State of Sanitation in India
Even though the Government of India has been promoting construction of toilets by providing subsidy since decades, the nation is home to more than 597 million people belonging to more than 37 million households (as per WHO-UNICEF report 2014) who defecate out in the open either because they do not have a toilet at home or because they are used to defecating out in the open since decades. Though data is unavailable, many visits to these households and discussions with community also led to the observation that most of these households also lack bathrooms, thereby forcing people to use public sources of water like ponds, rivers etc. for taking bath, washing clothes etc. The negative impact of inadequate sanitary and hygienic practices on health, nutrition, economy and safety, especially on women and adolescent girls, are well known.
Many studies highlight various reasons for non-construction, poor maintenance and low usage of toilets in rural areas. Few of these are delay in sanction process and payment of bills by concerned authorities, non-selection of eligible beneficiaries, lack of running water supply, age-old practice of open defecation without knowledge of impact on quality of life etc.
Women led Community Institution
The SHG movement is growing stronger in India with Government of India supporting the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) with various benefits and entitlements. This provides an opportunity to organize rural masses, especially the women, to lay grounds for strong social movement by involving the community. Our organization, Paul (pronounced as pā'ūla or paaoola), began with the process of making rural development intervention more participatory, people centric and demand driven by organizing rural women to form strong community institutions and empowering them through its interventions for WASH. Paul has been aiming to “Work on developing synergy among Governmental, Non- Governmental agencies and Community to design & implement sustainable demand driven intervention”.
Paul will help promote behavioral changes that can in turn increase adherence to best practices in the family and within the community, and create demand for better uptake of government services for sanitation. Paul will encourage and strengthen federations of SHGs of rural women to enable them to channelize their collective strength to access information, services and entitlements and build social capital to adopt improved sanitation and hygiene practices and achieve sustainable Open Defecation Free (ODF) status for the Gram Panchayats (GP).
Paul’s Community Intervention Model
Paul will capacitate the Federation to mobilize the entire community by using strategic behaviour change communications to resolute against Open Defecation, take up bulk procurement of materials and construction of new toilets cum bathroom in the entire village and converge with government for constructing community based and community managed water supply. This will also cover toilets which need repair & toilets which got sanctioned in earlier schemes but were not completed. The district administration will be providing advance funds partially to the account of Federation for supporting the construction of toilets. The Federation will establish a WASH committee comprising of atleast 5-7 members from different sections of the community who will handle the funds for procurement and payment. The committee will manage books of account which is open for public scrutiny to ensure transparency. The Federation will also form three sub-committees namely the mobilization/vigilance committee, the Procurement committee and the construction committee comprising of 5-7 community members. These committees will include active individuals like Gram Panchayat and ward leaders, presidents of SHGs and Federation, Anganwadi worker, ASHA worker etc. The Procurement committee will be provided with various technological options to choose from and bring down cost of raw material by bulk procurement. Community based Vigilance Committee will monitor the progress of construction and create peer pressure to ensure usage. The construction committee will review the work of masons and follow up with households for timely construction of quality toilets. The sub-committees will report to the WASH committee and timely update about the progress of entire project in their area. The capacity building of each of these committee and sub-committees will be done by Paul to achieve the said objectives. Paul also aims to work with community and district administration post achieving ODF status to ensure water supply for sustainable sanitation
Paul will design its Behaviour Change and Communication (BCC) strategy based on local situation by adopting locally accepted methods and adding innovation to those. Awareness will be spread using interpersonal and intrapersonal methods like traditional folk art, modern modes of communication, weekly discussion in SHGs etc. Paul also believes that children can act as a strong agent of change; hence, Paul will pilot WASH interventions in schools as a part of its BCC strategy. The children will be engaged in different joyful activities and games centered on WASH themes to make them aware of healthy WASH habits and ensure the uptake of the same. These children will then act as a catalyst in promoting safe WASH practices in their households and the community. The learning from the pilot will then be used for advocacy and fund raising to up scale the WASH in Schools model.
Also, in pilot schools, Paul will approach and orient the teachers on importance of WASH in Schools. Specific activities which involve children in joyful manner will be used to sensitize children and raise awareness. We will also encourage the schools to select 2-3 active children per class to form a “Child Cabinet” and mentor these children as “Sanitation captains” so that they monitor that their batch mates are using toilets and washing hands before and after eating Mid Day Meal and promote peer-to-peer learning of good practices. A list of tentative activities we plan to carry out in schools are as following:
- Daily pledge/ jingle on WASH for daily morning school assembly in local language
- Different 4-5 simple WASH theme group games which can be played daily in school
- Video shows maybe once/ twice a month
- Formation and orientation of Child Cabinet
- Rally, soap drives, demonstration, play in community
- WASH survey by school children
- Competition among schools who show better performance on WASH
- Flexes/ paintings on walls near toilets and hand washing stations will require budget.
- Establishing incinerators in schools having adolescent girls and proving MHM sessions
- Inviting parents once a month to discuss on WASH issues and raise awareness
In case the school does not have toilets, we will try to with district administration and CSR partners to ensure sanitation facility in schools.