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See Nitin Dhaktode's very nice aricle describing a village that became free from open defecation in Maharashtra

Blog Post1 min read

The paper, available here, mirrors several of our findings. It says,

Even after constructing toilets, planting trees, and cleaning the village, it was not easy to convince some people to use their toilets. Though there were enough toilets, some were not comfort able with using them at home, and continued to defecate in the open. An old man, Rajendra Mali, said, “Jithe khaycha thithech hagyacha! Aplychane tar honar nahi! Khana ani hagnya madhe difference asayla pahije na” (Where one eats, how can one defecate? I cannot do this! There should be a distance between the food and toilet).

The cultural team performed skits to create awareness about the health issues related to open defecation. The people found them humorous; some were convinced, but not all. Two activists came up with a new strategy to solve this problem and launched a “good morning campaign” (GMC). From 5 am to 8 am, a group with musical instruments walked to places where people went for open defecation, ostensibly for practice sessions. This worked like magic – in five days, everyone had switched to the use of toilets.

There are several other very valuable insights in the paper, such as the benefits of a working panchayati raj system, overcoming barriers such as caste, and the tools that can be used to make people realise the health benefits of stopping open defecation. In particular, it discusses the vision of Dr. Ambedkar which helped inspire the village to become free from open defecation. I can only say that more such initiatives should be carried out, and more such articles written. Thank you, Nitin, for writing this one!

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r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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