ODF villages back to square one due to water, space crunch: Study
Despite wide awareness created by the Swachchh Bharat Mission (SBM), the resistance to toilets in villages is considerable. As per a study, many villages have gone back to open defecation after being judged as Open Defecation Free (ODF) earlier. Lack of water, unavailability of space and resistance to change are some of the reasons cited by the study for creating hurdles in the success of the SBM.
The report, a copy of which was also presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is prepared by Public Policy Research Centre (PPRC), Global Sanitation Fund, Delhi and Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, Mumbai, covers over 41 villages from Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Odisha.
According to the report, there was a need to rope in more women in the SBM campaign creating leadership and encouraging the adoption of toilets from as early as in Anganwadis and primary school level.
"Children were sacred of closed door and darkness in the toilet and women said while going out in the open they socialize with other women in village, an opportunity they do not get in the closed household during daily household chores," says the study titled 'Making Villages Open Defecation Free-Issues in institutionalisation of Success'.
"Several families willing to construct toilets have failed to do so because of the lack of space in their houses. Families in villages like Kinngaon vaillage in Phuambri district of Maharasthra argued that most of the homes in the villages are so small that they were unable to accommodate a space for a toilet. The problem is especially prevalent in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and north Jharkhand", said the study running into 40 pages.
"The selected villages were those which were once declared open defecation free and continue to be so. Moreover, the study also includes villages that relapsed into non-ODF category. The study attempts to understand why have some of these villages failed to continue with the ODF status and others have not", says director, PPRC, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.
Several villages have been declared OPD only after people in these villages showed leadership often led by Sarpanch, Gram Sevak or a group of people who convinced elders and women through children and young people and worked hard for years. Stellar example of individuals in the past who took the OPD in a mission mode also contributed to the OPD in parts of some States, particularly in Maharashtra.
The report gives example of Popatrao Pawar's zeal and devotion that successfully institutionalised the ODF practice for over two decades in Hiware Bazar village of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. Popatrao's consistent campaign against Open defecation and even "picking the faeces with his own hand and throwing it in the dustbin" built the movement and changed the mindset of people, says the study.
Similarly, Cahandu Patil, ex-sarpanch, has turned out to be the pioneer of the sanitation movement of Chandrapur district. He closed his liquor shop after he saw that alcohol was reducing prosperity of his village and coming in the way of construction of toilets. Likewise Jalsahiya-Manmati Mahto, who was the early adopter of the toilet in her village, worked hard to convince others to adopt clean defecating practices", says the study.
Another interesting leadership example quoted by study is of Bharat Patil (Kolharpur) who registered 4,500 FIRs against people who defecated in the public places. To convince people, he asked the lady leading the Gauri Pravesh (during Ganesh Puja) to talk about constructing toilets.
The study quotes Word Health Organisation in claiming that 4,650 children die everyday due to diarrhea alone. Typhoid, Cholera, dysentery and polio are other results of OPD.
The ODF India has a long distance to cover in villages as is evident also in ' Swachhta Status Report' by the National Sample Survey (NSS) Office which says more than half the rural population of the country still opts for open defecation.
The NSS survey conducted during May-June 2015 estimated that 52.1 per cent of people in rural India choose open defecation compared to 7.5 per cent in urban India.
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