- Dansal block had 16 per cent sanitation coverage till last year
- The district administration conducted several awareness programmes
- Dansal has a target of going ODF by March 31, 2018
New Delhi: Even a year back, Dansal block in Jammu bore a woeful sanitation picture, similar to many rural blocks in India. Individual household toilets in this block with around 10,000 houses in 59 villages were severely low in number and the total sanitation coverage numbered around 6 per cent. Open defecation was rampant in Dansal, as people had little or no access to individual toilets and had no option but to relieve themselves in the open. Today, the block boasts of sanitation coverage above 60 per cent and has already set a date of March 31, 2018 to go open defecation free (ODF). So what spurned this turnaround?
Taking the woeful sanitation scenario into account, the district administration under Block Development Officer Muktar Ahmed began a thorough implementation of the Swachh Bharat objectives. Throughout the first half of 2017, the district administration carried out a survey to identify which households did not have toilets. Along with the survey, the district administration also carried our regular programmes and events to increase sanitation consciousness among the people of Dansal. Special stress was given on how unhealthy open defecation is and people were given information on how defecating in the open resulted in widespread diseases. The district administration arranged for plays to be performed, which spoke in length about the importance of using toilets. Screening of movies like Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, poster designing contests with the theme of Swachhta further promoted the Swachh cause. Over 184 toilets were built in 5 months in a single village in the block.
Dansal today boasts around 60 per cent toilet coverage. Every village in the block has a complaint box installed, where villagers can drop in their complaints or suggestions to improve the sanitation scenario of a particular village. The district administration has also roped in women’s groups from Umeed Rural Livelihood Mission. Members of these groups work along the district administration to spread awareness on sanitation, as well as monitor whether the installed toilets are being used properly or not. Problems, if any, are present in the installed toilets to ensure a smoother transition to the much desired ODF status for the block. Around 4,000 toilets are yet to be built in Dansal, but given that the district has already carved out a deadline of March 31, 2018 to go ODF, the confidence of the officials is praiseworthy.
While several states have boarded the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan bandwagon, Jammu and Kashmir has remained largely aloof from implementing the objectives of the mission. The state’s rural sanitation coverage is at 43.95 per cent, second lowest nationally only after Bihar. 2018 is touted to be a turnaround year for the state and the ODF statuses of the districts of Leh, Kargil and Srinagar will be a major boost to the confidence of Swachhta workers in Jammu and Kashmir. Dansal will serve as an important example for Jammu and Kashmir and teach other districts of the state the model of awareness and community participation to follow to improve the state’s sanitation coverage.