INDIAmay have acquired global
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Nadia - Open Defecation Free district in India

Efforts of Nadia district government to render Nadia open defecation free
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Environment      

Transcripts - Nadia - Open Defecation Free district in India

  • 1. INDIAmay have acquired global acknowledgement as an emerging superpower with the fastest growing economy, an economic giant of Southeast Asia, but it continues to retain the record of being the international capital of open defecation, with 597 million people — as per a World Health Organisation-Unicef report, 2014 – letting go, appropriately enough, in the open. Accounting for 58 per cent of total open defecation, it has long surpassed neighbours like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and so on. As per the report, Bangladesh accounts for only three per cent, Pakistan for 15 per cent and both Sri Lanka and China two per cent, compared to India’s 58 per cent tabulated on a global scale. It also happens to be a country with more households owning a mobile phone than a toilet, according to National Sample Survey Office data. Having apparently understood the dubious significance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rebranded the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and has sought to set matters right. The campaign has gained impetus, gaining the shape of a mass movement and yet, sadly enough, 40 per cent of the people in West Bengal still defecate in the open. Ironically enough, long before the SBA gained momentum, Nadia district in West Bengal initiated a community-based movement under the leadership of PB Salim, district magistrate and collector, to make the place an Open Defecation Free zone by March 2015. “We have already constructed 26 million household latrines through our Sobar Souchagar project and more will be completed by March,” said a district magistrate determined to make his jurisdiction the first ODF-free district in the state. And here is where the district scores over the Indian government’s targeting 2019 as the year to ensure this status. The percentage of open defecation in neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, served as the trigger, said Salim. “The convergence of available resources came as a solution. Convergence is done under three flagship schemes, namely the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan,” he said. Nowhere else in the country is a programme of this nature executed through a self-help group, and this is a unique feature, he added. Labourers are paid through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and there’s a 10-day residential training for masons to hone their skills. Two permanent training facilities have been setup, one each at Nabadwip and Chapra, and more than 1000 masons have passed the grade so far. Each toilet comes for Rs 10,900 in the rural areas, of which Rs 900 is paid by the beneficiary, Rs 5400 is given by the MGNREGA and Rs 4, 600 comes from the SBA. A similar project is in the pipeline for the urban area. “We have identified 12,440 houses in the survey,” said Salim. Urban toilets toilets cost Rs 13,000 apiece, of which Rs 1,000 will be paid by the beneficiary, Rs 2,000 by the municipality and the rest by the Sobar Souchagar project. Following completion, the Pratichi Trust and Unicef will assess the entire project before declaring Nadia an Open Defecation-Free zone. Rural sanitary marts have been playing an important role in this direction, with various NGOs and Self-Help Groups chipping in. These sanitary marts are involved in producing materials needed for the construction of toilets such as concrete pillars, ceramic rural pans, concrete rings, lids, bricks and so on. Siben Bhattacharya, district coordinator, sanitation, said that “in 1996, Unicef wanted to initiate the sanitation process and hence they came up with the idea of an organisation, now known as sanitary marts, which will initiate the process. The government and Unicef together started sanitary marts in 1996, then known as an alternative delivery mechanism”. He added that “initially there was a project that manufactured toilets for Rs 5,500 apiece. It was started in 2002 and meant only for those Above (the) Poverty Line, without any subsidy. In 2012, the NBA provided only Rs 5,500 per latrine, while the district magistrate said anything less than Rs 10,000 wouldn’t be a sustainable model. Besides, he stressed on behavioural change through inter-personal communication as only construction wouldn’t help. It must be made demand-based”. Sakda Sanitary Mart, one of the leading providers in the district, a model unit, if one may add, serves seven gram panchyats in the Krishnanagar I, Hanskhali and Chapra areas. It constructs not only household latrines but even community conveniences, doing the needful for melas and even providing 124 latrines for the recent election in Krishnanagar. The ideal latrine pit should be four feet deep so as not to pollute groundwater required for various purposes such as drinking, cleaning, washing, etc. “The honeycomb system has been put in place to absorb methane gas,” said Bhattacharya. “Sakda Sanitary Mart is using gutkha to absorb methane from the faeces. Every layer has a mechanism that helps the soil absorb the liquid component of feaces and the solid part gets composed in the pit.” He said each of the pits could be employed for five to six years if, on an average, five people use it. Explaining, he said that “an adult excretes 250 grams on a daily basis, of which 80 per cent is liquid. The lack of oxygen causes reaction in the remaining 50 grams of faecal matter. Three-fourth of it is eaten away by germs. Eventually, 12.5 grams of faecal matter is left, which is equal to two and half spoons”. Five rings constitute one pit and each latrine comes with two pits. When one pit gets filled up, the other can be used by lifting just one cover at the Y-junction that connects both the pits and the toilet. Any one person of a household can do it. After one and half year the whole substance will become soil. The superficial structure of a latrine is very simple and can be constructed within a day. A total of 262 workers, including masons, work at Sakda Sanitary Mart and on an average around 86 latrines can be constructed on a monthly basis. The SSM has four production centres and 112 such sanitary marts exist in the whole district. Each gram panchahyat has a minimum of one such sanitary mart. Bhattacharya said that “108,000 latrines were constructed in four months and, on an average, 900 were constructed per day in a bid to reach our goals”. A sense of hygiene is very visible in the villages of Sakda. Siuli Murmu, a resident, said, “We had so many problems earlier. Owners of the land where we used to defecate would always abuse and threaten us.” Now she is happy as she no longer needs to go through such a harrowing experience. Echoing her sentiments, Basudev Biswas said, “There is no dignity in open defecation. These newly constructed toilets have made our lives easier and way better.” Salim did not limit his campaign on to the construction of toilets but made a holistic approach towards the problem of open defecation. He highlighted its harmful effects citing the lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities contributing to “our high neonatal deaths, diseases like diarrhoea”. His approach is reaping results. Chinta Murmu, a resident of a tribal village in Sakda, said, “We don’t even let our children defecate in the open now. We know what health hazards it can cause all of us.” Participation of Self-Help Groups is one aspect that renders this programme unique. One such group is owned and run by Sona Har Bibi. “On an average, 50 rings are constructed per day and two SHG women construct one toilet superstructure per day,” she said. She has 15 women working for her, and they used to make jams and pickles. Her group needs to cater to the needs of 2,087 households and so far they have already served 935. As an essential component of this cleanliness drive, schools of the district play an extremely effective role. “There are 4240 schools here with 805,000 students, all of them effective change agents. Whatever they learn in school can be used to influence the behaviour of their parents at home,” said a teacher. Kamalpur Adarsha Vidyapith For Girls stands out for maintaining spotless cleanliness, maintenance and awareness of health and sanitation. Over 90 per cent of its students come from a low-income group and are first generation learners. Arsenic-free water with eight taps is provided to 618 students and liquid soap and hand santizers are provided as laid out by the Sarva Siksha Mission. The total number of urinals and toilets stand at 13 and eight respectively – one urinal for every 48 students and one toilet for every 77. Ankita Day, a Class V student, expressed pride being a part of the school. “I consider my school to be the best. The cleanliness and hygiene drive has set it apart from other schools. As we grow up with these good habits, we take a step forward towards curbing pollution and creating a healthy world for tomorrow.” “Students are being instructed to follow clean habits at home, too, or else the whole purpose is defeated,” said Kalyani Sarkar, assistant headmistress. Going the extra mile to ensure hygiene, the KAVG has installed a sanitary napkin vending machine and incinerator. Solid Liquid Waste Management is another component of entire programme and the Brahmbhanagar Somoibay Krishi Unayan Samity in Krishnanagar I block runs one such ambitious project wherein the practice is implemented and vermicompost is produced. The entire setup consists of three sections, namely SLWM sector, godown and a horticulture area. The entire set-up spans a large area with 10 workers, on an average, working at the site on any given day. They are supplied by a local self- help group called Aponjon. Akbar Ali Dhabak, the man in charge, explained the process and said, “We collect vegetable waste, save for ginger, garlic, onion, and banana plants, from around 400 houses, water hyacinths from the locality and cowdung is purchased.” The ginger, garlic and onion waste might kill the worms that “we use to produce the fertiliser. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides ruin the quality of the produce and cause substantial harm to land and health. Vermicompost improves quality as well as quantity of cultivation. We grow carrots, capsicum, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc, in the horticulture section. People can easily see the difference. There isn’t any harmful side effect of vermicompost,” he added. Bimal Chakraborty, secretary of the Brahmakumari Skus, said, “We sell our products in Nadia. Vermicompost needs to be used within a month or two of production. Forty per cent moisture is needed for the product to retain its utility and it will give you the best yield.” “The locations of a SLWMS site should be out of a populated area and must be commercially sustainable and, per block, there is one SLWMS. Waste should be recycled and not just thrown away,” said Salim. He added that vermicompost was used by the residents of seven organic villages that came under the project of a Border Area Development Village. Religious organisations and leaders have played an important role in affording momentum to the ODF-free and clean Nadia drive. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, local imams and church heads have all been roped in to played an effective role. Promotion of the Sobar Souchaghar was done during Friday sermons by local imams. Some people have alleged that they were counted as per a base line survey for the toilet project, but Salim said, “Many families fragmented after our survey. We provide toilets per household and not per family.” Plans for bathrooms and tubewells have already been thought about and will be done in the second phase. cyan magenta yellow black cyan magenta yellow black DAYThis is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the intricacies of the dispute... A review 3 1 MARCH 2015 Given the bovine threat, cows should be targeted in the search for cancer causers 4 In a country that boasts more mobile phones per household than a toilet, Nadia in West Bengal is making a credible bid to eradicate open defecation. subhra prasanta das reports A toilet constructed under the Sobar Souchaghar programme. PB Salim, Nadia district magistrate, with women participants. Kamalpur Adarsha Vidyapith’s vocational training room for girls. SSaanniittiisseedd sseennssiittiivviittyy Preparing toilet rings.

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