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Meghalaya scripts sanitation success

- State tops in community participation

Shillong, Feb. 7: What can the rest of India learn from this hill state? How to achieve total sanitation through community participation.

Till 2009, prevalence of unsafe toilets, fixed-point defecation, supply-driven, department-driven, top-down approach were practised, but only to be termed as “unworkable”.

However, from 2009 onwards, the Meghalaya government, in partnership with Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP), adopted a community-led and demand-driven decentralised approach targeting collective behavioural change at community level vis-à-vis earlier individual household levels.

The approach shifted to strengthening institutional set-up, capacity building of the district teams and inducing behaviour change by incentivising the outcomes reinforced with community monitoring.

In view of these measures, the toilet coverage (safe toilets) in rural Meghalaya increased to 71 per cent as on December 2013 from near nil figures of 2004-06.

West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi attended a three-day international conference on rural sanitation, which commenced on Wednesday, in Jaipur, Rajasthan where he highlighted the success, which came about after inducing a “behavioural change” towards sanitation.

In the three-day brainstorming and knowledge sharing forum organised by the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank, Bakshi said representatives from Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Uganda, Tanzania and states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka participated. The topic of discussion was “What works at scale? Distilling the critical success factors for scaling up rural sanitation”.

Bakshi presented the Meghalaya success story on the topic Total Sanitation Through Behaviour Change in Meghalaya, which focused on the success achieved by the state in collaboration with the WSP, for accomplishing total sanitation on a mission mode with a community-led total sanitation mode.

In the last edition of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (earlier known as Total Sanitation Campaign) in 2011-12, West Garo Hills, with 216 awards, had secured the highest number of Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) in the country with East Garo Hills finishing in 15th spot at the national hustings. That year, Meghalaya received 365 NGPs.

This edition (2012-13) of the NGP is also to be dominated by Meghalaya wherein 768 villages have been cleared out of 1,231 after inter-district verifications — again the highest in the country.

In the current edition, West Khasi Hills is all set to be among the toppers in India with 265 villages lined up for the NGP. It is being closely followed by West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills. The final figures will be declared after the final verification by teams from the Centre who will visit for sample verification.

Till 2013-14, there are a total of 2,40,871 household toilets already constructed, taking the coverage percentage to 71 per cent from nil figures in 2004-06.

A success story of insurgency-affected East Garo Hills entitled Delivering Sanitation Under the Shadow of the Gun of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan has been brought out in the WSP’s compilation of success stories across the country.

Bakshi said the Centre and state governments of Assam and Jharkhand have invited Meghalaya for knowledge-sharing and documentation on total sanitation campaign.