The Simhastha Kumbh Mela is a religious gathering that will take place on the banks of the river Kshipra in the city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh from 22 April to 21 May 2016. Over 50,000,000 people are expected to attend the Mela in Ujjain over the month.
Given the huge influx of people over a relatively short period of time it will be a challenge to ensure that safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) will be availed by all the visiting pilgrims. A key concern will be the possible prevalence of open defecation around the areas where pilgrims will be staying in large numbers if the toilets provided are not sufficient to cater to the demand. Another area of concern is possible lack of awareness on maintaining adequate hygiene to prevent outbreak of any diseases.
We have partnered with the Mela Organising Committee with the support of Ujjain Municipal Corporation and the Madhya Pradesh (MP) state government to ensure that WASH is a priority at the Simhastha 2016 through a range of interventions.
WaterAid India has set up a bio-digester toilet technology at the community toilet in the Dani Gate area in Ujjain. Till now the community toilet was using septic tank technology and could overflow due to high usage. Since the toilet complex is very close to the river Kshipra, bio-digester toilet technology was felt to be the ideal option as the effluent is much cleaner. The toilet contains 12 male and 8 female seats with a bio-digester in each section respectively. The technology will take care of all faecal sludge and keep the area clean and odour free.
Thirteen balloons, which will be lit up in the night, have been floated near the toilet complexes to guide people to the nearest toilets. We have also set up one stall and canopies and display walls at 13 entry points to the Mela areas to disseminate information on various aspects of WASH and the work done by WaterAid India. A street theatre group will also perform short interactive skits at the different Mela sites over the period of the Simhastha to engage and inform the visiting pilgrims on issues of sanitation, hygiene and the link between WASH and health.
WaterAid India will also set up a ‘Loo with a View’ toilet. The toilet has a one way mirror door through which the person inside using the toilet can see outside – whilst to those outside, the door appears as a mirror and they’re unable to see in. The toilet, we hope, will provide a small sense of what life is like for the 2.5 billion people across the world without a safe and private toilet.
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