Transforming Sanitation in Rural Villages
Transforming Sanitation – The Swachh Bharat movement, which spread across the nation, contributed to raising awareness of the urgent need for sanitation as a primary factor in many serious health problems that affect us. Even so, sanitation issues still exist despite our quick progress in building toilets and achieving (nearly) universal coverage. Unfortunately, the lack of waste management systems and many unoccupied toilets in rural India show that our 2030 goal for sanitation really hinges on changing people’s behavior.
Adding fuel to the fire, poor solid and liquid waste management in rural areas is a major contributor to the poisoning of our nation’s critically important groundwater resources and precious community water bodies. Again, infrastructure solutions are needed, but real change won’t happen unless the populace is given the tools to use them.
Community Is What Drives Village Transformation
Mangi Budruk Village was named a Smart Village in 2017 and given a financial incentive of Rs 10 lakh by the Maharashtra government. Yet only 10 of its 234 houses had toilets a little over ten years ago. Solid garbage was deposited in open areas and fouled the streets, while liquid waste festered in open drains and flowed onto the streets. How, therefore, did a village like this, which is tucked away in the jungles of Maharashtra and is primarily populated by tribal and Banjara people, fully transform itself and become a Smart Village?
An initiative called Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) was started in 2012, which was two years before the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was introduced. One of the first things the newly constituted Village Development Committee (VDC) did was to take its members on exposure tours of “model villages” like Hiware Bazaar and similar places. They had never imagined a village could be that well-kept and self-sufficient in their wildest fantasies.
The neighbourhood got to work, and the Block Development Officer and other government officials soon noticed how well the CLTS programme was working. As a result, Mangi Bk. won the Santh Gadgebaba Gram Swachhata Puraskar in 2013 and received a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 for being the cleanest village in the Rajura Block. They also took home a second-place trophy at the Chandrapur Sant Gadgebaba Gram Swachhata Puraskar, worth an additional Rs. 3 lakh.
Mangi quickly acquired Open Defecation Free status and 100% toilet coverage. Encouraged by these successes and certain that anything was possible with community cooperation, the village community vowed to maintain the momentum for development.
True Change, Community-Driven
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), as shown in Mangi Village, is still a potent strategy for achieving our country’s sanitation goals. The communities themselves change as a result of being empowered to evaluate and analyse village sanitation on their own and to identify and develop solutions for their own sanitation and hygiene needs. Faiths evolve. Understanding occurs. And the united efforts of people result in change.
A five step method to excite, enable, and empower communities into action holds the key.
1. Vision Building – Assisting the community in creating a shared vision for their village by leading them on exposure visits, establishing the baseline, establishing shared goals, and establishing a Village Development Committee to coordinate community action.
2. Community mobilization is the process of making a community more sensitive through educational events, public performances, and gatherings. include the village’s traditional religious and other leaders in the process. coordinating community sensitization activities and organizing organizations of various ages, including senior citizens for monitoring and conflict resolution, youth for village clean-up campaigns, and women’s groups to inspire homes to build toilets and soak pits.
3. Collective Action – Starting a cleaning campaign in villages by neighbourhood associations.
4. Collaboration and Resource Leveraging – For long-term sustainability, include panchayat, block level development officers, and other key stakeholders like schools and anganwadis in later stages.
5. Capacity Building – To maintain group dynamics and progress, women should be organised into Federations and trained in group dynamics and conflict resolution.