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Towards clean India

Is India's dream of clean India, free of open defecation possible without awareness, greater community involvement and change in behaviour? Surely not.

According to the statistics, over one-third of the world’s population lacks access to a toilet. In India alone, World Bank estimates that 53 per cent of households resort to open defecation (OD).

Annually about 200,000 children below the age of five die due to water-borne diseases in backward communities of our country. And, 61.7 million children are stunted, the highest prevalence in the world. This itself is a barrier to development and has an evident negative and irretrievable impact on health outcomes in long term. Apart from the depressing statistics, the big question is what is being done to improve the situation on ground?

A tribal girl from Jharkhand washing her hand as part of her daily practice before proceeding for midday meals

With a concerted focus to contribute to the vision of a clean and open defecation free India, FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) is working to ensure access to safe, water, sanitation and hygiene practices amongst the backward communities of different pockets of India. Through promotion of effective and low-cost water and sanitation technology and encouraging hygiene related behaviour change, FXBIS is trying to enable rural population lead a healthy and have improved quality of life.

 

Explaining the holistic approach of how FXBIS is weaving this silent change, Mamta Borgoyary, CEO, FXB India Suraksha says, “Our thrust is two fold- through an intensive communication strategy we create awareness on importance of safe water and improved hygiene, and then facilitate access to knowledge and technology like low cost toilet. The main aims is to first influence the behaviour change and then facilitate change in practice.”

FXBIS is tirelessly working toward promoting a feasible model of effective, community driven and low-cost sanitation programs, encouraging good practices of hygiene and improved access to clean water supplies in Ranchi in Jharkhand, Uppada in Andhra Pradesh and in Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu.

 

School children observing Global Handwashing day in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu

 

In the hard rock terrain of Jharkhand, safe water is a very scarce resource. With uncertainty and irregularity in rainfall pattern and frequent drought spells in recent years, it becomes crucial to make optimum utilization of available water resources. Fecal coliform contamination, especially due to poor sanitation infrastructure and practice, is one of the commonest pollutants in drinking water sources in this region.

Using Akvo Flow (mobile based software), the status of each water point in the area is recorded for six selected parameters. Use of android phones also enables records of the exact location of each

Glad about spreading awareness on saying no to open defecation, a girl shares her smile in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu

Women having a look of the map which provides the overview of the situation of water quality in the area

water point, which are later uploaded on a map. The maps generated out of this exercise provide an in-depth insight, which is then shared with the community to provide a holistic overview of the situation in the area so as to enable them to take quick and robust decision for improved water quality management. As a result of the water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in 12 tribal villages in three Gram Panchayats (Dungri, Hardag, Hurua) of Ranchi district in Jharkhand, the changes are already evident.

The condition with the deprived inhabitants of dalit villages in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu is no less. They have suffered with water borne diseases and compelled to opt for open defecation for decades but now things are changing. FXBIS carried out the construction of model toilets in several households in Mathur Periya Colony of Villupuram district thus establishing the trend of what is being envisioned as a dream to have toilets in each home.

A wall painting saying ‘No’ to open defecation in order to keep the village clean

With the focus on spreading awareness simultaneously in all the prevalence pockets of country, key steps are taken by FXBIS for behavioural change at various levels. Sessions with school children and parents are conducted on regular basis on the need for practicing safe sanitation and hygiene. Across the village, walls are painted with safe sanitation practices. Since last so many years, every year, on every Global Handwashing Day (October 15), school children along with the community spread awareness on the importance of the day.

FXBIS believes that, if every citizen of their respective states takes up the responsibility of total sanitation, the day is not far, when whole country will stand parallel to what Sikkim is today. This Himalayan state is the only one in the country that has achieved total sanitation. It constructed 98, 043 individual household toilets, surpassing the target of 87, 014, thereby achieving 112.67 per cent target under the Government’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan Scheme.

In this vast country, while FXBIS continues to take small steps towards the dream of clean India, one thing that is evident to us is total sanitation is indeed possible in this country but only when the community mindset is geared to understand, accept and act for a "clean India".

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