Successful implementation of government sanitation program brings joy to a rural community in Orissa
Sarita Biswal, the correspondent of this video, lives in a tribal village in Orissa state that lacked basic sanitation and drinking water facilities until now. So, the villagers were forced to drink water from the pond which is brackish and unclean. The poor quality of drinking water and lack of sanitation facilities frequently caused villagers to fall sick from illnesses that are usually preventable. Sarita herself developed stomach ailments from which she is yet to recover. As a young woman it was also inconvenient and embarrassing for her not to have a toilet at home. However, in the summer of 2010 the village council provided permanent toilets to every household in Sarita’s village, bringing much joy and relief to everyone including her. Watch Sarita’s profile video here.
There are 300 families in Sarita’s village Kochila Nuagaon. 250 of them live below the poverty line, earning less than 7 USD a month. There is no way these families could have built a toilet on their own or buy potable water.
The sanitation facilities to Sarita’s village have been possible because of the Total Sanitation Campaign, a special government program. Launched in 2000, this program has a broad goal to eradicate the practice of open defecation and give rural areas access to safe water. In Orissa, about 3 million people have so far benefited from the program.
However, according to a recent survey done by a local NGO called Bharat Integrated Social Welfare Agency, only 20% of the rural population in Orissa has had access to clean water and sanitation so far. This means, the government still has the huge challenge of providing 80% of its rural population with proper sanitation.
But, Sarita says, that there is a good way to make that happen. She has observed that government plans have a higher success rate when there are more women in the implementing body. In her own village, the village council has several women who bore the shame of relieving themselves in the bushes for years. So, when the government scheme on sanitation came, these women played an active role in making it a success. If the government agencies involve more women in grassroots development processes, not only that will boost rural development, but it will also empower women.