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A visit to Darrang, Assam

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Tata Trusts travelled to Darrang to meet with the entire SBM team of Darrang district and two preraks David & Hargobinda who have been instrumental in driving the course of SBM in their districts and have been able to get all the stakeholders of SBM to work together. The department works in coordination with various NGOs which build toilets for the villagers.

The Assam model works differently compared to other regions in India as the people want toilets and use them once built. BCC activities are accordingly done. They are habituated to using toilets and before each household was given a toilet, they used ‘kachha’ / make shift toilets in their areas. The 2-3 villages visited in the district were observed to be exceptionally clean – there was proper disposal of solid waste and each village took pride in keeping their surroundings clean. Although they did make a request to have piped water inside their households. Currently they have handpumps and wells from which they get their water supply. The water has a higher arsenic content and they use a regular filter to treat the water before drinking.

They use traditional folk arts and dance forms to mobilize communities and the team has managed to hire local groups specific to the Darrang community and culture for this which has made a remarkable difference in their propaganda. There is no shortage of water, but some of the areas are flood prone, so they have had to get creative in building different toilets. The quality of construction is superior and maintenance is being done time to time by the households themselves.