With over 4 lakh villages, 400 districts, and 19 States/UTs declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in rural India, the Swachh Bharat Mission today organized a National Workshop on ODF Sustainability at Udaipur in Rajasthan. Principal Secretaries-in-Charge of Sanitation, Swachh Bharat Mission Directors and other members of state teams from across the country came together for the workshop, led by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Addressing the gathering, Secretary of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Shri Parameswaran Iyer emphasized the importance of sustaining the ODF outcomes of the Mission. He highlighted that the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) has made significant progress in the past four years since its launch. The rural sanitation coverage has gone up since the launch of the mission from 39% to over 90% today. Over eight crore toilets have been built across rural India under the Mission and behavior change has led to over 90% of these toilets being used by rural communities in the country, as per various independent studies and surveys undertaken at large scale.
The Secretary particularly lauded the role played by Swachhagrahis in achieving and sustaining this massive behavior change in the nation. He launched the revised Swachhagrahi guidelines of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which focus on the continued role of the Swachhagrahis in not just ODF achievement but ODF sustainability as well.
Several Swachhagrahis from the grassroots, representing various States, also shared their experiences at the workshop. Smt Sunita Devi, a master trainer mason from Jharkhand, spoke about the State’s “Rani Mistris” who are breaking gender norms and getting into the usually male-dominated domain of working as masons for construction of toilets. She said that she has trained many of these women masons in her district and it is not only improving sanitation, but also empowering women. She mentioned that she has herself built more than 100 toilets with her own hands, and that the initiative has given her the confidence to lead and train other rural women as well.
Shri Pratap Singh, Swachhagrahi from Faridabad in Haryana, said that he believes that ensuring that all rural citizens in his district understand the health benefits of toilets and use them regularly is his foremost duty. Smt. Taruna Vyas, Swachhagrahi from Rajasthan, spoke about the ignition point of behavior change. She said that a village becomes ODF the moment the community decides that they want it to become ODF.
This was followed by a Panel of Collectors, where district collectors from across the country shared their experiences of leading and sustaining the declaration of their districts as open defecation free. A Panel of Mission Directors later deliberated the policy level mechanisms that need to be put in place in States to sustain sanitation benefits. States and districts prepared presentations on their learnings from the day’s discussions and shared them with the larger group at the end of the workshop.
(Release ID: 1543868)