Through their group business activities, they managed to successfully pay back the loan.
Rajpal singh, baghpat

Ex-army servants Rajpal Singh and his friends continue to dedicate their lives for a better, safe and healthy India. They have convinced many people in village of Bavli to refrain from defecating in open.

NeelamNeelam was accustomed to defecating in an insanitary toilet, when the local swachhagrahi and village development officer convinced her to build a new twin pit toilet.  Neelam did not take long to understand the cause and effect relationship of using toilets and thereafter convinced other people as well.

Master Manguram, baghpatMaster Manguram from gram panchayat Faizullapur has been solving all issues in the GP without the involvement of police with the help of his gram sabha.  No police has ever gone there. The panchayat became ODF way back in 2016 and continues to sustain its ODF status.

After ensuring that his GP became ODF, Gram Pradhan of Dolcha Village had made a beautiful and clean library for students preparing for competitive and board exams.

Blue and green dustbinsGram Pradhan Gulshan Yadav had installed 10 sets of Blue and Green dustbins in his village Dolcha.  People are gradually getting used to the new habit of not littering.


Vijay Giri, baghpatVijay Giri gifted a self-made toilet to his wife (Brijesh) and daughter on the occasion of Karva Chauth festival.  He was keen to make it convenient for them to perform their ablutions and ensure their safety at the same time.



Swachh Bharat Yuva Sangam: an IEC campaign for Udaipur’s Kotra block

Yuva sangam

6.2 lakh toilets!  That was the toilet construction target for Udaipur in Rajasthan – an enormous feat that has to be achieved in a span of four years.  Not only was the target the highest in the state, majority of the toilets were needed for Kotra Block that is situated farthest from the district headquarters with many challenges in terms of implementation of various schemes.


In the final year of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) Rajasthan campaign, Udaipur has been left with a target of 2 lakh individual household toilets to construct; and nearly 20% of them have to be built in the Kotra Block.

The fact that the Block spreads across an area of 1110 sq.kms and comprises 44 gram panchayats (GPs) poses the largest challenge.  Further, as in other tribal parts of the district, it features a topography that is hilly with scattered households.

Other than aspects associated with its demographics, the region has some unique challenges with regard to bringing about the required behaviour change, given that the tribal region has a defecation system quite unlike others.  Most of the households are located on hills with a lot of open space and distance between them.  This affords them sufficient privacy while defecating in the open.  Under the circumstances, morning follow-up becomes difficult for the block administration, considering that people are not found to be defecting in groups.  Also, creation of demand for toilets is easier said than done.

Exclusive IEC campaign for Kotra Block

It was to address such issues that the block level administration came out with an exclusive IEC campaign for Kotra Block with a view to reaching a huge audience in a short period of time.  The basic idea was to enlist the support of school students for sensitization of the community with regard to sanitation and hygiene and motivating their families to build and use toilets.

School children were an apt choice among stakeholders such as local communities, government bodies, masons, sarpanchs, etc.  Also, considering the age category they belonged to, they would be capable of building a solid foundation of sustainable sanitation related practices in a community.

Further, if children demanded toilets in their homes, a usage-driven toilet demand could be created within a community.  Behaviour change and adoption of sanitation related habits is higher among school students.  Thereby, more households and a larger population can be captured if school children are targeted under the programme.

Swachh Bharat Yuva Sangam (SBYS)

A school level behavioural change programme, Swachh Bharat Yuva Sangam has been designed to motivate and sensitize school children for adoption of sanitation and hygiene related practices.   Done in convergence with the Department of Education of Kotra, Panchayat Samiti administration, district level administration, the programme was launched in secondary and senior secondary government schools of 6 gram panchayats across the Kotra Block.

Activities conducted under SBYS

Swachhata Rally:  The programme began with a Swachhata Rally conducted by school teachers and students where they marched around important public places of the village to spread the message of sanitation.  They carried with them motivational banners, hoardings and raised slogans to promote the idea of sanitation and an open defecation free (ODF) society.

Swachhata Shramdaan:  Voluntary cleaning of public spaces in the village was carried out by school students, teachers and a team from the block administration soon after the rally.  This was intended to inculcate a civic sense among students and the general public as well to keep surroundings clean at all times.

School Triggering:  A soft triggering session followed to create awareness about the importance of safe sanitation practices which includes toilet usage to keep disease at bay; to ensure that hand washing and other sanitation related habits are adopted.   These sessions were conducted by personnel from State Resource Groups (SRG).

Open Q&A Session:  Conducted by the administrative team, the open question and answer session provides students an opportunity to ask questions related to sanitation or otherwise. These sessions have helped enormously in increasing interaction between students and the administration while creating a sense of belief in the government machinery.

Oath Taking:  This is a concluding activity of the programme, where students take the sanitation oath (Shapath-grahan) to keep their households and surroundings clean. This has gone a long way to create a sense of responsibility among students to ensure clean surroundings.

Information Education Communication (IEC) material used

A huge campaign like this required huge IEC material backup to create a lasting impression among the minds of the viewers. Effective IEC material makes a mark in peoples’ minds and makes them absorb and remember the content communicated to them.

Hand-written hoardings and banners:  Students participating in this event were made to design hand-made hoardings and banners with slogans related to Swachh Bharat Mission. These were carried by students during the rally.

Swachh Bharat Mission Caps:  All participants were provided with white caps with ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ logo printed on it.  While creating a sense of ownership and involvement among participants, the caps that were carried back home acted as a SBM memento in homes of students.

Flex Hoardings and Banners: Printed flexes and banners were used during school triggering as visual aids to promote understanding of sanitation concepts.

Audio Material: SBM audio songs were played during students’ rallies featuring both national and district level songs in Hindi.

Expected behavioural change outputs

  • Sensitisation of school children regarding sanitation and hygiene
  • Adoption of toilet usage by students
  • Increased usage of school toilet facilities by students
  • Message of sanitation and toilet construction reaching maximum households of a GP
  • Children driven toilet demand created in the community where children of a community commit themselves to toilet usage and hence create a demand for a toilet in their household at least. With the adoption of toilet usage by children of a household, other members also start using it.

(Inputs from ZSBP-Udaipur)

Udhampur student sets the ball rolling for SBM-G campaign

Many girls in the rural areas face the indignity of not having access to toilets or feminine hygiene products and their disposal facilities.  This has resulted in them missing school during their menstrual periods.  14-year-old Nisha Kumari, a class-10 student from a gram panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district has drawn attention to the cause, her actions leading to the construction of over 550 toilets.

It was during a debate in her school in Kud that Nisha had first heard about the benefits of safe sanitation practices and the need to use toilets.  Having learnt that use of toilets would ensure better health and well being of all people, she was keen to have a toilet in her home, so that she need not go out for her ablutions.

When she approached her parents about a toilet in the house, they listened to her but paid scant attention to her request.  Compelled to draw attention to her point, she went on a hunger strike on 14th and 15th March, 2018.   Both her family and the district authorities took note of the silent protest with a sense of alarm and within a few days had a toilet constructed in her home in Kud Basti village.

Reports of her courageous action spread like wildfire and inspired 35 other students from the Higher Secondary School of Kud who similarly demanded toilets in their homes.  To date, as many as 558 toilets have been constructed in the GP.  The Kud panchayat block comprises of 20 panchayats and 7989 households.

Recently, the child was commended by a Union Minister and was presented with school text books in the presence of district development commissioner Udhampur Ravinder Kumar and other senior officers, reports said.  The district is set to be declared open defecation free in December 2018.

*This story first appeared on e-paper.greaterkashmir.com