- Behaviour Change Communication is critical to the success of Swachh Bharat
- This entails changing mindsets and attitudes towards sanitation and hygiene
- This, according to the Hygiene Index, is something most cities need to do
What is common between a 105-year old woman from Chattisgarh trying to educate her fellow villagers about the importance of toilets, a 36-year old man cycling from one tip of the country with the message of cleanliness and a group of students armed with lunch boxes trying to stop the practice of open defecation? The desire to change habits and mindsets around hygiene and sanitation in communities.
The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission is linked to the participation of the people. It depends on people changing their attitudes towards cleanliness, building and using toilets, and maintaining personal hygiene among other things. This means creating a ‘behavioural change’ in an individual is critical to help break old habits and norms.
This is why ‘behavioural change communication’ was an important component of the Hygiene Index survey, with 10 cities across India being ranked on this parameter. The Hygiene Index found that most cities needed to work on creating behavioural change and suggested an increase in funds allocated towards this.
Read More: Swachh Hygiene Index
7 of the 10 cities surveyed did not invest any of their funds in behaviour change communication in 2015.
In fact, the importance of changing behaviour is something that has been consistently referenced to by the Prime Mister in his speeches on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
“Cleanliness cannot be achieved through Budget allocation. Behavioural change is the solution. It should become a mass movement,” PM Narendra Modi had said in a speech in 2016.
“It’s easy to forget this but public participation and public behaviour are actually the bedrock of any clean neighbourhood, city or country. Till each and every stakeholder contributes to and understands the value of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation, we cannot have a swachh India,” says Shrigopal Jagtap, Head of Solid Waste Management at BASIX, a non-profit organisation.
— Swachh Bharat (@swachhbharat) April 11, 2017
While behavioural change is intrinsic to India’s swachh dream, it also remains the biggest challenge. It is not easy to undo behavior that has been ingrained and internalised over generations, according to Mr Jagtap.
“In my experience, with a proper dedicated programme, it could take anywhere from 90 days to 6 months,” he says.
The Hygiene Index report suggests that a mixture of traditional and non-traditional approaches such as plays, posters, radio campaigns, etc. could be used to communicate the importance of changing behaviour related to swachhta.
Here’s a look at some of the things already being done around the country to inspire change in behaviour, mindsets and age-old habits.
1. Indore’s ‘Roko And Toko’ Push To Stop Open Defecation
Want to defecate in the open in Indore? Be prepared to be met with the cantankerous sound of clanging metal. Under this unique initiative take up by Indore’s civic body, ‘dibba gangs’ have been created to ‘roko aur toko’ those who defecate in the open. These ‘gangs’, mostly made up of schoolchildren, have taken to spreading the message by beating metal boxes loudly whenever they come across anyone defecating in the open.
The ‘gang members’ can also impose a fine of ₹100 on anyone found defecating or urinating in the open. This initiative is successful since it involves members of the very community it is seeking to change.
2. Gabbar is Back and He’s Fighting Open Defecation in Delhi
From Sholay’s Gabbar Singh telling Basanti to not defecate in the open to Deepika Padukone’s Shanti asking people about the value of clean toilets, students in Delhi have found an innovative way to spread the message of ‘swachhta’ through colourful Bollywood-inspired wall murals. These easily identified dialogues from iconic films have been given a swachh makeover and are a hit with the slum dwellers of Delhi’s Sultanpuri and Kirti Nagar areas.
3. Red Dots Unite to Segregate Waste in Pune
We don’t really give it much thought before tossing it into a dustbin, but menstrual waste can is a huge hazard for both the environment and the people who have to collect and segregate it. To educate people about disposing of their menstrual waste properly and the importance of segregation, members of SWaCH, a Pune-based waste collectors’ cooperative have been encouraging people to seal their sanitary waste in special red labeled bags.
4. Project Baala: Menstrual Awareness With The Environment in Mind
Poor menstrual hygiene is responsible for almost 70 per cent of reproductive diseases in India and untreated sanitary waste puts a huge burden on its landfills. In an effort to educate adolescent girls about proper menstrual hygiene while providing rural women with eco-friendly sanitary napkins, Project Baala has been working in schools across 5 states.
5. Kerala Is Going Green, One Pen at a Time
School goers in Kerala throw away more than a whopping one and a half crore pens a month. To reduce this mountain of plastic waste, a ‘Pen Drive’ was launched by artist Lakshmi Menon to convince students to swap their disposable ball pens for reusable ink pens. The campaign uses a blend of art and literature to educate people about the threat that these plastic pens pose to the environment.
6. Pushkar’s Madan Nath Uses His Moustache to Fight Open Defecation
Madan Nath, a resident of Ganahera Village in Pushkar, has been using his moustache to educate the people of his village about the basics of personal hygiene and public sanitation. Madan Nath vowed to shave off his moustache if he was unable to build toilets for 70 families. This novel protest piqued the interest of the villagers who were then taught about the importance of ending open defecation,
7. From Kargil to Kanyakumari on a Cycle, One Man’s Swachh Message
In 2016, 36-year-old food entrepreneur Pankaj Mall cycled from Kargil to Kanyakumari, covering 12 states, 350 villages, 90 small towns and cities with a simple motive—to educate people about the importance of having a toilet at home and general cleanliness.
He conducted workshops in schools and colleges, trained villagers about the basics of hygiene and sanitation in an attempt to reshape behaviour and habits.
8. 105-Year-Old Kunwar Bai’s Quest to Educate People About Toilets In Chattisgarh
This is the perfect example of how habits and mindsets can be changed at any age. Kunwar Bai, a 105-year-old woman from Chattisgarh had never even seen a toilet for about 100 years of her life. However, with the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, she immediately realised its significance and sold off her goats to build two toilets in her home. After this, she began to create awareness about the importance of having toilets by inviting fellow villagers to her house to show them the benefits.