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Where Children Lead the Sanitation Drive

dynamic leadership of the sarpanch (village head) supplemented the efforts in both the villages. The sarpanch of Markamtola, Bhubaneswari Devangan, has been at the forefront from the very start of the campaign.

"Even when we brought the material for construction of latrines, people would refuse to identify the place for putting them. But we persevered, organising rallies and holding panchayat meetings until the message seeped in," she said.

Not one to let her guard down, even today Bhubaneswari randomly checks houses to see that toilets are used and kept clean. She is also in constant touch with teachers and health workers to monitor the smooth continuance of the programme.

J.K. Sharma, an executive engineer with the Public Health Engineering Department of Rajnandgaon, said the total cost of the programme in his district is Rs.200 million, of which 15 percent (Rs.30 million) is allocated for Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities.

"The cost of the latrine has been lowered to Rs.625, of which Rs.500 is subsidy and Rs.125 is contributed by families living below the poverty line. For families above the poverty line, the cost is Rs.1,500 of which the beneficiaries pay Rs.600," he said.

Sharma said the future thrust of the campaign in the district would be on hygiene communication with greater involvement of teachers and the Red Cross.


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