Women part with precious ornaments for toilets

The symbolism associated with certain pieces of jewellery worn by Indian women is great.  For instance, the mangalsutra is a symbol of marriage, worn by the bride until her husband’s death.  Similarly, anklets, nose pins and rings indicate marital status of a woman and sometimes have some religious significance too, which make them precious and irreplaceable.  It is therefore remarkable that certain women in the rural areas are willing to give up such ornaments to built toilets for their homes, ensuring the pride and dignity of their families.

UntitledTara Devi, wife of Gulab Nishad from Khorabar gram panchayat in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh recently mortgaged her mangalsutra for rupees 4000.  When asked about this drastic action, “Respect is everything for me,” she said, adding that she was aware of the embarrassment experienced by her sons and daughters about defecating in the open.  Seeing others enjoy the convenience of having toilets in their homes, she felt compelled to do something about it.

Tara was fortunate that she subsequently received an incentive of Rs. 12,000 which she received in two installments from the district administration.  It helped her retrieve her mangalsutra.

Untitled2Meanwhile, Saroj Devi from (Vikas Khand Gola) Bewri gram panchayat in Gorakhpur was similarly inspired to sell her earrings to build her Izzat Ghar (House of pride).  She had heard all about safe sanitation practices and the need to use a toilet during the Swachhata campaign carried out on the last World Toilet Day.  The more she thought about it, the more she wanted the facility at her home.  It drove her to sell her earrings.

Saroj Devi too received Rs.12,000 incentive in two installments by the state government.


Collective sanitation behaviour – an outcome of Swachhagrahis’ efforts


The district administration of Giridih in Jharkhand had organised training in CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) for Swachhagrahis.  While this created a large pool of trained motivators, it has also resulted in a fairly positive, quick and visible outcome in collective hygiene behaviour practice.

About 164 Swachhagrahis, Panchayat volunteers and Jal Sahiyas from the blocks of Tisri, Bengabad and Jamua participated in the residential training workshop, organised by the district administration of Giridih with technical assistance of UNICEF between 21st and 24th March, 2018.   The event was ably supported by DDC-Giridih, Mr. Mukund Das and DC-Giridih, Mr. Manoj Kumar.

Similar training in CLTS was given to Swachhagrahis from the blocks of Giridih, Deori, Gandey, Bagodar, Sariya and Birni in June, 2017.


The target for the district to be declared open defecation free (ODF) is June 2018.  However, with sanitation coverage standing at 60% and just 2 of the 13 blocks and 118 of 358 panchayats declared ODF, the district has a long way to go.

In addition, there are as many as 13000 dysfunctional toilets in the entire district which need to be fixed.  As far as behaviour change is concerned, there are certain marginalised areas where the practice of open defecation is socially accepted, posing other challenges at the community level.

The district administration is keen to ensure community participation.  This is because, from past experiences, they had learnt that when communities play an active part in toilet construction, quality of IHHLs is much better in comparison to other areas where participation of communities was missing.  Hence they had to focus on behaviour change activities.  This was imperative because they wanted to make certain that newly constructed toilets would not convert in defunct ones, owing to lack of usage.

CLTS workshop

Under the leadership of the DC and headed by the Executive Engineer, PHED and the participation of all key functionaries of the district SBM team, the workshop was successful in commencing the process of behaviour change in Giridih, on track to becoming ODF and fully sanitized.

During the four days of training, focus was given to utility, principles and practices of CLTS; and the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin in Jharkhand and the rest of India. Discussions that followed involved construction of IHHLs, triggering exercises, follow-up strategy, technology options, attitude and behaviour of CLTS practitioners towards bringing about the required behaviour change.  Every participant was given an opportunity for hands-on experiential learning through triggering in at least 2 villages during the workshop. While triggering was done in the evenings, morning follow up was conducted in the same villages the very next day to make the exercise impactful.

The final day saw sessions on construction of soak pits, pointing out the benefits of such technology among communities of Jharkhand where water scarcity is common during summers.

The methodologies used during the workshop included group exercises, role plays, discussions during the plenary sessions, film shows and hands-on learning in villages.


The training resulted in the formation of a team of 164 trained CLTS practitioners who are presently engaged in pre-triggering, triggering and follow-up in their respective areas.  The participants in their respective Block level teams prepared action plans for implementing CLTS during the next 1-3 months under the guidance of the district SBM team.

This CLTS training has proved to be a good hands-on training and has created positive vibes regarding the implementation of SBM (G) in the District.   The administration is hopeful that the marginalised communities will join together and contributed toward making of a Swachh Giridih.

By ZSBP-Giridih, Akash Ganguly

Inter-district deployment of HR

Inter-district deployment

Every district has its hard spots.  For Sangli it was Jat – a high burden block with more than 50% of the district’s sanitation target; while the remaining nine blocks were fast heading towards becoming open defecation free (ODF).

With 42% households without toilet facility, and only 38 out of total 116 GPs declared ODF in the entire block, Jat posed a real challenge for the district.

To bring the block on par with the rest of the areas, Sangli decided to bring teams from other blocks who had by now achieved their targets.  Experienced human resources, who had already tested success, pumped energy into the campaign and within one and a half months Jat cleared its backlog.

In the process of achieving its goal, Sangli gave birth to a new approach of effective HR deployment to hit the hard spots.

This idea was then replicated to help the districts that were struggling to achieve their targets.

Here’s how it happened.  Ten out of a total of 33 rural districts, which became ODF by March 2017, played a key role in inter-district deployment of HR.

First a 12-member team was drawn from each of the 10 districts.  They were then oriented and placed in the target districts for a period of one month.  For instance, the Sangli team went to Osmanabad block in district Osmanabad, and so on.

All expert teams worked with the local teams in the host districts to refine plans and enhance the quality of their implementation.

However, even while working in the most difficult blocks, they demonstrated success. This collaborative activity accelerated toilet construction in the chosen areas and at the same time boosted the spirits of the host district.

“This was a positive initiative of cross learning and exchange of ideas that has advanced sanitation process in challenging areas,” said Mr. Parmeshwar Halge, District HR Consultant, ZP Parbhani.

(From UNICEF Maharashtra)

In Samastipur, women are leaders in toilet construction


Cleanliness across all community spaces is just as important as cleanliness of individuals and families.   Total sanitation involves having access to clean and safe toilets, keeping water sources clean, and disposing of garbage safely.  Any community effort to improve sanitation must help people overcome challenges they face in their daily lives.

That said, women in Samastipur district of Bihar have come forward to dig pits towards making toilets so that their families have access to sanitation facilities.   In many cases, they have fought against various odds – such as keeping up with their regular routine work of household chores, child care, and work outside their homes; sometimes even without the cooperation of their spouses – to construct toilets.  In this regard, they have emerged as leaders in constructing toilets in their respective villages.

In many cases, considering that women are often the primary care givers of children and their homes, they recognize and spot sanitation and water issues that men do not even see.  They understand the cause and effect relationship, aware of the link between unsafe sanitation and disease.  That’s why they are regarded as the backbone of the family and the society.

In Samastipur, women have taken sanitation oaths, administered by the district and block administration, and are striving towards safeguarding the dignity and respect of their families.  All this they do, despite taboos and brutalities of everyday life they face.

In addition, the empowered women have not only motivated themselves but also others in their community, helping change their mindset and convincing them to build and use toilets.  They have emerged as change makers with courage, determination and power to change the society.

Their role in making the district open defecation free (ODF) and their contribution to the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin cannot be undermined.

By Satyaki, ZSBP-Samastipur

Now 8 circles around the sacred fire


Rajanti Devi and Shivdhari Singh walked eight times around the sacred fire during their marriage ceremony, reciting eight vows rather than the normal seven.  The eighth vow was made in the name of Swachhta with the bridegroom, promising to ensure that a toilet is built in his home within 3-4 days before taking his new bride home.

As many as 155 couples were married during a mass wedding organized in the gram panchayat of Devri in Chitrangi block of Singrauli district in Madhya Pradesh on 14th May, 2018, according to ZSBP-Singrauli, Rahul Saini.

Asked about the new vow, Rajanti Devi said that she was delighted that the day has come when the pride and dignity of women is given importance, rather than some meaningless materialist objects.  The other seven vows pertained to lifelong commitment, devotion, mutual respect, etc.

While the Swachhata vow was specifically meant for grooms whose homes had no toilets, it also applied to those who had toilets, where the husbands made a vow to maintain the facilities.  It was indeed a joyous occasion to see the shy couples taking the last vow, smiles beaming from their faces.

Commenting on the eight steps, District Collector-Singrauli, Mr. Anurag Chaudhary said this type of innovative idea will not only boost the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign but also make sure that people will give due priority to sanitation during all occasions.

The ceremony was organized and paid for by the district and block administration, as a part of the Mukhya Mantri Kanya Vivah Yojna (Chief Minister Kanya Marriage Scheme) – a social welfare programme, implemented by the State Government of Madhya Pradesh.  Under the scheme that was started in 2006, financial aid and utility gift items are given to the newly-wedded couples during a group marriage, the programme particularly beneficial to widows and divorcees.

While the purpose of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to poor, needy and destitute families for marrying off their daughters / widows / divorcees, the assistance is provided only in mass marriages with the condition that the girl has attained legal age of marriage.

It is common for many impoverished to take loans to meet the cost of the wedding expenses and they often fall prey to money lenders.  The Scheme therefore curbs unnecessary expenditure on weddings while benefitting all sections of the society.  In this ceremony too,   marriages of Hindu and Muslim couples were solemnized at the same event.

That the group wedding ceremony was used as a platform to propagate the Swachh Bharat Mission message is commendable.  Ahead of the event, officials of district administration spoke to the organizers and the priests, requesting them to include the new Swachhta vow.

Surprisingly, the priests did not hesitate to include the same.  The ceremony was attended by the Vice President of the Zila Panchayat, President of the Block, local MLA and others.  It ended with the entire gathering taking the Swachhta Oath.

In June 2017, sanitation coverage in Singrauli was just 28%.  Over the last year, the sanitation movement has accelerated, increasing sanitation coverage to 49.17% as on date.  As many as 35,000 toilets were built during this period.  The tribal district has a target to become open defecation free by October 2, 2018.

MHM campaign in 15 schools of Paschim Singhbhum

West SinghbhumMenstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign that began with the installation of incinerators in five schools of Paschim (West) Singhbhum district of Jharkhand in February 2018, has now been extended to 15 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas across the district.

As Paschim Singhbhum district moves towards its ODF (open defecation free) target date, the district’s SBM-G (Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin) Champaign has diverted its attention to ODF plus activities; and in this case – Menstrual Hygiene Management.

The MHM movement that started in February with the installation of incinerators in 5 schools received a five star rating in ‘Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar’.   However, the momentum created by that activity was inadequate.  Hence, after a review meeting with the District Collector, Paschim Singbhum there was mutual consensus on creating a small drive for MHM across the district.  This resulted in the MHM campaign that was held between 24th April and 5th May, 2018.

According to ZSBP-West Singhbhum, Mrinalini Singh, the first phase of the campaign was limited to 15 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas.  In this regard, the SBM team travelled to all the Kasturba schools in the district during which they oriented girls in using incinerators and the importance of safe disposal of used sanitary napkins; also informing them about technical details.

West Singhbhum2An interactive session about MHM followed which included a discussion on personal hygiene, use of absorbents and safe disposal of used absorbents.

“We shared our insights with the students and discussed their knowledge on menstruation; while clearing doubts on menstrual cycle.  We received a very positive response from them.  They were happy to discuss the issues of women’s health which they never freely discuss at home,” Singh said.

The workshop at each school was followed by the screening of ‘Padman’ the movie.  With the absence of functional movie theatres, the SBM-G team collaborated with Picture Time cinemas whch installed portable theatres with support of the school administration.  The trucks carrying equipment travelled to all those schools across the district and showcased ‘Padman’ in 15 Kasturba schools and also at the Mahila College in Chaibasa town.

The campaign is ongoing and the district administration is hopeful that the drive creates a positive impact on young girls who are on the verge of adulthood, preparing them to be more confident on matters pertaining to their natural biology.

(Source: SBM-G team & ZSBP Paschim Singbhum)

Selfie with pride for health

Selfie with pride

After attaining almost one-third sanitation coverage in a speedy manner, the sanitation campaign in Vasmat block, in Hingoli district of Aurangabad division, became sluggish.  In order to give it momentum, and also to bring home the urgency of implementation, ZP CEO Mr. Hanmanlu Tummod, introduced the idea of building ’20,000 toilets in 200 hours’.

Ahead of the campaign launch, both district and block teams made visits to various villages to help households decide location of their toilets and keep all supplies and labourers ready for the day.

The campaign that appealed to 19,984 households to construct toilets and to post a selfie with it – aroused curiosity in villagers as intended.  In a way, it was a highlight of the campaign, as there were many selfie with toilet posts.

The campaign was launched on 5 June 2017 with proper back-end preparations: a team of 1000 district and block level functionaries was duly oriented about the campaign goal.  There was intensive ground level pre-planning, and monitoring, while 7000 masons and laborers and 50 material suppliers were informed and made available.

Prior to the campaign, only 38 out of 119 GPs in Vasmat were declared ODF.  Post the campaign sanitation coverage increased by 20.67%; from 51.40% to 72.06%.

The construction could not reach the 20000 mark.  However, as many as 8500 new toilet units were built during the campaign period and seven GPs attained complete coverage.

“’Selfie for health’ sanitation campaign certainly made headway in Vasmat block.  I appreciate the spirit of the block teams and I hope other blocks will follow their path,” said Mr. Hanmanlu Tummod, CEO ZP Hingoli.

(From UNICEF Maharashtra)