Churu says yes to hy­giene

The dis­trict is all set to be­come the first in Ra­jasthan to com­pletely stop open defe­ca­tion. Will oth­ers fol­low?


THE DESERT state of Ra­jasthan has for long strug­gled with the prob­lem of open defe­ca­tion. Cen­sus 2011 says about 80 per cent house­holds in ru­ral Ra­jasthan do not have toi­lets.While the state’s san­i­ta­tion sit­u­a­tion looks de­press­ing, the story of one of its dis­tricts in­stils hope.

Churu,which is the gate­way to the Thar desert, is all set to be­come the first dis­trict in the state to boast zero open defe­ca­tion. The north­ern dis­trict plans to achieve the feat by Au­gust this year.

So what helped Churu re­alise this goal? A cam­paign the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion started in 2012 that was able to in­volve the peo­ple in the process. “The slo­gan ‘ Chokho Churu’ or clean Churu was pop­u­larised along with an in­tense aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign to change the san­i­ta­tion sce­nario of this dis­trict,” says Churu dis­trict col­lec­tor Ar­chana Singh. Three years later,the im­pact of the cam­paign is vis­i­ble. Al­most ev­ery house in the dis­trict has flush toi­lets and the peo­ple say open defe­ca­tion is un­think­able. “Open defe­ca­tion makes the sandy fields dirty and this harms our health,” says Gau­r­is­hankar, a res­i­dent of Lunas gram pan­chayat in Tarana­gar block,which was the first block to stop open defe­ca­tion. Just five per cent house­holds in the block had flush toi­lets till 1998.

Not an easy task

Churu wit­nesses tem­per­a­ture vari­a­tions from -5 in win­ters to 50 in sum­mers. The av­er­age rain­fall it re­ceives is just 343.74 mm an­nu­ally. And the ground­wa­ter has high saline con­tent mak­ing it un­fit

A dis­trict re­source group mem­ber in­ter­acts with the res­i­dents of Churu's Lunas vil­lage, which was the first vil­lage in the state to stop open defe­ca­tion

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