Sanitation more important than independence

Gandhigram Trust, Dindigul and Arghyam, Bangalore co-hosted a Sanitation Partners' Meet on November 9-10, 2017 at Dr Soundram Manimandapam, Gandhigram Trust, Gandhigram.
Sanitation Partners' Meet, Gandhigram Trust
Sanitation Partners' Meet, Gandhigram Trust

Gandhigram Trust, Dindigul and Arghyam, Bangalore co-hosted a Sanitation Partners' Meet on November 9-10, 2017 at Dr. Soundram Manimandapam, Gandhigram Trust, Gandhigram. The meeting was attended by various NGOs from across the country, the district collector, the project director of DRDA and block level officers. The objective was to discuss and share different approaches and challenges related to promoting sanitation in different geographic and socio-economic contexts.The meeting gets inaugurated.

The meeting that started on November 9 was inaugurated by Dr T.G. Vinay (IAS), the district collector of Dindigul by lighting the kuthuvilakku in the presence of other dignitaries like Jayamala Subramaniyam, CEO of Arghyam, Bangalore and Sri K. Siva Kumar, secretary, Gandhigram Trust. Introducing the activities of Gandhigram Trust in sanitation and water, Sri K. Sivakumar said, “Gandhiji said sanitation is more important than independence. We, in Gandhigram, have taken the vision to improve the sanitation and sanitary methods. Three decades before, our founder Dr Soundram had made two villages in Vadipatty block 100 percent open defecation free.” 

Jayamala Subramaniam said that Arghyam's interest has always been in what happens pre- and post-toilet construction and not in the investment of the physical infrastructure alone. “While solving the problem of open defecation by building toilets, we should be mindful about the faecal waste management to avoid groundwater contamination," she said adding, “proactive district and local administration have been key enablers in achieving effective sanitation.” 

Dr T.G.Vinay IAS, district collector, Dindigul, speaks at the occasion.

Dr T.G.Vinay emphasised the importance of accelerating the universal sanitation coverage. He said though the Swachh Bharat Mission is making access to functional toilets possible, the challenge now is bringing about a behaviour change among people--from open defecation to using toilets. “We are addressing it and making efforts to initiate the change,” he said. 

Valedictory address by Nirmala IAS.He explained: “We have taken the initiative by mobilising several active women, SHG leaders, panchayat-level federations to act as community resource persons to motivate and promote the construction of toilets and their usage. Another issue is the lack of individual space in the houses. The option is in building community toilets and public toilets. Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in integrated women sanitary complexes since 2001. In all panchayats, one integrated women sanitary complex has been constructed. With respect to the construction of toilets and sanitation, we also need to work on the provision of adequate water in all rural areas.” He, however, said that sustaining the open defecation free status is a challenge since most toilets fall into disuse during droughts. “Sanitation and clean, hygienic environment in rural areas can be a reality. We should bring in the right perspective to solid and liquid waste management so rural areas will be more hygienic and we can achieve a healthy society through our efforts,” he added.

Giving the valedictory address, Nirmala IAS, chairman of Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights appreciated the efforts taken by the participants. She also mentioned that right emphasis should be on putting the toilets to use. She expressed her concern about the nonavailability of toilets, especially for girl children in schools, and wished the NGOs would look into it. She also appreciated the efforts under the WASH Programme.






















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