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Nadia is a rural district in the state of West Bengal, India. In 2012, around 40% of the district’s population practiced open defecation. This had a negative impact on the health of the community, with high rates of diarrheal diseases and malnutrition.
The Sabar Shouchagar (Toilet-for-All) Campaign
In 2013, the district administration of Nadia launched the Sabar Shouchagar (Toilet-for-All) campaign to eliminate open defecation from the district. The campaign was a collaborative effort between the district administration, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank.
The Sabar Shouchagar campaign focused on three key areas:
- Awareness generation: The campaign used a variety of methods to raise awareness about the importance of sanitation and hygiene, including community meetings, door-to-door campaigns, and social media.
- Toilet construction: The campaign provided subsidies to households to construct toilets. The district administration also worked with local communities to build community toilets in areas where there was a high concentration of households without access to toilets.
- Behavior change: The campaign worked to promote positive sanitation and hygiene behaviours, such as handwashing with soap after using the toilet and before eating.
- Within 18 months of launching the Sabar Shouchagar campaign, Nadia became the first open defecation free (ODF) district in India. This means that every household in the district had access to a toilet and that people were no longer defecating in the open.
- The Sabar Shouchagar campaign has had a significant impact on the health of the community. Rates of diarrheal diseases and malnutrition have decreased significantly. The campaign has also improved the quality of life for people in Nadia, especially women and girls.
- The Sabar Shouchagar campaign is a success story that can be replicated in other parts of India and the world. By engaging the community, taking a multi-pronged approach, and demonstrating government leadership, it is possible to eliminate open defecation and improve the health and well-being of people everywhere.