Women - Wash Leaders of Today and Tomorrow
Today, with the facilitation of Stop Diarrhoea Initiative (SDI), urban slum ward named 59 Tijala road in Kolkata is noticing significant behavioural change towards creating the urban slum ward open defecation free (ODF). Twenty two house hold residents of the ward under leadership of dedicated local WASH committee led and managed by women members are committed to keep their ward ODF and maintain sanitation and hygiene within their ward.
Prior to SDI intervention, there was only one poorly equipped and deteriorating community toilet in 59 Tijala road urban slum ward, which even lacked basic amenities such as running water, electricity and appropriate drainage system. In this situation, community members were forced to defecate in open areas and dispose of child faeces in open drains. The community was also not having the understanding on how open defecation and poor sanitation lead to health problems for the children leaving them exposed to vulnerabilities of diarrhoeal diseases.
As part of the Stop Diarrhoea Initiative programme, series of community level meetings and one to one sessions were conducted on improved sanitation and hygiene practices on diarrhoea prevention and control. Sameena, resident of the ward got inspired and mobilized 13 other women of the ward to form the WASH committee. These women worked with the community members and sensitized them to take action on improving the sanitation situation in their community. With support from SDI the committee took the lead in renovating the community toilet. Committee members are not only encouraging and mobilizing community members to use renovated community toilet but also educating users to clean the toilet and bathing area after each use. The committee mobilized community to raise local funds for operations and management of community toilet. In the process, members of the group collected funds to buy toilet cleaning products and made practice to clean the toilet at least three times every month.
Women members are disseminating information and encouraging people to adapt improved sanitation and hygiene practices like safe disposal of child faeces, washing their hands at critical times, keeping their surroundings clean and safe storage of drinking water.
Empowered Communities Fostering Accountability for Delivering Improved Source of Drinking Water
Dosni, one of the remote villages with population of 1300 is located in the block Laksar of Haridwar district. Stop Diarrhoea Initiative (SDI) team initiated the process of community score card (CSC) with community members to understand the communities’ views on accessibility, availability and utilization of 7 point plan interventions. Community through the process of CSC identified scarcity of safe drinking water existing for long time in their village. Dosni village had a government piped water supply, but it was not functional for several years and communities were drinking water from shallow hand pumps which are not recommended for drinking as per standard government guidelines on safe drinking water. As a first step, SDI team interfaced community members with local elected representative (Pradhan) for restoring the government water supply.
Local elected representative and community members came up with the solution of renovating existing water tank connected with water taps at multiple local points for access to safe water supply. Elected representative suggested community members to take up the suggestion with district administration. Elected representative along with three community members with facilitation of SDI collated necessary paper work for taking up the issue with district administration. The community group visited local administrative office several times and demanded that the government to restore the government supply of drinking water. They visited drinking water and sanitation department and filed a petition which was signed by 150 community members. The initiative taken by people mobilized the administration to hear their petition. In a time frame of one and half month, the government restored the drinking water supply.
Empowered community members of Dosni village have demonstrated the effectiveness of CSC intervention in bringing together the demand side (“service user”) and the supply side (“service provider”) to jointly analyse issues underlying service delivery problems and find a common and shared way of addressing identified issues.
Community Managed Toilet - A Turning Point of Life for Women
Stop Diarrhoea Initiative proved to be a turning point of life for residents of hamlets “Gauridut Purwa” in putting an end to open defecation and provided an opportunity to especially women and adolescents girls to lead life with dignity. Gauridut Purwa is one of the 7 hamlets of Chaisar village, Payagpur block of Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the most backward hamlets with completely cut off from basic amenities – road, electricity etc. Most of the residents are daily wage labourers or have agriculture as an occupation on very small land holding. The hamlet has around 15-16 households with population of 80 people from OBC (Kumhar) community. Save the Children, under Stop Diarrhoea Initiative project, has constructed model Community Managed Toilets (CMTs) to promote the uses of toilets among the community members and strengthen the Swachh Bharat Mission to realise its goal.
Shakuntala, a resident of the hamlet, narrates that before the construction of CMTs they were living disgraceful life and practicing open defecation. She told that there were always restrictions on eating less and going to toilets after the sunset. Those were really hard days but now with the construction of CMTs those days have become past and now they feel proud.
The best part is that the community as whole and specially the women have realised the importance of CMT and its proper management.
The users of the CMTs have formed one user group to look after the issues pertaining to sanitation and regular water supply in CMTs. The user group members meet on monthly basis, discuss and take action on proper maintenance of CMTs. Initially the project has provided toilet cleaning items and soaps but now the users group are collecting small contribution from each house hold and buying the items to keep the CMTs clean. The group members in the meeting also discuss other health and hygiene issues like hand washing at critical times, immunization of children, community cleanliness etc.
Ambulance service benefitting people in Ambedkar Sangha slum, Kolkata
Ambedkar Sangha, is an area in Ward 65 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. This area is marked by the presence of huge tanneries employing thousands of locals. The waste materials of the tanneries block the drainage system and years of lack of any initiative of cleaning making it almost look like an area covered under the blanket of environmental pollution.
A community score card session was organized in a local club in the area on 8th February, 2017. The session was attended by 48 participants consisting of a mixed group of community people from the surrounding slums of clusters 102, 108, 120 of Tiljala road. The mixed group consisted of male, female and youths from the surrounding slums. The interface session was attended by a senior representative of Ward Councillor, Anganwadi workers, Honorary Health Workers. Prior to the interface meeting the community members jointly reflected on the status related to specific indicators related to local health and hygiene issues through the facilitation of the programme team of Stop Diarrhea Initiative. The indicator wise scoring and the analysis behind the scoring were shared in the larger group and discussed in detail. For the indicator related to information on referral services status, the community shared that they take their children to hospital their own. Sometimes, they do not get any transport services up to hospitals. This issue was discussed with the senior representative of ward councillor during interface session. He shared that the respective ward has already an ambulance service which was donated by an NGO which can be used by the community for taking their children to hospitals. He shared the contact numbers of the persons responsible for running the ambulance service, the place where the ambulance is parked.
This information was not known by any of the community participants prior to that meeting. Community highly appreciated the information shared by the senior representative.
Poor drainage conditions in slums improved in Ward # 65, Kolkata
Three slums in Kolkata viz. 102 Tiljala Road, 120 Tiljala Road and 108 Tiljala Road had poor drainage conditions. The condition gets deteriorated during the monsoon period and hence becomes a major source for various vector borne and water borne diseases. The issue was raised by the community during community score card session in ward # 65. Responding to this issue the senior representative of ward councillor requested the community people to approach ward councillor through formal appeal. Subsequent meeting led to a mass petition, which was submitted to the ward councillor by the local community and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene committee members. After consistent follow up, the treatment of the drainage system was initiated from first week of July 2017 by Kolkata Municipal Corporation. This work mainly involved cleaning of the pipes blocked by the tannery waste and repairing or setting of new pipes wherever required. The work was completed in September, 2017 and around 350 households have been benefitted by it.
Educating community members and care-givers on good health and hygiene
Anju, aged 32 years lives in G-Block, Jahangirpuri, Delhi and feels grateful to the “Stop Diarrhoea Initiative”. When asked about the impact that it has had for her and her family, her eyes filled up with tears, particularly when explaining how her child had been extremely sick with diarrhoea.
When the CHV of the partnering NGO working for the initiative visited her house and explained how to prepare and use ORS along with using Zinc tablets, she listened and administered it to her sick child. Anju reports how her child started getting better, and she could see how her own lack of knowledge on the subject may have resulted in her losing her baby.
Anju describes how all of her family members now follow good hygiene practices and engage in the use of proper hand washing with soap, after using the toilet and before eating.Anju is now also engaged in creating awareness among other family members and the community. Thanks to Anju’s enthusiasm and commitment to serve the community, she has been made a part of the “WASH Committee” of Jahangirpuri, Delhi.
Promoting Exclusive Breastfeeding through Community Based Interventions
Hasheen Bee, one of 21 ANMs who have received training from Save the Children on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and IYCF, was found to be extremely receptive and learnt the counsellingtechniques on a VHND for mothers of children under five years.
As Village Health Nutrition Days (VHND) is a platform for promoting the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and to offer counselling sessions for pregnant and lactating mothers. Ms. Shabe Noor, Community Health Volunteer for Shirsha, organised the counselling sessions on breastfeeding at the VHND in Amariya on 17th February, 2016 which was conducted by Haseen bee and the session was extremely effective and thanks to her dedication, and newly acquired counselling skills, mothers who attended the VHND understood the importance of excusive and early breastfeeding practises.
Haseen bee was also invited to take a session of the parent and SMC members in the junior schools in Sirsha, Amariya. She led from the front to orient the parents and SMC members on the importance of breastfeeding to reducing diarrhoea among children under five. Hasheen is our champion change maker at the field level and is very dedicated to the cause of bringing down child mortality in her sub health centre area.
“I shall not let any child die in my sub centre due to diarrhoea” she says.
Educating mothers about the importance of immunization and exclusive breast feeding
Arohi was also not properly breast fed from her time of birth. Her mother Suman was not aware of the importance of exclusive breast feeding within the first six months. Bapi Bhuiyan and his wife Suman Bhuiyan have a seven month old baby called Arohi Bhuiyan. They live in a slum in Kolkata. Arohi’s parents lost all the birth related documents which were given by the hospital to Suman just before she was discharged from the hospital. As a result of not being able to provide birth certificate or the discharge certificate, the Health Centres did not issue an immunization card to Arohi. Therefore, Arohi missed the scheduled immunisation that she was entitled to.
We came across Arohi through our partner during the monitoring and validating exercise on strengthening routine immunisation. To ensure Arohi receives age appropriate immunisations, Suman was advised to take any other related document given during antenatal check-up to the Health Centre. This has enabled Arohi to receive relevant vaccinations.
Her mother Suman was also made aware on the importance of breastfeeding, routine immunisation, diarrhoea prevention and treatment, the importance of clean environment, and handwashing. Suman is now not only aware of protecting her child from getting diarrhoea, but also helps spread the information with her friends in her communities.