A shocking 560 million people – one in two of India’s population defecate in the open. Many have no choice but to face the indignity of going to the toilet in the open, where they are exposed to disease and vulnerable to harassment and even attack. This is a serious issue that can be hard to talk about.
So this World Toilet Day, WaterAid India used humour and music to get people talking toilets through our Sa Re Ga Ma Poo concert. We also organised an online It’s No Joke contest. People were asked to submit their favourite toilet jokes and the best jokes were highlighted at our public event. We got around 65 entries for the contest. Vikramjit Singh, a popular stand-up comedian, further highlighted the need of toilets for health through humour. For the Sa Re Ga Ma Poo concert, we collaborated with popular folk rock band Indian Ocean. The concert at Nehru Park, New Delhi was attended by over 1,000 people. Read more about the evening here.
In Delhi, two of our programme areas Safeda Basti and T-camp were declared open defecation free. Events were organised in both the communities where local MLA and municipal authorities awarded the community for their efforts and a street play was staged to make people aware on the need for toilets.
To mark World Toilet Day WaterAid India’s West regional office collaborated with Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Department of Education, Department of Health, Urban Local Bodies, Municipal Corporation and Women and Child Development Department in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to organise several events. The key highlight was the participation of a local MP or MLA in these events. The event in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh focussed on disability inclusive WASH structure and facilities. The Chief Guest for the programme was Abhishek Singh, MP, from the area. He emphasised on the need of appropriate policies, including the needs of people with disability. At Dhamtari, in Chhattisgarh, construction of a leach pit toilet was demonstrated at SBM headquarters so that people got clarity on technical aspects of toilet construction. Hathband in Kurud block of Dhamatari was declared open defecation free on November 19. In Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh (the event made people aware of the technological aspects of toilet. Community members were awarded for their contribution towards motivating people for constructing toilets. In Datia district of Madhya Pradesh, WaterAid India organised a three-day awareness event which culminated on World Toilet Day. On the last day, awards were given to members of ODF panchayats by Narottam Mishra, Health Minister of the state. Other activities included painting completion, essay competition and rallies. The regional office reached around 10,000 people through these events.
In Odisha, KIIT School of Rural Management (KSRM) in collaboration with WaterAid India and UNICEF organised an annual student’s conclave on the theme “Market-based solution with respect to water and sanitation”. There were five sessions which touched upon various aspects of water and sanitation. In Puri, a consultation was organised for proper implementation of school development plan and improvement of WASH status of schools and slums in the area. The consultation was attended by various stakeholders including SMC, WASH committees, Right to Education forum, government functionaries among others. In Jharkhand, a rally was organised involving 400 students of four schools to emphasise on the importance of toilets and its link with health. Other events included painting competitions, and discussions which involved community people and stakeholders.
In Hyderabad, our partner Basti Vikas Manch (BVM) organised a city-level peace march to highlight the pathetic condition of toilets in government-run schools in the district. The government schools in Hyderabad district lack basic amenities such as drinking water supply, toilet maintenance, drainage connection, and water supply for flushes to clean toilets. Around 200 people comprising of communities, parents, children’s and other like-minded individuals joined the protest. This was followed by a press conference where BVM submitted their demands along with the recent survey report on water, sanitation and hygiene conditions of 77 schools in the district. The survey showed pathetic conditions of schools which have no functional toilets or separate toilets for boys and girls, drainage connection and water. Other events in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana included awareness sessions with children, health centres and community members on the importance of toilets.
WaterAid India regional office in Lucknow and Bihar launched a week long campaign ‘Mera Sauchalaya Mera Swabhiman’ on World Toilet Day. The event kicked off in Lucknow with a rally where more than 700 children and community leaders participated. The rally was flagged off by District Magistrate Raj Shekhar. At the culmination of the rally CLTS members were felicitated for their role in ensuring clean communities. In Kanpur, the World Toilet Day Campaign was launched in collaboration with Kanpur Municipal Corporation. The event was presided by the Mayor of Kanpur city, Captain Jagat Veer Singh. Three slums in Kanpur, Sukhpurwa, Manohar Nagar and Ram Charan Ki Madhiya were declared ODF at the event. Similar kick off rallies were organised at Mahoba, Banda, Chitrakoot , Santkabir Nagar, Kushinagar, Samstipur and the campaign reached more than 12,000 people. Other events under the campaign included WASH chaupals, flagging-off of information van by municipal commissioner of Kanpur to raise awareness in more than 50 slums and 10,000 people. There were oath taking ceremonies, puppet shows and human chain formations. The campaign also reached district hospitals, primary health centres, schools and colleges sensitising people on the need for toilets.