We regularly profile someone who we believe has been a sanitation driver, that is a person or an organization that have dedicated their time and energy to promote sanitation and hygiene for all. Everyone can potentially become a sanitation driver!
We would love to hear about sanitation drivers in your community. You can either share your own story as a sanitation driver with us or you can nominate someone who has been a leader in the effort towards ending open defecation and promoting sanitation.
This past April, Nadia was declared the first open defecation free district in India! Sabar Shouchagar has been campaigning to achieve this goal since 2013. Sabar Shouchagar has received numerous awards, including the United Nations Public Service Award in 2015. Their approach to realising an open defecation free district is being hallmarked as “an emerging and inspiring district level model for eliminating open defecation in India”.
After learning that over 30% of the population in the district of Nadia India defecate openly, and that neighboring districts in Bangladesh achieved less than 5% open defecation rates despite simiar socio-cultural contexts and less than half Nadia’s per-capita income, local administrators started taking notice of the issue. Following public forums with elected representatives and key interest groups, district leadership came together to launch the innovative “SabarShouchagar” (Toilet for all) movement on October 2nd, 2013. The new initiative was developed with the mandate to:
Sabar Shouchagar’s identifies the complexity of sanitation and behaviour change in strategic priorities. Their work plan was developed around strong monitoring and evaluation, mass community mobilization and participation (particularly of women, children, and faith based organizations), increasing the efficiency of sanitation services with innovation and building capacity, promoting partnerships, creating an enabling environment with policy and advocacy, improving access to sanitation and prioritizing equity, and finally, reforming financing for sanitation. For more detailed information read “An Approach To Redefine Rural Livelihood Mission March 2015 To Achieve ODF Nadia”.
This strategic approach, which ultimately addresses improving sanitation and ending open defecation through not only improving access to sanitation but also through behaviour change has seen great success. After just 15 months of implementation, 355,609 families have gained access to sanitary toilets, representing an increase in sanitation coverage from 60% to 97%, while 5.10 million people have been reached with behaviour change messages, and toilet use has increased from 50% to 95% of the population (for more information about program results take a look at this report).
Sabar Shouchagar’s approach to ending open defecation has shown great promise! With a solid proof of concept, this model can be used and adapted in other settings in support of realising toilets for all. For more information on Sabar Shouchagar check out their website: http://sabarshouchagar.in/index.php