March 2018

Improving community health at Mansa

Mansa district will soon achieve open-defecation-free status through Trusts’ efforts in 80 villages of the region

Villagers in Mansa district, Punjab, were educated on the critical link between using toilets and individual and community health

Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in October 2014, communities across rural and urban India are being sensitised about keeping the environment clean and maintaining hygiene. Taking the mission forward, the government also aspires to make the country open defecation free (ODF) by 2019. In rural areas, the projects under SBM (Gramin) are being implemented by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. 

To achieve ODF status for villages in Mansa, the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab, approached the Trusts for supporting SBM (G). According to a baseline survey conducted by the Government of India in 2012, 72% people in the district had been using toilets, while the rest would defecate in open. Therefore, a target was set by the Mansa district administration to achieve 100% sanitation coverage by becoming a part of the national campaign. The Trusts began planning and implementing the programme in August 2017 through its associate organisations – Reviving the Green Revolution (RGR) Cell and Himmotthan Society.

Step-by-step instructions ease the challenges of building a toilet for Mansa villagers
With an aim to improve community health through sanitation services in 80 villages of Mansa, the project teams began creating awareness about hygienic practices among villagers. A detailed plan was designed to make these villages ODF. Many people from the community were also appointed to perform different roles, such as motivators, field coordinators, etc. In addition to providing training at various levels, the Trusts also financially supported the project by contributing a sum of Rs15 lakh. As a result, the current status of sanitation coverage in Mansa stands at 94.55%. The programme has so far helped in achieving 98.75% of the target set for these 80 villages.

Many villagers are actively participating in executing this ambitious project. One such person is Ram Singh, the sarpanch of Kalipur village. When SBM (G) was launched in his village, a field coordinator from RGR visited his place and explained the objectives of the mission as well as the role of the village heads in the project. As a dutiful sarpanch, Ram Singh put all his efforts and became the driving force behind rolling out the campaign in his area. He extended his support in various processes, like completion of beneficiaries’ documents, delivering lectures during camps to bring about behaviour change, etc. He has spread awareness among his people about the benefits of using toilets for a healthy life and has facilitated the construction of individual household latrines (IHHLs) at their homes, ensuring that they receive the incentive provided by the government.

Motivators, field coordinators, and other people from the community played a key role in ensuring the success of the open-defecation-free programme in Mansa district
Further, understanding the importance of teamwork, Ram Singh put in place a 10-member team to engage in community mobilisation. This included door-to-door visits, regular follow-ups, awareness camps, school rallies, triggering, radio announcements, etc. For families who could not afford toilets and who did not have space within their premises, he ensured that they were provided with space after consent of the panchayat members and closely monitored the IHHL construction activity. Owing to the keen interest shown by this enthusiastic sarpanch towards the campaign, construction of 40 (out of the 51 planned) IHHL units has been initiated. Kalipur is on its way to becoming an ODF village soon.