According to The National Sample Survey (NSS) 59.4 per cent of India’s rural homes defecate in the open. This is despite the fact that the government runs schemes like the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) and has borne an expenditure of 19,626 crore INR ($4.3 billion) in the last 10 years.
VV-PACS Community Correspondent Shabnam reports from Jagdishpur village, Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh where over 200 people do not have access to a toilet and have to resort to defecate in the open. Sangeeta Devi is one of those people and being heavily pregnant does not help her situation. Women and girls in general are afraid to go outdoors to defecate due to the dangers to their physical well being from animals. Added to this, most just feel ashamed to go out in public.
Out of the three past Village Heads, only one was willing to look into the matter, but still nothing has been done about it. The villagers themselves are low-income labourers without the luxury of spare money to build their own toilet. The price paid by locals for not having a toilet is immense. Between 400,000-500,000 children under five die each year from diarrhoea in India.
So despite all this expenditure on schemes like the Total Sanitation Campaign why are villagers not benefiting? The simple answer is that funds often get misused along the way. In many cases, the Village Head and other officials siphon money away either not constructing a toilet at all or by constructing a shoddy unusable structure. Uttar Pradesh is a perfect example of how states fail to deliver on official promises. For the 10 years, the Uttar Pradesh government dutifully reported steadily rising access to latrines in rural areas with the help of $600m in public funds under the Total Sanitation Campaign. It was stated that coverage officially increased from 19.23 per cent of households in 2001 to 82.47 per cent a decade later.But the reality is far from the statistics. The 2011 national census showed only 21.8 per cent of households had toilets.
Shabnam and other Community Correspondents have been covering such stories of ghastly sanitation from different parts of Uttar Pradesh. In Jagdishpur, Shabnam will not stop campaigning until the current Village Head builds the community toilets for this village. It’s time to join your voice to the community’s efforts.
Call to Action: Please call Mr Bhaiyyalal, Village Head, Jagdishpur Village on +91- 8874014044 and tell him to ensure that the residents of Jagdishpur get access to toilets immediately.
About the Partnership: The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos generated by the network will be able to highlight voices from the margins, providing skills to social communicators to provide advocacy tools to community based organizations.
Similar stories of activism in Uttar Pradesh whereby community members have reported malpractices and managed to bring about positive results are listed below.