Initiative: Sabar Shouchagar
Institution: District Magistrate, Nadia
Problem: In a 2014 global WHO-UNICEF report, India accounted for 58 per cent of all open defecations in the world. The health hazards are more pronounced in infants and children, and for women of all ages. The elderly and the disabled, also suffer physical, mental, and physiological risks without the access to proper latrines. Besides being the major cause for diarrheal deaths, malnutrition, and stunting of growth in children, open defecation practice also drains the economy. The economic cost of open defecation in India is calculated to be around Rs 2.4 trillion (approximately $38.4 Million USD) annually. In response, the district of Nadia surveyed the latrine usage in their community in December 2012 – January 2013. The data identified approximately 1.5 million people having no access to toilets in the district. In addition to government efforts to change community practice of defecating outside, a specific revitalized government strategy was needed to correct the unsanitary practice in the Nadia District.
Solution: Community mobilization to acclimatize the peoples from all strata, started through a three-tier training program. Educational institutions and school children were made integral part of the campaign to advocate for sanitary latrine usage, starting at home. A new fundraising/resource model was formulated to account for government funding constraints. For example, a fund available with MGNREGS (the wage employment guarantee scheme in India) was used for wage payment for pit digging and construction of the toilet. The entire district administration was sensitized and mobilized for a shared understanding and agreement for the highest priority to sanitation. The program outreach was planned in such a way that it could provide the services to remote villages, difficult riverine islands, vulnerable, poor and marginalized groups.
Impact: From 15 July 2013 to 30 September 2014, the programme was able to complete construction of more than 104,000 household latrines. Additional 37,000 latrines are under various stages of completion. With this momentum, the programme intends to complete the remaining 104,000 latrines by January 2015 to provide universal latrine access and to make the district is open defecation free.