NESFAS extends its ODF campaign in West Garo Hills
The NESFAS team with the East Khasi Hills District Water & Sanitation Mission (DWSM) conducted a program at Chandigre a small village in West Garo Hills for an orientation on open defecation free and total sanitation. The orientation is a part of a series, gearing up for the IMR scheduled for November 2015. The event also marks the key decision the six communities from Garo Hills have taken to become the NESFAS host communities for the IMR in fulfilling the total sanitation criteria necessary for a village to be one of the model villages in the festival.
Mr Kharkongor, interacting with the participants during the instillation of the commode
NESFAS believes that for a village to develop to its full potential, it needs to be sanitarily clean and open defecation free. This is also a vision shared by the DWSM, which explains the collaboration of the two in these series of events taking place in many Districts of the State.
Apart from Chandigre, five other villages, Daribokgre, Sasatgre, Ganol Sangma, Wakringtonggre, Rangwakamgre participated in the program held in a community hall at Chandigre.
The commode was built within one day
The orientation was conducted by Mark Kharkongor, District Coordinator DWSM, who demonstrated on constructing a low cost toilet model. The demonstration was preceded by a short briefing on the characteristics of the “right toilet” as Mr. Kharkongor kept on stressing. “Right toilet not wrong ones,” he said, while commenting on the so called “Kaccha” toilets being not as bad as they are painted to be, provided they fulfill the necessary conditions . “It matters not how much it takes to make them, but how you make them.”
In demonstrating to build a toilet, all that is needed is a porcelain commode and a PVC pipe. “This can be procured within three hundred rupees,” Mr. Kharkongor assured. A small plot of land was chosen to lay this archetypal toilet. Mark doesn’t support the idea of detailed measurements and professional accuracy in contracting the pit and the platform. When asked, he said that it would give an impression that only skilled masons can built something he is showing, while he wants people to know that even housewives can do it too. He outline the importance of the construction of the pit is the first priority of anyone to wishes to built the ‘right toilet’, he stated. “Most people built the room first, sometimes with tiles and modern fancies. It is not important, you can do all that later”.
The various participants attending the practical training at Chandigre
The toilet was built within an hour with the community members lending hands and asking questions. “We never knew it would be that simple,” says a bystander, R. Momin. “It is all in our hands now, we can take this forward and make our villages role models for the surrounding ones too.”
It needs to be mentioned that the village of Chandigre was once an ODF village back in 2011. However, unable to keep up with the standard with the emergence of new households, the village was eventually stripped off the status. Mr. Nokma, Kitston Ch Marak of Chandigre thanked NESFAS and the DWSM initiative and said, “The village will once again achieve the ODF status and be the host village for the upcoming International Mei-Ramew (IMR).”