Nearly 3000 students participate in twin pit toilet formation


As many as 2850 rural students from various schools and colleges of Nagarkurnool district of Telangana participated in a massive twin pit toilet model formation at the district headquarters’ Zilla Parishad High School on 2nd February, 2018.

The purpose of the event was to extensively publicise the twin pit toilet model and its benefits through media channels.  It was also intended to make students change agents so they can demand the facility at their homes.  The event facilitated the making of a video clip that could be shared on social media to spread awareness among the rural folk.

Initiated by Sharath Babu K. (Zilla Swachh Bharat Prerak, Nagarkurnool); participants included 1150 students from Zilla Parishad High School B; 650 students from Zilla Parishad High School G; 800 students from Government High School; and 250 students from Government Girls Junior College.

In the run up to the event, considerable planning went into the process of making arrangements.  A matter of concern was that while the sanitation coverage for the rest of the state had crossed 80%, the coverage of Nagarkurnool was barely 47%.  The ZSBP who joined just two months earlier realized that the ODF campaign needed to gather pace, not only to catch up with the rest of the state but also to make toilets accessible to all communities.  Also, the team identified that although various campaigns were carried out earlier; there was lack of awareness with regard to the twin pit toilet model, as advocated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

They figured that a human chain kind of formation of a twin pit would provide the necessary awareness, while involving departments such as education that will provide the necessary human power for such an exercise; and District public relation officer to ensure media coverage.

Thereafter, five physical education teachers were deployed to support the programme – their task comprising of marking the toilet map, arrangement of children’s formation, and ensuring that all children attended the awareness event and returned to their respective schools and colleges.  The twin pit toilet marking measuring 100X100 feet was made ready a day before the event.

As far as the programme schedule was concerned, students left their schools at 9.30 am and formed the toilet model by 10 am.  The District Collector arrived at the venue at 10.20 am to flag off the event and by 10.40 am the formation dispersed.  The entire formation process was filmed by a drone camera.

The programme continued with key messages delivered by the DC and ZSBP to the children, parents and the community that had gathered there.  Several short SBM movies and presentations on fecal oral transmission and ill effects of open defecation were made, emphasizing the importance of using toilets.  The DC also urged students to demand toilets from their parents.  Students, he believes are key change agents in bringing about behavior change in their families and the communities at large.  In turn students assured the DC of working towards making the district ODF.

A slogan competition held earlier gave rise to new catchy slogans that were chanted during the formation.



Behaviour change, empowerment seen in women of Buldhana

Ever since the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) was launched, across the villages of India, women were first to adopt safe sanitation and hygiene practices.  In many cases, they demonstrated extraordinary courage and took risks to provide sanitation access to their families; empowering themselves in the process.  Here are two instances of women for whom a toilet assumed priority over other needs:

Shaheendi of Kinhola Village

ShaheendiA resident of Kinhola village in Chikhali Block of Buldhana District in Maharashtra, Shaheendi earned her living by working as a labourer.  Her whole family lived on her income. When she learnt about the need to use a toilet for the health and well being of the whole family, she was very determined to build a toilet.  Not sure how to go about it, but having seen other toilet pits being dug; she chose to dig the toilet pit herself.  Thereafter, she needed money to buy the construction material and accessories.  Having no other resources, she sold some pieces of jewellery, even her mangalsutra – the sacred ornament worn by married women in India.  For her determination and courage, the district administration recently felicitated her at a function held at the district headquarters.

Jyoti Bhika Kshirsagar of Pimpri Gawali Village

Jyoti BhikaJyoti Bhika Kshirsagar lived with her family in Pimpri Gawali Village of Motala Block in Buldhana district of Maharashtra.  Her husband was a mason, involved in construction of toilets as a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission.  Having seen her husband at work, Jyoti was inspired to learn the trade.  Going beyond cooking and child care, she now works alongside her husband in a male dominated profession.  At ease while performing her duties, the woman now feels economically empowered.

(Inputs: ZSBP-Buldhana, Maharashtra)

Halamala – the untold story

Middle men or agents were the bane of the sanitation story of Kishanganj district in Bihar.  Taking hefty commissions for any job, they constructed poor quality toilets that quickly became dysfunctional, causing people to resume defecating in the open.  In the process, they wiped out the accounts of beneficiaries who received incentive money from the government for building toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G).

In search of a lasting solution to the issue in the district situated in the top most fringe of the state, sharing borders with West Bengal, Nepal and Bangladesh, the district administration came up with a pilot project in Halamala Panchayat of Kishanganj Block.  Under this project headed by District Magistrate (DM), Shri Pankaj Dixit and co-headed by Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC), Shri Yashpal Meena, people were galvanised into construction of their own toilets.

Halamala panchayat is one of the most cyclone and flood prone areas of the district and people were still recovering from the devastation caused by the 2017 floods. Despite their grievances, people gave priority to sanitation and constructed toilets for their own use.  In fact, their efforts not only accelerated construction of individual household toilets but also improved sanitation of the entire village; making the entire panchayat Open Defecation Free (ODF) within a month.

In doing so, Halamala has emerged as a beacon for the entire district with inspiring activities such as digging of 970 pits in a single day throughout the panchayat; proving that nothing is impossible if the community is willing.  During that campaign, various district officials along with the DM and DDC participated in digging pits to ensure that the target was achieved.  More than anything else, the exercise proved that such work could be done without the involvement of contractors.  All it required was to induce behaviour change among people and motivate them to view sanitation and cleanliness as their first priority.

During the execution of the project, the district officials came across some amazing incidents involving individuals who having understood the importance of cleanliness went the extra mile to achieve total sanitation in their surroundings.

Individuals who went the extra mile:

Sibbulal Das and Rajo Devi (Ward No. 4)

ShibulalThe couple arranged money for toilet construction by selling their goat. “Health of our child is more important,” they said, when asked the reason for such an action.  Having understood the benefits of using a toilet, they did not want their child to become ill by living in an unhygienic environment.

Zaritun Nisha (Ward No. 11)

Zaritun NishaWhen the district officials were surveying the village, they came across Zaritun Nisha who had neither husband nor children and lived alone.  She worked in a field, earning about Rs.250 per day.  To build a toilet, she saved some of her earnings and took a loan from Jeevika to get her toilet built without the help of a contractor.  Thereafter, she motivated the entire ward to do likewise.

Jarekha Khatoon (Ward No. 11)

Jarekha KhatoonThis woman was obviously having problems with regard to constructing a toilet when we met her on 25th December.  The district team was willing to help her by offering to donate money.  However, Jarekhaji declined and told them to return a week later and she would have a toilet ready.  Not entirely sure she meant it, the officials returned there after seven days and were pleasantly surprised to see the lady welcome them with a proud smile and a newly constructed toilet at her home.

Aayesha Bibi (Ward No. 4)

Ayesha BibiShe can be considered the iron lady of the panchayat, considering she sought work as a labourer at a jute making factory for the sole purpose of making enough money to build a toilet.  Cleaning jute is a tough task, requiring a lot of strength.  She did this because she did not want her granddaughter to defecate in the open and be subjected to being spotted upon by passers-by.

Anjara Khatoon (Ward No. 3)

Anjara KhatoonWhen Anjara, a differently abled girl heard about toilets and the need to use them, she took up the matter with her parents, stubbornly insisting that it was high time they stopped defecating in the open.  Her father brought up the issue of finance, saying that they did not have enough money.  But owing to the daughter’s persistence, they managed to gather enough to build a toilet, which incidentally was the first in the entire ward.

Stories such as these were many in this panchayat.  Having understood the importance of sanitation and hygiene many made extra efforts and took up construction of the toilet as part of their daily routine.   The people of this panchayat remain a source of inspiration for the district team.

By Gopendra Yadav, Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak, Kishanganj

Punjab has 7 stages of ODF Verification

Under ‘Mission Swachh and Swasth Punjab’ the northern state has accorded paramount importance to the process of ODF (open defecation free) verification by putting in place a seven stage system to monitor and ensure sustainability of the ODF status.

Stage 1: ODF Declaration

In the first stage of the verification process, the Gram Panchayat will pass a resolution to declare itself as ODF, once it is satisfied that they have successfully achieved ODF status.  The district administration has in place a specific process and prescribed formats for ODF declaration.

Stage 2: 21-Day Review/ Assessment Process

The second stage of the verification Process would entail a 21-day long follow up for review and assessment of the Gram Panchayat’s ODF status. This three-pronged approach consists of (i) Nigrani; (ii) Muniyadi; and (iii) tele-calling.  In this too, prescribed processes and formats that need to be adopted are provided.

Stage 3: Inter Block Cross Verification

The third stage of the verification process will be carried out after about one month and before three months of the date of declaration of ODF status of the village.   Considering it is the first physical verification stage, it will involve an inter block cross verification at the district level to verify the ODF status. Process of selecting and engaging team as well as formats to be used for survey and reporting are provided.

Stage 4:  Sustainability Verification

This will be done six months after the first verification of the Gram Panchayat.  Process of sustainability verification is outlined.

Stage 5: Media Advertisement

Once all villages in a district are declared as ODF, the district administration will advertise that all villages in district have been declared ODF.  At this point, any citizen can make observations or complaints to the administration before a given date.  The recommended process and sample advertisement texts are given.

Stage 6: Random Verification by Eminent Personalities

After the media advertisement, and before declaring the district ODF, a team of eminent personalities will undertake visits to random villages to be sure about the sustenance of ODF status. Process for the same is stipulated.

Stage 7: State Level Independent Verification

This will be done on an annual basis covering all districts. It will provide an independent analysis of ODF outcomes based on a systematic sample study.

(Inputs from Mission Director-Punjab)

Osmanabad tackles fund flow problems with Cash Card

cash card

The district of Osmanabad in Maharashtra has carried out many initiatives as a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign to include ‘Mission 90 days’ and ‘Mission Nirmal Osmanabad’ during which approximately 85,000 toilets were constructed across the district during a 4-month period.  However, as many as 4500 to 5000 toilets were still required to make the district open defecation free (ODF).  They were meant for tribal communities, farmers and the most impoverished, the hardest to achieve.

These families earned their living through daily wages of about Rs.200-300 and were unable to pay Rs.12,000 for their toilets.  Understandably, their issues were genuine, given that labour was seasonal and not always available.  Further, procuring construction materials and commencing construction was easier said than done, particularly during peak farming season.

To accelerate toilet construction, District Programme Manager, Mr. Ramakant Gaikwad came up with the idea of ‘Cash Card’ during a meeting held by the CEO, Dr. Sanjay Kolte to take forward the SBM campaign.  The bank itself was involved in the Cash Card system, eliminating the misuse of incentive money that is paid to beneficiaries.

Procedure for Cash Card

  1. To begin with, ‘Cash Card’ forms are distributed to beneficiaries by Gram Sevak after surveying the GP to know the number of people ready for constructing of toilets through the scheme.
  2. Two days later, the Gram Sevak collects the filled up forms along with KYC documents.
  3. These forms are attested by the Gram Sevak and the BDO (block development officer) after taking consent of the beneficiary.
  4. The forms are then submitted to a particular bank by the BDO (IDBI, ICICI, etc).
  5. In this process, the BDO’s account of SBM will act as a corporate account, while the block too will have a Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) account in the same bank.
  6. In the meantime, local or non-local supplier/suppliers are selected for the construction work, the activity carried out in parallel with the procedure of ‘Cash Card’.
  7. Anyone can be chosen as a supplier until and unless he or she is ready to do all the activities ranging from making the material and labor available to constructing the toilet. In Osmanabad, both political leaders and non-local suppliers were used to speed up the process.
  8. Suppliers may charge a nominal fee as registration fees from each beneficiary to manage transportation and other charges.
  9. While activities such as collection of forms from the bank, attesting them, resubmitting them to the bank are in progress, the actual construction work on the field goes on.
  10. Soon as forms are submitted to the bank, the bank opens those many temporary accounts as many beneficiaries would have applied for this scheme. The list of names of beneficiaries along with their account numbers will be sent to the BDO for confirmation.
  11. After confirmation from BDO, the bank transfers money to those accounts from the block’s SBM account.
  12. Thereafter, the bank makes Cash Cards for all those beneficiaries and hands over the ‘Cash Cards’ to BDO.
  13. While this is happening, one GP level officer checks the quality of toilets constructed by the appointed supplier.
  14. After confirmation from the officer, BDO hands over the ‘Cash Cards’ to the suppliers.
  15. Suppliers can withdraw money by swiping the ‘Cash Cards’ just like ATM cards.

Benefits of Cash Card Scheme

  • The biggest benefit of using this scheme is that funds flow problems can be tackled
  • As the bank charges Rs. 150 per cash card and those charges have to be paid by the suppliers, banks are cooperative as far as this scheme is concerned
  • ‘Cash Cards’ can be swiped only once and hence are not reusable. This eliminates any possibility of misuse of ‘Cash Card’
  • Construction of toilets on mass scale ensures that suppliers benefit
  • Reduced paper work for the district
  • Also as the liability is with the BDO and involvement of bank makes the system transparent, corruption is zero

By Pankaj Jadhav, ZSBP-Osmanabad

Women’s Squad of Osmanabad ensures ODF sustainability

women's squad

One of the most successful initiatives of the Osmanabad ODF (open defecation free) campaign was the Mission 90 days programme.  During the planning of this programme in Yashwantao chavan Hall on 2nd July, 2017, cluster wise teams were being formed for each zila panchayat.  All officials were being allotted to clusters randomly, using chits.  One of the names that were read out was that of Mrs. Kumbhar, a class 1 officer who was Deputy Education Officer (primary).  When this name came up, Ex-CEO Anand Rayate paused and wondered aloud.  How would a woman work in the field if she is allotted a cluster in a block that is located far from the district office?  No one seemed to have an answer.  So the team decided to drop her name and all other names of women from this exercise.

No sooner was the decision made than 4-5 women went to the DWSM cell where the CEO and other officials were seated and enquired as to why their names were left out of the teams.  Asserting that they were no lesser than men among the ZP staff, they appealed to the CEO to allow them to join the war against open defecation.

That’s how the Women’s special squad of Osmanabad was formed with the name ‘Mahila Bharari Pakshak.’

Working of the special squad

The district has several dedicated WhatsApp groups for SBM; the staff of the ZP, DWSM, HODs, CEO, Additional CEO and political members forming the team.  Very often problems pertaining to – not using toilets, objection from men, open defecation on farms, etc., are posted on the group.  At times, such problems are also brought to the notice of the CEO through letters.

When the women’s squad that comprises of 18 women (from different departments such as health and education) learns of the problems, they set aside specific days to go over to the specific gram panchayat and address the problems mentioned.  They are also called the Good Morning Action Squad.  They often impose fines, not just on women but also on men who defecate in the open.

Once they advise and convince people who were seen answering nature’s call outdoors, they provide technical information about toilets and emphasize the importance of using them.

Considering that a woman is able to understand another woman better, their activities have seen a lot of success – in terms of building and using toilets.  They also visit all households and motivate them about adopting safe sanitation practices.  While the representative from the health department motivates people from the health point of view, a woman from the education department motivates them from the point of view of children and so on.

In addition, they meet anganwadi and school children and motivate them to use toilets; also taking help of women from SHGs.

To date, the women’s special squad has visited 10 GPs in Osmanabad block, 3 in Washi block, 6 in Tuljapur block around 13 times.  While they have come across over 1000 people relieving themselves outdoors even when they had toilets at home, they have collected fines to the tune of 3.25 lakhs.  The fine so collected is used to build toilets of the gram panchayat.

(Inputs from ZSBP-Osmanabad)

Nandan village shows the way in development

Nandan  Nandan2

Not long ago, the village of Nandan in Buxar district of Bihar was a typical agricultural village with poor infrastructure and limited access to electricity and clean water.  In the absence of a drainage system, stagnant water and garbage strewn about everywhere were a common sight, even as people lacked basic sanitation facilities.

In fact, according to district officials, heaps of garbage were visible even from a distance, before entering the village.  The unmistakable odour of decaying garbage was so powerful that people would hesitate to pass by; while the residents of homes near them found it very offensive.

Although people wanted to address the persisting problem, they were unsure how they should go about it; until the District Magistrate of Buxar, Mr. Arbind Kumar Verma stepped in.  With the support of the District Water and Sanitation Committee (DWSC), he held consultation meetings that saw the participation of local residents, Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI), block officials and other stakeholders.

Waste Stabilization Pond System

The district administration then came out with a plan to manage liquid waste and an innovative approach to convert the existing informal waste landfill into a beautiful green pond – waste stabilization pond system (WSPS).   This converted pond is linked to the waste water system of 250 households in the neighbourhood and the waste water is cleaned by the duck weed planted in the pond.

Further, the pond was deepened, limed and high bunds constructed around it; while flowering plants grown on the periphery improved the appearance.  In order to develop pond ecology, Self Help Groups (Jeevika) started duck rearing which provided an alternative source of livelihood for them.  Ducks clear the water by feeding on decayed matter, thereby promoting better decomposition of organic matter.  Also, the inter-household drainage connection was unlocked through strengthening drainage lines.

Nandan3However, streamlining the outlet remained a challenge.  To address this, it was decided to restructure the drainage line to a common point and then allow it to drain towards the pond. The idea worked and improved water levels of pond.  As for households that were not connected to the pond, they were linked with drainage lines diverted to soak pits (measuring 1m diameter and 1m depth). Soak pits helped to absorb liquid household waste, preventing stagnation.

24X7 water supply

Thereafter, under Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal Yojana– 24X7 water supply pipeline connectivity was provided to 123 households from a common point of discharge of a capacity of 10,000 liters. The physical problem of water distribution was critical and if water collection was not made on time, there could be chance of the pump conking out.  So the district administration again came out with a unique model for functioning of the water pump on a daily basis. (The Model Name was MISSED CALL). It was devised to connect the power supply through phone calls (While four missed-calls indicated a signal for the pump to start; two missed calls called for the pump to stop).  The panchayat president was asked to take responsibility for its management. Phone calls connected with a chip through the devise regulated the ON/OFF mechanism. This system effectively sent alert signals to villagers to collect water from their household taps.

When the Chief Minister of Bihar, Sri Nitish Kumar visited the village on 12th January, 2018 as a part of ‘Samikchha Yatra,’ to review the progress of development at grass-root level, he was impressed with the efforts of the district administration. The demonstrable models of systematic drainage system, solid and liquid waste management and potable drinking water facility come under the framework of Saat Nischaya Yojana (7-fold pledge of the state government) and can be replicated in other villages too.  He also suggested that the waste water from the pond could be used to irrigate nearby farms.

(Input from Mr. Anil Kumar, District Consultant IEC, Buxar Ratnish Verma, State SLWM Consultant, LSBA Tarun Ranjan, State IEC Consultant, LSBA)