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Two Days, Two Workshops: How Swachhagrahis Met And Discussed The Importance Of ODF Sustainability And Behavioural Change

The workshops saw participation by several stakeholders from all over the country, working in the field of sanitation and have managed to sustain ODF statuses successfully

ODF Sustainability workshop
  • Two workshops on ODF sustainability and behavioural change were held
  • The workshops saw participation of many stakeholders from several states
  • Parameswaran Iyer said it could help learn from states’ approach to ODF

New Delhi: As 2017 nears its end, there are several takeaways for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to hail the year as a successful one in implementation of India’s national sanitation mission. With over 5 crore toilets built in rural areas and sanitation coverage reaching over 73 per cent, 2017 has been a successful year for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, though much remains to be done in the new year ahead. To ensure that the coming years are spell out equal success for the Abhiyan, arrangements are being made to spread further awareness among people about sustainability of open defecation free (ODF) statuses and importance of bringing in behavioural change. Two workshops were recently held which explored these two important aspects of sanitation, and saw large-scale participation.

An ODF Sustainability Workshop was held on December 19, which stressed on the importance of sustaining the ODF status for a village to ensure that open defecation does not relapse in a village that has attained the ODF status. While numerous toilets are being built under the Abhiyan, it is important that districts administration ensure that they are used and if a village or a district is declared ODF, regular monitoring must be done to ensure that the ODF status remains. The workshop was attended by dignitaries such as Nicolas Osbert, Head of WASH India, V. Radha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) and Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, MDWS. Throughout the sessions of the workshop, issues and challenges on ODF sustainability and their solutions were discussed.

“An ODF village should sustain its ODF status. This is an opportunity to learn from states and their approach towards sustaining ODF status,” said Parameswaran Iyer at the workshop.

The workshop saw multiple discussions with stakeholders such as state representatives, NGO members and development partners on how developing mechanisms can help in sustaining incentives as grassroots levels to sustain ODF statuses.

Behavioural change is one of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s core objectives, as behavioural change is what can prompt people to use toilets on a regular basis. This was the core thought behind the ‘Voices from the Ground’ workshop held on December 2017 at Delhi. The workshop discussed pivotal roles played by behavioural change in India’s sanitation scenario. Volunteers working in the field of sanitation partook in the workshop from all over India to discuss how behavioural change affects sanitation and what methods could be more effective to bring in such change. They also shared their experiences of making their regions ODF in a group discussion.

Teams of Swachhagrahis from Rajasthan, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh participated in the workshop, discussing some of the factors that dominate the process of behavioural change among communities. They also shared best practices with fellow participants at the workshop. Participants also presented their thoughts on behavioural change and what measures they took to make their villages ODF. The workshop was also attended by Arun Baroka, Joint Secretary, MDWS.

The arranging of such workshops not only brings together like-minded individuals, but also provides a utilisable platform for exchange of ideas on ODF sustainability and behavioural change. As India enters a crucial and challenging year for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in which the likes of Uttar Pradesh is scheduled to go ODF, such workshops can ensure that ODF statuses remain sustainable for households, in the longer run.

Also Read: No Haircut Or Tea For Those Who Do Not Use Toilets In This Open Defecation Free Rajasthan Village

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