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Hygiene Promotion through household sanitation
The challenge of making the three hamlets of Kattur, Karrupannapatti and Kolakudipatti of Kolakudi panchayat in Thottiyam Block, Tiruchirappalli District in Tamil Nadu has been successfully completed by the Gramalaya, NGO, within a record period of six months.
Gramalaya a pioneer in the field of Sanitation, adapted participatory approach while constructing 150 Toilets in the three hamlets. It formed Association of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (AWASH) in each hamlet. Each AWASH committee has consisted of 20 members mostly, youths (10 males & 10 females) and had the panchayat president as the advisor of the committee. The committee members were given special training for data collection, IEC methods to convey the sanitation messages, technical knowledge of the types of Toilets and usage of toilet practices. They also were given essence on Health and Hygiene including Hand washing practices. To enable them handle the funds provided for construction of the toilets they were trained in book-keeping and Accountancy. The field staff of the Gramalaya was the secretary of the committee.
To win the support of all families the funds for the construction of the toilets (Rs.16,500, per unit) was transferred to the AWASH committee. This ensured transparency in all financial transactions to the satisfaction of all the families. The AWASH committee met once in a month to discuss all aspects of selection of the families, choice of the toilet models, time frame for construction, purchase of construction materials in bulk to ensure economy, transport of the materialas, imparting hygiene messages and usage by all family members and supervision during construction. As per the Government norms and choice of the families, it was decided to construct the Twin Pits toilets with junction chamber. As preferred by the families all toilets had attached Bathrooms. The committee selected the households and as per prior agreement raised toilet up to the basement level as a part of beneficiaries' contribution.
Through the Health Educators, hygiene messages were imparted among the school going children using flip charts, post cards and snake and ladder game. The importance of hand washing and other personal hygiene messages were taught through hygiene songs thereby child-to-child and child-to-parents, the hygiene messages were transformed in the communities where children acted as Ambassadors of change.
A masonry training programme for construction of Twin leach pits with junction box was organised by Gramalaya. The masons completed the construction of the toilets including fixing of the pans, plumbing work, super structure, leach pits with junction chamber.The AWASH committee members and Gramalaya staff frequently visited the houses to watch the progress of construction and supervise and the technological aspects of the Toilets.
The construction of each toilet took not more than 3 to 5 days. The AWASH committee went door to door and further explained them the usage practices. They were told that wash water and human excreta alone should go to the pit through the junction box. Extraneous materials like shampoo covers, soap covers, used sanitary pads should never put in to the pan, since they will clog the outlet from the toilets to the junction box and will pose problems. The beneficiaries were asked to use the toilets as soon as construction process was over.
By providing training and capacity building to the AWASH members and by empowering them to take part in the decision making process, funds utilisation and community participation and contribution, transparency and accountability of the project ensured with sustainable sanitation initiatives. The role of Gramalaya merely as a catalyst role and ensuring smooth implementation of the program by providing technical support and by engaging trained health educators for long lasting hygiene behaviours and practices among the communities.
Mrs.Mahalaksmi and Mr.Ramajayam a young couple said it was one of the happiest days in their life. Mahalakshmi said that she no longer had to walk to long distances worry about prying eyes, fear snakes and scorpions or waiting for hours for open defecation. The toilet helped her to maintain her dignity, ensure safety and save time and use the toilets during any part of the day or night, rain or shine.
62 year old Mr.Raju a beneficiary had contracted cataract in both eyes, almost blind during the past three years, according to doctors due to high blood pressure they could not perform the cataract operation and at present he was treated bring down the BP. For him and his wife the toilet was the God given gift provide by the Gramalaya. They no longer had to walk over 200 metre for defecation, everyday and during hostile weather.
Mrs.Indhirani, AWASH leader of the Karupannapatti hamlet said that all the 60 houses had new toilets attached bathrooms and all the members in each family use the toilets. She was proud that the hamlet would be Open defecation free soon. The AWASH committee members also visited regularly the families and ensure proper and full usage of the toilets. The families members also have been told to ensure that bath water do not spill over in to the toilet. The AWASH committee members once in a fortnight also visited the common spots in and near the village to ensure they are no longer patronised by any villagers. She was happy that the visit to the nearby private doctor or primary health centre was also coming down because of the healthy and hygienic environment in the 100% sanitation covered village.
The three hamlets have become model villages through the empowerment given to them, flexibility in handling funds as per the Gramalaya's guidelines, and the systematic manner of awareness generation, the facilitator Gramalaya has converted the villages Open Defecation Free under the CSR project. Thanks to the spade work the hamlets to continue to the ODF after the Exit of the facilitator.