Ahmedabad, 15 February 2006 - “Sanitation is the first step to Godliness”, said Murari Bapu in his discourse to the people of Gujarat in a live telecast on 27 January 2006. Murari Bapu is a well respected spiritual voice of Gujarat and has a large following among the populace of the state. He had been specially invited to address the people at a State level conference organised in Ahmedabad, the state capital, jointly by the Government of Gujarat and UNICEF to promote Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC).
“Although Gujarat is one of the progressive states, it is sad that sanitation coverage is low”
The event was telecast live across all the 18,000 villages of the state with the help of Doordarshan Ahmedabad. District officials, Programme Managers and Panchayat representatives listened to several speakers, including Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, a well known cricketer and Member of Parliament and the Union Minister for Rural development, Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. The objective of the state level conference was to highlight the importance of sanitation at both household and village level and call upon officials as well as non officials to contribute to the success of the TSC by ensuring 100% access to sanitation at village/household level.
Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat said “Although Gujarat is one of the progressive states, it is sad that sanitation coverage is low” and he attributed lack of sanitation in the schools as one of the main causes for low retention of girls in schools. Mr Modi asked the Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly to utilise their grants to construct sanitation units in schools of their respective constituencies. Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu highlighted the importance of sanitation and applauded the impetus being given by the state to the implementation of TSC in the recent past. He appealed to all the elected representatives and communities to come forward and make TSC a people’s movement.
“Approximately 0.2 million children die every year because of diseases related to unsafe disposal of human waste and unhygienic behavioural practices at family level", said Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development. He praised the work being done by the state government to promote TSC in the state and assured full support of the Government of India in implementation of the programme. Mr Prasad also referred to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and emphasized on ensuring universal access to sanitation by 2015. A number of other dignitaries from the State, Ministers for Rural Development, Agriculture and Water Resources also addressed the audience to promote TSC in the state.
“Approximately 0.2 million children die every year because of diseases related to unsafe disposal of human waste and unhygienic behavioural practices at family level"
Gujarat is one of the most developed states of India with a higher than average per capita income; but it continues to lag behind in social sectors. There has been very slow progress in the field of sanitation. As per 2001 Census, rural sanitation coverage stands at a low 21%. Limited reach, availability of a less reliable delivery system, lack of awareness and commitment amongst community are some of the major constraining factors in increasing coverage of sanitation at the household level. Keeping these constraints in mind, Government of Gujarat (GoG) has embarked upon an ambitious programme of “Total Sanitation Campaign” to provide 100% access to sanitation facilities in the state by 2015. One of the key strategies followed by the TSC programme is to generate demand through innovative activities and building capacity of key functionaries for community action. UNICEF has been an active partner of the Government of Gujarat and continues to provide technical support for development of communication strategy, material and tools for capacity building.