ITC’s Health & Sanitation Programme - Making Villages Open Defecation Free

By auther pic. Jyoti

July 26, 2019

ITC’s Health & Sanitation Programme - Making Villages Open Defecation Free

Women and children of the communities made ODF by the positive intervention

Open Defecation is a critical social failure in India. It degrades individual dignity and endangers national health. Poor hygiene awareness and the inability to afford toilets are the root causes. The lack of social solidarity blocks change and it affects women and children the most.

‘There were no toilets, we had to go outside. There were difficulties in going out. There were many men around, how to go and come? We kept hearing all the time of what happened to girls, in this village or that village. We were always tensed and lived in fear.’ – says one of the woman representative from the village ITC implemented the initiative.


A toilet constructed for community use as part of ITC’s Health & Sanitation Programme

Promoting Household use of toilets –

ITC’s individual sanitation programme is active in 16 states of India. Working among economically weak, urban and rural communities, ITC is helping them to become Open Defecation Free. The programme uses household toilet ownership as the incentive to change family behaviour and mobilizes women’s group as the prime movers.

In Munger district in Bihar, ITC started implementing the program in 2014. A public awareness campaign against Open Defecation highlighted the threat to health and loss of dignity. Economically weak families who wanted toilets were identified through participatory rural appraisal. ITC offered these families an instalment plan for toilet ownership. Individual families paid 45% of the cost of Rs. 18000 for building the toilet; a down payment of Rs. 1500 followed by 16 instalments of Rs. 400 each, ITC subsidizing the rest.

As demand for toilets rose up, ITC organized trainings for masons to build them.  Women from 6-8 families formed joint liability groups to manage the building of their toilets. They made sure families pay instalments on time and maintain regular use and maintenance. Paying for their own toilets ensured continual use and curbed open defecation.

Groups of women kept vigil at open defecation sites to dissuade people from using them. As toilet ownership spread, entire villages became open defecation free. Behavioural change starts at home and it’s the women who showed the way. To enable toilet ownership for the marginalised communities of Mirzapur, ITC mobilized all the villagers. Living on the rocky hillside, they put in the labour and built 74 toilets and soak-pits in 15 days, making a handy income from their labour.

Sri Rameshwar Pandey, Deputy Development Commissioner, Munger says, - ‘This ward, where all residents are from the Scheduled caste community has become Open Defecation Free.’

ITC continues to make more villages ODF and is committed to making community hygiene integral to inclusive economic growth. It works in alignment with the local district authorities and adheres to the goal of Swachh Bharat Mission.

One of the beneficiaries of the initiative says – ‘Our illnesses came from filth, with filth gone, illness is gone. We are saving on medical costs. That’s the biggest benefit of building the toilet. We are healthy, our children are healthy, and the village community is healthy.’

Working in partnerships with socially weak communities, reaching out to marginal sections, ITC is transforming lives and landscape across India. Over 33,000 low-cost, family-owned toilets have been constructed across 16 states under the initiative.


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Also Read: General Mills Gives Back to the Community through Child Nutrition Initiatives


Jyoti, a post graduate of International Business, is working as a Senior Analyst Communication in NGOBOX and CSRBOX. A resident of Ahmedabad, she likes to spend her weekends in solitude by reading, with a steaming cup of coffee to give her company.


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