In Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri District toilets are being constructed in hundreds
By Sangeetha Rajeesh
Vepanapalli Block, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu: Jingaloor was a village that did not have a single toilet until the UNICEF started its Child Friendly Village Planning programme. Santhamoorthy, Total Sanitation Coordinator of the Vepanapalli Block, tells us that the village now has 76 toilets.
Nasareen is busy with her daily household chores when we walk in to take a look at the toilet constructed, she recalls the embarrassment she used to face when using the open fields as a toilet. “We never had a toilet in our house before since we were accustomed to using the gardens and fields as a public convenience,” Nasareen says, a little embarassed, “However, now we realize the health hazards of open defecation and we are grateful to UNICEF and the village leaders for opening our eyes.”
Sixteen-year-old Noorshama proudly displays her new toilet to us. “Come and see,” she calls out, “we have a new toilet too!” The shy girl says she had to wait till it was dark enough to use the fields even if nature’s call was urgent. “It’s very difficult you know,” she explains, “because I had to wait for my brother or sister to accompany me.”
Nevertheless, now things have changed for Noorshama and her siblings. “We have been living here for generations and only over the last couple of months, we have heard talk of toilets,” comments fifty-five-year-old Sheik Gudu. “We did not know what a toilet is or how it will look, but we realized our folly when the volunteers put up a skit.” Today, most of the villagers have constructed a toilet in their homes thanks to the motivation and support of UNICEF.
Rohina, a village volunteer at Jingaloor tells us that she made a personal attempt to go house to house and canvas the cons of using a public place. The head of the village, Thanzumbi Akbar Basha says that out of the 280 house in the village, 76 have already built toilets in the last two months. “By the end of June 2007,” he says, “every house will have a toilet.”
As you enter the compound in Kumarapalli Village, you can hear Maragatham’s voice. She was taking a class of personal hygiene and cleanliness for the villagers. The class was in full strength with around 50 people, both men and women.
On the blackboard, Maragatham listed out the germs and bacteria that get transported by common fly. “The idea is not just to construct toilets for the villagers but to ensure sustainable use and maintain the toilets properly,” says Santhamoorthy, Total Sanitation Coordinator, Vepanapalli Block. Only three out of the 50 present had toilets in the homes with two of them using the facility.
To make certain that every villager both uses the toilets as well as realize the health hazards of using open public place, UNICEF conducts orientation training for village volunteers and also provides suggestions on constructing of different types of toilets and its use and maintenance.