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A resourceful solution
It didn’t take Jeevan Roy, 26, long to figure out the reasons for the sluggish pace of building toilets in homes of Karnataka’s rural Dharwad. Low awareness about the enabling nature of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and the support assistance they could benefit from were on top of the list. “Villagers said that they wanted toilets. But they were not aware of the process for availing financial assistance,” he recalls. For the newly minted civil engineer from the National Institute ofEngineering in Mysore, this was exactly the kind of problem he had been looking to solve. A brief stint with L&T in Mumbai was enough to steer him towards his deeper interest in issues such as sanitation and social infrastructure. While studying for a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Jeevan learned about Tata Trusts’ prerak model for the Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak (ZSBP) programme. “Knowing how big the problem of poor sanitation in India was, this was an opportunity to work at the grassroots level and make a difference,” he says. Soon after joining as a prerak for the Dharwad area in May 2017, he decided that mobilising support for funds to build toilets would be his primary goal, in addition to awareness-building activities. This would be done using the processes and tools that have been proven most effective in community based interventions. “We followed the IEC (information, education and communication) and the BCC (behavioural communication change) models. Under the Gram Vastavya programme, we conducted jatas (walks in the village) to understand their problems, discuss their issues and screen movies related to construction of toilets. People who had built toilets and were using them were asked to describe their experiences,” says Jeevan.
The team began with a PRA (participatory rural appraisal), a visual approach for driving inclusive change. A rough map of the villages was drawn up, and the areas where people defecate in the open were marked with yellow powder. The villagers soon realised that nearly the whole map was covered with yellow powder, denoting human excreta. The SBM team undertook a Swacchata Siddhi Yatra with the CEO of the Zila Panchayat, Dharwad, walking for more than 20 km over three days to inform and sensitise people about the SBM. The team stayed overnight with the villagers, cooked food and ate with them. The yatra covered nine villages of Navalgund Taluka and touched 35,000 people. This struck a chord with the villagers, and their trust in the mission grew. But funds continued to be a problem. Jeevan tackled this issue by helping secure bank tie-ups to facilitate loans to those ready to build toilets. This had a significant impact. Word spread and gradually more people came forward to construct toilets in their homes. There was yet another challenge — villages did not have enough labourers and masons to build toilets on such a large scale. Jeevan reached out to youth volunteers in nearby NSS (National Service Scheme) camps for help. Around 2,500 student volunteers from NSS camps were roped in to help build 10,000 toilets in three blocks — Dharwad, Hubli and Navalgund. The students then fanned out in groups of three, each with a mason and a helper. Seeing the students working hard inspired the residents and they, in turn, convinced others and helped them build toilets in their homes. These initiatives not only helped improve overall sanitation levels in the villages, they have also brought the district administration closer to the people. Dharwad exemplifies how the partnership of Tata Trusts with the district administration through the ZSBP preraks is powering the SBM to achieve its target of a cleaner India."