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