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Shivpuri: Using ‘shame’ as an emotive weapon

In Shivpuri, among the 10 project villages, two panchayats have received Nirmal Gram Puraskar for being open defecation free. Thanks to the Community-led-total-sanitation-program (CLTS), villagers have been empowered to use toilets and maintain hygiene.

Counselling and creating awareness has paid off and today the villagers no longer follow the practice of taking a ‘lota’ (small utensil) and heading for the forests – instead, they use the community toilets which they use and maintain with pride.

With members from government departments (PHED, TSC, Tribal Welfare), health workers, NGO participants and the community working in tandem, the power of partnership came to the fore here. The primary focus was on breaking oral faecal chain but this was integrated with all other aspects in the development chain such as quality and availability of water, grassroots advocacy, hand pump repair, women groups and adolescent health and school hygiene education.

Some very drastic triggers were used. “Shame was a very powerful emotion that we used with good effect,” says Maria Fernandes, a WaterAid official. For instance, the villagers were taken to the area where the faeces were lying and were shown that how flies are related to open faeces. Then the community was asked to bring food from their houses. The CLTS speakers brought faeces to the place and dipped a hair plucked from a villager’s head in the faeces and then in a transparent glass of water. They then asked the villagers to consume it. The villagers were surprised and shamed.

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