Following the example of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a large-scale sanitation awareness and marketing drive has been initiated in the interiors of Gujarat.
In the last 18 months, more than 20 teams of students from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), studied a course in sanitation and toilet behaviour among people and have now submitted a set of suggestions to the state government to reach its ‘Swachh Bharat’ target.
Representational Image BBC
With an aim to end the practice of open defecation, the teams are now working with the Gujarat government to sell the concept of toilets to rural and tribal communities.
According to a government official, the state rural department has already accepted most of the suggestions given by the IIM-A teams.
According to this study, ‘worst violators’ are mostly men who are over 50, and they also oppose toilets the most.
Representational Image AFP
The study also looked at real life stories from countries like Cambodia and Bangladesh where successful campaigns against open defecation were run by getting community leaders to promote hygiene.
They also conducted ‘shameful walks’ in villages to show the villagers how defecating in the open caused diseases.
The study acknowledged that it is not easy popularising toilets among tribals as it was observed that they considered toilets as an encroachment to ‘home space’ in some villages.
To overcome the hindrances, students suggested that instead of ‘name and shame’, a ‘name and fame’ campaign can be conducted wherein people are honoured for using toilets.
They have already piloted a ‘star house’ project in 10 villages where houses with toilets would be marked with a star and honoured at the panchayat level.
They have also suggested that the government be more flexible in allowing local customisations and beliefs in the construction of these toilets and push companies to build toilets in these villages as part of their social responsibility.