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Emphasizing Health, Dignity, Privacy and Education: World Toilet Day 2016

Lack of toilets at schools lead to higher dropout among girls once they reach puberty. Diarrhoea and other diseases caused by lack of sanitation kill more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Until the inclusion of Goal 6 which calls for an end of open defecation and adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, toilets were a policy dark subject. Keeping the severity of open defecation at hand, World Toilet Day is observed annually on 19th November as a day for action to address the sanitation crisis. 

 

Lack of proper sanitation in India continues to pose a serious threat to the health of the 774 million Indians. They do not have access to basic toilets and thousands children die every year because of diseases transmitted through human waste. Since the inception of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), the government of India has worked feverishly alongside community groups, NGOs, and development partners to end the scourge of open defecation and to ensure equal access to sanitation and hygiene for all.

 

 

One of the VWSC members displaying the flipchart as part of awareness                   Awareness rally by children of Barguttu village, Jharkhand

                     sessions on world toilet Day in Jharkhand

 

 

The activism in 2016 has been organized across the world under the theme, ‘Toilets and Jobs’ putting focus on how toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy. The focus will be on improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity particularly women and girls. At FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS), the day was observed with the community members at Barguttu village, Namkum block in Jharkhand and Mathur Chinna Colony in Vilupuram district, Tamilnadu.

 

In Barguttu village, the events were geared towards developing a clear strategy that will influence investments in sanitation and hygiene and to reduce the knowledge gap on building sanitation services. The events were attended by Government functionaries and local elected officials, members from leading NGOs, training institutions, Village Mukhiyas, Jal Sahiyas, Ward and Swasth Sahiyas. The present dignitaries highlighting the achievements of Swachh Bharat mission called on all tiers of society to work together to solve India’s deep-rooted sanitation challenges for the wellbeing and inclusive prosperity for society as a whole. They urged the Jal Sahiyas and the Village Water and Sanitation Committees to lead the way on raising awareness of the impact of poor sanitation on health, productivity and dignity. A display of the toilet model used by FXBIS project and the use of flip charts in an interactive session was informative and a visual reinforcement of sanitation & hygiene issues. The toilet model was highly appreciated by government and civil society partners present at the event. Children and women from the community performed a Nukkad natak (Street play) and also took out a rally to raise awareness on the issue. A discussion on the topic and the programmes of FXBIS WATSAN programme was also telecast on local television network, Kashish News.

 

 

The members of children parliament sensitizing the communities about             The children taking pledge to keep their villages clean on World

             the importance of the day in Tamilnadu                                                                        Toilet Day in Tamilnadu

 

In Mathur Chinna Colony, in Villupuram, Tamilnadu the day was observed with 56 community members from the villages of Mathur, Kazupeurmpakkam, Nesal, village leaders, local school teachers and FXBIS staff. FXBIS has been facilitating the construction of toilets in the district, a key component of its WASH and Health programme agenda. A number of villages including Mathur Chinna Colony of Villupuram in Tamilnadu today are 100% open defecation free zone. All 85 households in Mathur Chinna Colony have individual toilets and the entire community is using it. Through regular interaction they have expressed improved health, confidence, dignity and improved self-esteem has become a reality for the entire colony. Apart from the distribution of IEC materials in the forms of wall writing, pamphlets and posters it was felt that hearing about the lived experiences of people would be a more effective motivator. An interactive and exposure session at Mathura Chinna Colony was organized for 28 women from neighbouring Nesal village. They understood the concept of toilet construction, usage and maintenance of toilets. The women participants also visited some of the household toilets of the families in Mathur.

 

FXBIS is focussed on building upon the gains made at these interactive sessions by actualizing change spoken about and sought by the community. In Jharkhand, 20 families expressed readiness to build toilet and use it. The women of the community resolved to contribute a portion of fund and labour along with the govt subsidy to complete the household toilet construction by 2018. Incentivizing the community District Water and Sanitation Department, Government of Jharkhand agreed to release cost to the account of beneficiaries. A manual on toilet construction was distributed along with the training of 12 masons in drawing and design of low cost toilet model ensuring the availability of local labour. In Nesal village in Tamil Nadu, the community resolved to submit a petition to concerned departments to include the leftover family names in Government subsidy list that will enable people to construct household toilets. These awareness sessions have not only helped break the taboo over toilets and but also heralds an opportunity for communities across the globe to integrate sustainable good health practices as part of the social norm.

 

Glimpses from FXB India Suraksha observations in 2016 : https://www.flickr.com/photos/88471363@N07/albums/72157675445464491

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