May 2007: Jabarha village in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh is gripped with lliteracy poverty. Yet amidst all the grim socio-economic scenario, aray of hope shines.
A robust improvement in sanitation has metamorphosed the basic look of the village.
The central government has set a target of constructing a latrine in every house in all villages by 2012.With the implementation of the Total Sanitation Campaign, this tribal dominated hamlet nearly 100 kms from Dhar district headquarters, has gradually started learning the ABCs of sanitation. The first revolutionary step in this direction was the construction of a latrine in each of the 310 households of the village.
Like many traditional Indian villages Jabarha was almost untouched by modern infrastructural development. Open air defecation, uncontrolled movement of cattle, littering adjacent to water reservoirs---all the standard unhygienic characteristics were prevalent in the village.
But in the last four months the village has spruced up its 'hygiene quotient' and the residents have acquired a new sanitation vocabulary, all without any coercion. Each of the 310 houses has a latrine, a container has been kept outside each house to accumulate the garbage, the streets are without any stray cattle and the drains impeccably clean without overflow on the roads.
The campaign's reach was 8 percent in Dhar district in 2005 and has risen to 23 percent in 2007
In Indore district more than 75 percent of Below-Poverty-Line dwellers have constructed a latrine in their homes. In Seoni, Hoshangabad and Sehore this figure has touched between 50 to 75 percent.Sarpanch Ms Rajkunwar Jatav Jat maintains: "To bring such a change in four months time was an arduous task. The veterans of the village in particular had to be coaxed to give up the 'loti' habit and take to the new method."
Jatav Jat says that she took the help of children and UNICEF supported NGO Vasudha Vikas Sansthan to accomplish this mission. Enumerating the steps taken she said films were shown to the villagers highlighting the benefits of sanitation. "The school teachers were also roped in to make the parents and grandparents realise
the virtues of having a latrine at home. Even we – the village leaders - took up the broom and did not shy away from cleaning the roads. This motivated the villagers to follow suit."
UNICEF's Dr Sam Godfrey says it is nothing less than a revolution for social change.
Five village panchayats had been chosen in the Badnawar Janpad of Dhar District for the Nirmal Gram Puruskar this year.