Towards a Healthier Future

Towards a Healthier Future
Photo: UNDP India

For the women of Soti Choki Pangro village in Sahibganj, Jharkhand, their newly constructed toilets have changed their lives. “We realized the meaning of dignity when we started using these toilets – we never understood it before,” said Bodo Devi and Gudiya Devi, the proud owners of these new assets. 

Hightlights

  • Many households have begun to benefit from newly constructed toilets with bathrooms via a two-and-a-half-year partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, the Government of Jharkhand and UNDP.
  • The initiative aims to improve the quality of water and rejuvenate the Ganga, one of India’s most important rivers, as it flows through the state of Jharkhand.
  • An additional goal is to provide livelihood opportunities for local communities by supporting self-help groups, training local people in various skills and connecting them to accessible markets.
  • Self-help groups in several villages have been mobilized and have even taken on the construction of more toilets, lining up projects for the future, such as building smokeless chulhas, composting pits and leach pit rings.

Bodo Devi and Gudiya Devi’s village is on the banks of the river Ganga. Years of open defecation and the absence of waste management systems has taken a toll on life in this area, adding to the river’s pollution and making daily life harder, particularly for women in these parts.

But the recent construction of toilets supported through a partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Government of Jharkhand is changing this. The 30-month partnership supported by the United Nations Development Programme aims to implement a series of measures to improve water quality in one of India’s most important rivers and build sustainable livelihoods in the state.

Motivated and enthusiastic, women of the village are now teaching their young children how to use the toilets. Unused to the simple luxury of having toilets in their houses, Maloti Devi and Chiriya Devi say, “We want our children to develop the habit of using toilets right from childhood.”

The partnership takes an integrated approach focusing on ensuring sanitation access to all people; empowering local communities to maintain and create sanitation facilities; and build sustainable livelihoods that rejuvenate the Ganga, revive agriculture and improve the quality of life in the area. An additional goal is to provide livelihood opportunities for local communities by supporting self-help groups, training local people in various skills such as masonry and connecting them to accessible markets.

Members of one such self-help group in village save around INR 20 every week. The women’s entrepreneurial spirit has inspired the group to take on the construction of more toilets. At present, the village has eight toilets with bathrooms, with the women agreeing to help construct the rest. Moreover, the group has already lined up projects for the future, including the construction of smokeless chulhas, composting pits and leach pit rings.

Prioritizing community ownership of resources aims to make villages economically self-sufficient.