Rural Water and Sanitation

World Warer Day 2020: How Churu built toilets much before the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission

Learn how Churu built toilets much before the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission

Published: Sunday 22 March 2020

This is Baniyala panchayat in Churu district of Rajasthan. Baniyala has been in news for achiveing ODF (Open Defecation Free) status recently. This is a remarkable feat for rural rajasthan where,  according to the 2011 census report, nearly 80 per cent of households in rural Rajasthan did not have toilets.

Amidst the grim picture, Churu district administration in Rajasthan led by then District Collector, Rohit Gupta, started a campaign in 2012. The campaign was named ‘Chokho Churu’ which means clean Churu and was to stop open defecation in the district.

The project was carried out in three phases. Taranagar block was picked in the first phase. In the second phase, Sardarshahar, Churu and Rajgarh were picked and in the final phase, Ratangarh, Sujangarh and Bidasar were picked.

Rather than opting for a typical top-down approach for pushing a government programme, Rohit Gupta decided to directly approach communities and involve them in the campaign. Churu has 263,052 families in 254 Gram Panchayats, out of which 129,222 were without toilets.

The campaign was based on ‘Community-led total sanitation’ model. Involving the community on a large scale was the key to success of the campaign. The district administration formed multi-tier teams right from the ward to district level to carry out the awareness campaign, construction work and quality monitoring.

A 39-member district resource team comprising government officials and non-profit volunteers was also formed. The group visited all the panchayats in the district and spent at least two days sensitising communities on the need of toilets. The district administration also trained local masons to build toilets.

The administration did not hire any external agency to construct the toilets. The strategy was to involve people directly so that they had a sense of ownership and built toilets themselves. The government paid the subsidy to the owner directly through bank transfer.

Further, the progress was monitored at panchayat level with a weekly meeting of the stakeholders, fortnightly meeting at block level and a monthly meeting at district level. A nigrani committee was formed in every panchayat to monitor and ensure that people use the toilets built.

A total of 129,222 toilets were built. About 69,851 families received government incentive while 59,371 families built their toilets without government support. Churu was declared ODF on August 21, 2019.    

Baniyala was one of the first Gram Panchayats that took the campaign seriously and became the first Gram panchayat in the district to be declared ODF. It was proud moment for the people of Baniyala. The district administration rewarded the efforts and took out a procession to celebrate the achievement. They also invited other Sarpanches from the district to the event to showcase Baniyala's example to them.  This motivated others to follow the lead.

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