PM Narendra Modi has been emphasizing on the importance of an open defecation-free India and the crucial role government bodies and corporates can play in achieving this lofty target. Here’s a story of a village that’s doing its bit in making our country open defecation-free. Situated in Mandvi Block of Kutch District in Gujarat, Nani Rayan is a small village with 141 households. A large section of the population here belongs to the Gadhvi community. When the team of experts from Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL) and Tata Trust leading Open Defecation Free Block program arrived at the village, they were surprised to see the village’s heightened awareness on hygiene.
Out of 141 households, only 30 were sans toilets due to poor financial conditions of the occupants. The project team immediately began strategizing on ways to make the village open defecation-free.
Preliminary work involved regular meetings with community leaders and members of Yuvak Mandal to seek their support in this mission. Simultaneous meetings were held with women of the village who were identified for their ability to create social pressure on men for the construction of toilets. Leveraging the power of gaming, an engagement activity was conceptualized to spread the programme’s message of safe sanitation practices and personal hygiene among children.
To drive the message home, the village was covered under one-day- one village campaign program and organized school rallies, community-led total sanitation (CLTS), meetings with the community leaders, youth and women, door-to-door visits and a film show. A special vehicle called “Swachhata Rath” was developed which carried banners on sanitation and played related audio messages.
With the right level of demand generation for toilets achieved post the campaign, the next step involved building the supply chain mechanism. With financial and technical support from the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), CGPL and Tata Trust’s Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell jointly organized a Masons’ training programme on toilet making . 30 masons participated in this on-the-job training programme and constructed four toilets within two days for widows in the village.
Around 2 and half months time, Nani Rayan achieved the status of an open defecation-free village as its people came together to construct toilets and promote hygiene in every lacking household.
This is a unique example of team effort between a corporate, government and a rural community. In a country where over 569 million people still relieve themselves in the open, the story of Nani Rayan will inspire many rural communities adopt hygiene by building toilets.