Workshop on Scaling-up Rural Sanitation in Himachal Starts

Mrs. Rajwant Sandhu, Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Irrigation and Public Health has stressed the need to aware the masses about improved hygiene practices by entire communities including the use of sanitation toilets. She said that this could break the cycle of diseases transmission. Inaugurating the two days workshop on Scaling-up Rural Sanitation in Himachal Pradesh organized by Department of Rural Development, Government of Himachal Pradesh in collaboration with Water and Sanitation Programme South Asia World Bank here today, she said that Public Health outcomes could be achieved only when the entire community adopts improved sanitation behaviour.

Mrs. Sandhu said that through the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach, Himachal Pradesh has succeeded in creating Open Defecation Free Communities across various districts of the State. The State has nominated about 33 Gram Panchayats for Nirmal Gram Purasakar 2006-07, compared to none last year, she added. She said that recent studies of State wide sectors assessments in India shows that most people continue to defecate in the open not due to a lack of access to toilets, but primarily because they see no reason to change their behaviour as awareness of associated health risks are limited or ignored.

Mrs. Sandhu also emphasized for Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), based on the principle of triggering collective behaviour change. She said that this helps in creating a respective environment for the adoption of improved practices in personal hygiene, safe handling of food and water as well as safe confinement and disposal of excreta and waste.

Principal Secretary said that water should be checked periodically. She said that tests kits will be provided to the panchayat representatives for the purpose. She said that two schools in every block will be associated with the project and Science Teachers would be trained for water testing. Smt. Sandhu emphasized the need of rain water harvesting, so that the problem of scarcity of water could be addressed, for which, low cost techniques could be adopted.

Narinder Chauhan, Secretary, Rural Development, Government of Himachal said that some districts of the State performed exceptionally well. He stressed to accelerate the performance in the State to achieve the objective of becoming ODF rural Himachal Pradesh soon. He said that a key component of the new State Sanitation Strategy is a Reward Scheme to make awards to the cleanest gram Panchayat in each block, district, division and the State.

Rajesh Sharma, Joint Secretary, Rural Development briefed about the Status of Sanitation Campaign in Himachal Pradesh. He stressed for effective monitoring system, community motivation and behaviour change. He expressed hope that during the Workshop various issues would be discussed, which would help for effective implementation of the programme in the State. He stressed the need for management of liquid waste, solid waste and total waste in a scientific manner.

During two days Workshop participants will share their experience in implementing the Open Defecation Free Campaign, discussion will held on key issues, challenges on implementation and scaling up. Representatives from Haryana, Maharashatra and Madhaya Pradesh will also share their experiences of scaling up. Framework would be developed for scaling up and sustainability.

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