Narmada Swain, a 23-year-old local volunteer, to ensure her panchayat becomes Open Defecation Free (ODF) —has been working in Golamundala village Ganjam district of Odisha under the Swachh Bharat Mission since March 2018. “We were entrusted with the task of making sure that people are encouraged to construct toilets and actually use them. In 2014, my village had only 50 households with toilets out of the total 400 households, but now, all households have toilets and are using them,” Narmada said.
Narmada told that after being trained as a volunteer under Swachha Bharat Mission, she went to the households which were uncovered and persuaded them to construct toilets. She also explained them about the health hazards of open defecation. Now her village has 100 percent toilet coverage. However the journey was not as smooth as it seemed to be. People who had constructed the toilets still did not shun open defecation. Local administration had to think of some different methods for warding off this menace.
Ganjam village was also infamous for a strange local practice called “Ganjam Salute”. People used to line up along the roads to defecate. Whenever lights of the vehicle flashed, they would stand up one by one mimicking salute for the outsider. Then the administration decided to take help from women SHGs. They used to plant tulsi and make rangolis alongside the roads which became a trend in other parts of the country as well. "Women helped to magnify the movement and acted as harbingers of change. We targeted many vulnerable areas to change the mindsets of the people,” says Gokul Maharana, district project coordinator, Water Sanitation Mission, Ganjam.
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