We’ve been working with the Government of Odisha to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for communities in 15 nutritionally vulnerable districts, through a UKAid-funded programme. In April 2014, Girja Tola was declared the first open defecation free (ODF) village.
Girja Tola is situated 20km from the township of Rourkela in Sundargarh District. DFID Technical and Management Support Team in collaboration with the Rural Development Department of Odisha decided to focus on this area as suggested by the District Water and Sanitation Mission to create an ODF environment through the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. An external agency was hired to promote sanitation in all the villages in the area.
Kuarmunda was chosen to be the first block to have a five day village volunteers/facilitators training on CLTS. Through this, the community realised the health hazards of open defecation and felt the need for safe disposal of human excreta. This resulted in the construction of 29 toilets.
The first toilet was built on the fourth day of the training programme which started a sanitation revolution in the village. The community watched with excitement at the simple technicalities in the construction of a toilet. An experienced community member from the state of Chattisgarh supervised the building work. Women of the village took leadership in ensuring that their small village became ODF within a given time frame.
This was truly a community-led initiative, with all the funds contributed by individual households. It was a moment of pride for the entire community and they celebrated with a festival when they were given the ODF status.