The government has adopted an in-your-face approach to trigger public sentiments during village meetings
After asking people ‘directly’ to have toilets constructed and used did not create the desired impact, the state government has initiated this ‘explicit’ approach through which people are shown pitfalls of defecating in the open. It is a way of ‘triggering’ the public emotions during village meetings to encourage people to use toilets.
Surveys and meetings are conducted through master trainers trained by the panchayati raj department in all districts, under the Community-Led Total Sanitation Programme (CLTS). This is where villagers are made to realize that toilet is relevant. This is done by asking simple questions like “how much does a person excrete at a time”? And the options are given – 200gm to 400gm; 400gm to 600 gm; or more than 600gm. As most people answer 500gm per individual, then a family of five would excrete 2.5 kg of fecal matter at one time. Four families excreting that amount would come to 10kg of fecal matter being left out in the open. This way of answering has an impact on the villagers
Then follows a video clip made by the panchayatiraj department, wherein a master trainer is shown standing at the spot where someone defecated a few minutes ago. Villagers stand with their nose covered. The trainer asks the villagers, “Can anyone tell whose is this?” He asks for a glass of water and then asks a woman to give a strand of her hair. After putting the strand of hair in the fecal matter, he picks it up and puts it in the glass of water. He asks the villagers if the color or the odour of the water changes. People say no. The trainer then explains: “Legs of the housefly are same as this hair, it first sits on the excreta left by you and then on your food. And you eat it.” This is how the message is driven home.
The idea is to keep questioning people about their excreting habits. As villagers go on answering they themselves realize it adds up to a huge volume. If they still do not see its mound in the village, it means the waste is going somewhere. Where? That’s the point,” said state consultant, Swachh Bharat Mission, Panchayati Raj, UP, Sanjay Singh Chauhan.People, through sentimental triggers, are made to realise that they could be consuming their own fecal matter unintentionally.“We also ask villagers if the housefly falls in their cup of tea what do they do. They say they drop the tea. But what if the fly falls in a vessel of 5kg milk?” says Chauhan. Villagers say they take the fly out and keep the milk. And, that’s where the villagers are made to think they could be taking back their own waste.
In most of these `trigger’ sessions, many villagers vomit. And therein lies the success of the exercise. Villagers, while `triggering’, are not even asked to construct a toilet but it is through questions they are made to realize that constructing toilet is the best option. It should be constructed and used for health, convenience and privacy. Also, each one of them is asked how much time do they spend out in the open defecating for statistics.Questions are designed based on 13 tools that include aspects like `mahila ka samman’ (dignity of women) and other socially and environmentally relevant subjects.By end of the `triggering’ sessions, most villagers want to know how can they make their village open-defecation free. And it is then that they are asked to make and use a toilet.
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