A small Muslim village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh suffered for many years from poor sanitary conditions that led to various diseases and escalated to deaths. With the help of DEHAT, a millennium campaign NGO partner, the women of the village pursued loans to construct toilets and improve overall village sanitation.
The 2009 Millennium Development Goals Report has stated that steep challenges remain in meeting the sanitation target. For the world to achieve basic sanitation universally, an additional 1.4 billion people will require access to toilets and latrines. The greatest challenge is in Southern Asia and in the next 5 years, leading up to 2015, the region will have to more than double the number of people currently using these facilities. In India, it is a question of motivating political will to release the allocations that have already been made through various government schemes.
Dismal conditions existed in the village of Shahpur Jot Yusuf of Bahraich district, tucked away in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Timely and pursuant intervention by Development Association for Human Development (DEHAT), UN Millennium Campaign partner, not only changed the living conditions of this village but went on to establish a model of alleviation in several others.
Shahpur Jot, a small Muslim village of 2300 people couldn’t even breathe clean air. Most of the houses were not provided with sanitation facilities. Those which had provisions for a toilet had to make do with dry latrines, which had no plumbing or sewerage system and were often built two or three feet from the kitchen. A manual disposal system was practiced in which, once or twice in every month, the waste would be cleared. As a result the stench became unbearable, diseases spread, intestinal and liver afflictions escalated. The worst affected were women of those households which had no toilets.
In Shahpur Jot, main livelihood is agriculture. The district head quarter, Bahraich is a few kilometers away and expansion of the city has meant reduction of the village land holdings. Land for the guava orchards and vegetables became sacrosanct and open defecation was prohibited. This caused tremendous suffering for the women who had no recourse to privacy.
A slaughterhouse in the precincts of the village choked all the drains and nullahs and sullied the water supply.
DEHAT motivated the villagers, mounted an awareness campaign and persistently lobbied with the panchayat and the district authorities to release funds allocated under various government schemes. As funds apportioned per toilet fell severely short, Self Helf Groups were created among the women. They were encouraged to save, take bank loans and raise the extra money required to construct toilets.
After years of hard work, Shahpur Jot not only has toilets in every household and a regular supply of drinking water, but has also been recognized by the Presidents Award in 2006.
Shahpur Jot was the start of a journey. DEHAT took its campaign and motivation techniques to sixteen other villages of the Bahraich district. Last year, all the sixteen villages received the President’s Award for achieving 100% sanitation. The unique aspect of this campaign has been the effort to channelize and release money from government allocated schemes such as Samagra Gram Vikas Yojna and the Total Sanitation Campaign. Using a ‘rights based approach’ the campaign believes that resources are present; it is a question of motivating the citizens to demand what is rightfully theirs