Sustainable Sanitation at scale and saturation can be achieved only by way of CLTS. Community Participation is the key and behavior change is most crucial aspect. ODF is first step; #ODF 2.0 is the next logical walk.
Gram Panchayat Chhattoud is headed by Female Sarpanch named Swati Verma. A post graduate in Management and MSc in Mathematics, she always dreamed about making her Gram Panchayat ODF, but lacked the financial and other resources required and always thought it would remain a pipe dream. But now with Community Led Total Sanitation methodology and active participation by women Self Help Group (SHG) of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) her Gram Panchayat has achieved ODF status. Faced with herculean task and constant opposition from wasted interests, local level caste and class politics, but supported by other Sarpanch of neighboring Gram Panchayat under banner of “Bhaichara Model”, and by constant morning vigilance, Door to Door Campaign , Gram Panchayat Chhattoud claims to be “Cleanest Gram Panchayat of Central India”. Without going into authenticity of the claim, achievement is very much real and trustworthy. Under # ODF 2.0 in her Gram Panchayat, NADEF tanks and vermi-compost are being constructed as part of Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM). Gram Panchayat Chhattoud is also trying to achieve status of ‘Cashless Gram Panchayat’, with total financial inclusion and by way of installing digital payment facilities.
Currently there are many such Gram Panchayats in Raipur District having more or less same story of resistance, opposition and hurdles, presently all Gram Panchayats are on their own way to achieve the ODF status. But path was not very easy or simple. It all started with problem faced by target led Construction model and now it can be said it was ‘blessing in disguise’!
“Making Gram Panchayat ODF is our priority and we know it is most important work but cannot be done by force; Mission must be based on ‘Bhaichara’ ( brotherhood)” said Babloo Sharma, man with firm determination , Chief of organization of Sarpanch (Elected Village Chairperson of unit of grass root democracy in India called as Gram Panchayat). “Sarpanch sammelan” (Conference of Chairperson of Gram Panchayat) was organized by Panchayat and Rural development Department for knowing the difficulties faced at ground level in implementation of flagship programme of Government of India called as Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (Clean India Mission-Rural), which aims making India Clean before 2nd October 2019.
Gram Panchayat is village level unit of direct democracy, headed by directly elected Sarpanch. Executive Agency for many development work is Gram Panchayat and as head of Panchayat, its duty of Sarpanch to do the required job. Thus it was but natural and usual that under SBM-G, construction of toilets, was done by Gram Panchayat as a rule but by Sarpanch in reality. Many times villagers were not involved or there was general apathy and lack of concern. People complained about faulty construction sometimes with, and many times without any valid or legitimate reason just to settle political scores or to score brawny points. In few cases administration, bound by targets and timelines, tried to speed up the activity, by putting little pressure on Sarpanch and Sachiv (Secretary of Gram Panchayat). Chhattisgarh Government for right reasons, to incentivize community action and focus on behavior change, delayed the incentive amount, as an established rule and to be given only after three months of vigilance after Gram Panchayat achieving ODF status.
In some cases, mainly in larger Gram Panchayat, Sarpanch faced with resource crunch complained about this tactics of ‘delayed payment’. So there was some confusion and misunderstanding in implementation of SBM-G. Thus presence of Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) M.K. Raut ,of Panchayat and Rural Development Department , Sarpanch Sammelan (Conference of Elected Chairperson of Gram Panchayat) was organized , and it was decided that the model that will be followed will be of Bhaichara. Bhaichara is a Hindi word meaning Brotherhood but it has larger connotation and can be translated as “Community Led”. No force, intimidation and coercion of any kind will be used by administration or by any other stakeholder to attain ODF status. Whole process must be based on mutual respect, self help and community participation and CLTS will be the ONLY way and was termed as ‘Bhaichara’!
Thus it was well informed decision that model that will be followed will be of Community Led Total Sanitation. In any case no upfront subsidy will be given (not allowed by state government rules). Maximum focus will be given on ‘morning and evening vigilance’ with active participation of every stakeholder. No standard design of toilet will be encouraged for superstructure but sub structure must be of leach pit pattern. In a nutshell, it was decided that model of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) will be replicated in purest form.
The most essential part of CLTS process is trained field staff. Financially and technically supported by UNICEF Raipur, District Administration provided training to field level staff and volunteers working for this noble cause and called them as #ODF Sipahis (Sipahi a Hindi word for soldier, as soldier is committed for his mission). Trained #ODF Sipahis and with hand holding by the CLTS specialists different CLTS activities were done like triggering, follow up, demo and door to door visits to motivate people to use toilets. No sanctions under SBM were given in individual household, but only number was sanctioned, according to base line survey to initiate community action as individual sanctions create problem of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. To have judicious and careful use of resource, high handed approach was used in Tilda Block of Raipur District and it was chosen for intensive work for two reasons, one it is located away from urban conglomerate and second this block has active SHG groups under NRLM.
SHGs under NRLM fold were oriented about ill effects of Open Defecation; initially response was not as expected but later on movement geared up and many SHGs done inter-loaning of micro finance for construction of toilets. Gram Panchayat Raikheda achieved ODF status because of vigorous and spirited work of SHGs of NRLM.
Key center of attention was on morning and evening follow up, the timing of open defecation. All stakeholders like Sarpanch, Sachiv, Mitanin (Asha Worker), Members of SHGs of NRLM, Staff of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme), villagers, local elected ward members. Under banner of ‘Bhaichara’, people led by Sarpanch of adjoining village also participated in such vigilance as per predetermined schedule in each Gram Panchayat.
In every Gram Panchayat in Tilda Block different Natural Leaders emerged (NL) and each has a different success story. Common people with very common aim and aspirations have shown remarkable courage, perseverance, firmness and resolve in making their Gram Panchayat ODF. The first Gram Panchayat to become ODF without any upfront subsidy in Tilda Block was Gram Panchayat Ilda. It all started with dynamic Sarpanch of Ilda Gram Panchayat, Mehataru sahu, miidle aged man, fifth standard drop out, but continued his schooling by open methods and recently passed Tenth Standard Exam, visited Doma Gram Panchayat of Dhmatari District,under departments scaling up programme. Visit to ODF Gram Panchayat changed his outlook, and he decided to make his Gram Panchayat ODF. In heavy rains, supported by CLTS specialists and ODF Sipahis, he managed to convince villagers of ill effects of open defecation. Three hundred plus villagers, of different caste, creed and religion did morning follow up without single break. In such a charged atmosphere his Gram Panchayat gained ODF status in short span of two months. This was first success and accomplishment of our Bhaichara Model.
After this many Gram Panchayats attained ODF status. Tilda Block having Ninety Nine Gram Panchayats is on the verge of accomplishing ODF ranking. A few Sarpanch have formed their own group named “Swachh sarfonga Sangwari”, where Sarfonga is name of Gram Panchayat, and word Sangwari can be translated as co-passenger. All groups, large or small, based on caste, creed or gender have sole aim of making Tilda Block an ODF Block.
ODF is not the final destination; it is the first step of the sanitation ladder. After attaining ODF category, communities are moving upwards on cleanliness hierarchy, and it has been termed as #ODF2.0. Wherein, now focus is given on Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) also on handwashing platforms, especially in schools, to promote handwashing before mid-day meal (MDM), NADEF tanks and vermi-compost pits. Due to current activism generated at grass root level, different government schemes are energetically implemented like promoting use of digital payment gateway as part of ambitious plan of cashless economy. Spill over effect of Bhaichara Model can be seen in Raipur District and also in other District of State of Chhattisgarh. ODF is not the end; but it’s a first stride of the long walk to Total Sanitation and Bhaichara is the only way forward!
Nileshkumar Kshirsagaris the CEO Jila Panchayat in Raipur, India.