f Bilaspur PHED.
Within 20 days the village was declared a 'Nirmal Gram' (clean village) - achieving total sanitation by virtue of using toilets and the sarpanch was awarded by district authorities.
Kaushik, in his capacity as sarpanch of Bahtarai village, of which Dabena is a dependent village, decided to bring about a change there as well.
A meeting was called with special emphasis for women to attend - the logic being that women as caregivers are responsible for the cleanliness of the home, family and community. A resolution was passed that anyone found defecating in the open would be fined Rs.50 and those exposing defaulters would get Rs.25.
"The move was an effective deterrent and we collected Rs.750 in fines," claims Mithulal Devangan, former sarpanch.
The sanitation campaign made inroads into the community with the support of NGO Jan Vigyan Sanrakhan Samitee, which focused on information, education and communication (IEC) activities using folk media like Kala Jhattha groups, women's self help groups.
In the Kala Jhattha, young men and women dance, sing and perform skits based on seven components of the campaign - community, sanitation, safe drinking water, personal hygiene, school sanitation, solid and liquid waste disposal and individual household toilets.
"They are the best means through which we can enter a village and they draw crowds immediately and spread the message," said Debnath Mukherjee, district programme coordinator.
For Tulsi, a Kala Jhattha performer, the experience has been enriching. "Before I began to spread the message of sanitation through dance and song in several villages, I was an illiterate village girl myself. The campaign has taught me so much about personal cleanliness," she confesses.
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