More Toilets, Less Open Defecation

Jorandajhariya, a district predominantly dominated by tribals is located in the tribal district Jashpur touching the borders of Odisha. The entire area known as ‘Naglok’ has the maximum variety of species of deadly snakes like cobra, krait, black krait, banded krait, etc. Once considered a grey area being used as movement corridor by the LWE (Left Wing Extremists), has transformed itself significantly with the development and change in mindset of the people who are moving forward steadily on to the path of greater development. Day by day, Jorandajhariya is setting positive examples for neighboring gram panchayats.

The Sarpanch, recalls that it was a herculean task to motivate the people to walk the path of development. Once the village was finalized for ‘SansadAdarsh Gram Village’, the first and foremost task was to keep the village surroundings clean. Majority of households did not have toilets then and even few families, who had it, did not use it. The administration first motivated the community leaders for making toilets at their homes and then to adopt the practice of using them.

Massive level IEC campaigns was taken up, wherein youth groups, school students and general public were shown documentary films of successful clean model villages, pamphlets, posters and other mediums were used for generating awareness. The Gram Panchayat imposed fines on those who went for defecation in the open.

Sarpanch Katari Ram Pradhan and other members of Panchayat strategically focused its efforts and resources into schools to bring in attitudinal changes in the behavior pattern of children first with regard to health, hygiene and sanitation. Children once convinced and taught, picked up the practice of hand washing, hygiene and using toilets very fast. Later on, they started motivating other students and adults in home and neighboring areas. They got wholehearted support from the teachers too in this work. The Sarpanch says, “When we built the toilets, the youth and the women immediately started using them. However, the older people would still go to the fields. We tried everything but still this continued,” he says. The older men claimed that they were raised to defecate in the open and were reluctant to change their ways. “We formed teams and waited in the morning, and started catching these people. Fines were imposed on them by the panchayat till they started using the toilets.” Today the practice of open defecation has completely stopped. The GP has kept a cash reward of INR 5000 to anyone who brings to their notice any person who has been defecating in the open.

The school children were made an integral part of this mega mission. The selected team of children locally known as ‘ChhauwaToli’or ‘SwacchhataBalveer’ at Jorandajhariya spread awareness on cleanliness and hygiene among the villagers. They visit neighboring GPs and spread messages on healthy and hygienic practices. Their efforts motivated many people in adopting a healthy practice of building toilets at home. Today, using toilets has been adopted as a best practice by the Gram Panchayat and spreading fast to nearby areas too!


Mrs. Swarupa Pandit

Assistant Professor, Department of Arts & Humanities, Kalinga University


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