Having set a deadline of 31st July, 2017 to be declared open defecation free (ODF), the district administration of Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh has now renewed its efforts to bring about sustainable behaviour change and hasten toilet construction. In this regard, it has assigned one official to one village to monitor all activities pertaining to sanitation. While they convince the community about safe sanitation methods, they would also ensure than toilet construction picks up pace. Whether a Secretary, an ODF champion, a Swachhagrahi, block motivator or coordinator, each of them have adopted those villages where triggering using the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach has already been carried out. "The task in hand is to convert Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) into a movement of people. For this, not only villagers but also everyone involved with the SBM Team should have a sense of ownership for the scheme, and belonging to the people that they work with." explained District Magistrate, Dr. Mannan Akhtar. Toilet coverage in the district before the start of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM) campaign was about 43% but now has risen to 53%. Further, of the 104386 existing toilets, 6815 were defunct and to make the district ODF as many as 170633 toilets had to be built. Currently, 17 gram panchayats of the total 339 GPs in the village are ODF and their verification is underway.
Earlier in the year, large scale triggering exercises using the CLTS approach were carried out in 273 villages. It was a massive campaign that while pointing to the ill effects of open defecation; persuaded people to adopt safe sanitation practices. That it would improve health and wellbeing of the whole community was underlined. It was heartening to note that people were gradually being motivated to build their own toilets, through their own means. It is to these villages that the officials have been assigned to for 15 days beginning on 19th June 2017, to ensure that toilet construction takes place. Their role is to catalyse toilet construction which has been pending and motivate them by holding meetings and organising documentation such as acceptance letter, etc. They would also help the Nigrani Samitis to advise people against open defecation.
"All of those officials have been widely associated with the mission and know how to get things done when it comes to making the village ODF," the DM said. As far as masons are concerned, there are currently about 508 trained masons in the district compared to the requirement of around 4900. Plans are in the pipeline to fill this gap on a war footing.
(Inputs from ZSBP – Hamirpur)