Started in 1991, the successful West Bengal Sanitation Programme is now serving as a global model for developing countries.
The programme, which began in the Midnapur district, has demonstrated that remarkable improvements are possible in household toilet coverage through a decentralised, community-based system.
The creation of easily accessible rural sanitary marts where low cost sanitary products could be purchased was an innovative strategy implemented in every block of Midnapur district. Managed by NGOs and supported by local government and UNICEF, these marts have played a major role in empowering women, who usually run them.
Strong state and district level political will has put the sanitation programme high on the development agenda.
With 100% coverage, Midnapur has inspired other districts in the state , such that, the overall sanitation coverage in the state is 65% , well above the national coverage of 32%.