EXPERTS CALL FOR SUSTAINED BEHAVIOUR CHANGE TO ACHIEVE OPEN DEFECATION FREE STATUS FOR VILLAGES AND TOWNS IN RAJASTHAN
STATE LAUNCH OF “SWACHHTA HI SEWA: SWACHH YUVA DIWAS” IN
RAJASTHAN UNIVERSITY TO MAKE SANITATION A MASS MOVEMENT
Jaipur, Sept. 20: Experts participating in a half-day programme and students' rally at Rajasthan University here today emphasized bringing about a sustained behavior change in the local communities to achieve the target of making the villages, towns and districts Open Defecation Free (ODF) in Rajasthan. The harmful impacts of open defecation on people's health and children's nutrition highlighted during the event.
The occasion was the State-level inauguration of “Swachhta Hi Sewa: Swachh Yuva Diwas” at the Rajasthan University campus here during the programme jointly organized by UNICEF-Rajasthan Field Office and the university's Centre for Mass Communication (CMC). The Rajasthan Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister, Mr. Rajendra Singh Rathore, was the chief guest in the programme.
The event began with a massive rally of college and university students, which was flagged off by Rajasthan University's Vice-Chancellor, Prof. R. K. Kothari, at Manviki Bhawan. The rally wound its way through the roads in the university premises to reach the CMC building, where the participants witnessed a presentation by theatre artists on the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) process.
The programme marking the launch of the Swacch Yuva Diwas, with the participation of youths and students. The event organized at the Senate Hall in the university, where the UNICEF-Rajasthan Field Office Chief, Dr. Isabelle Bardem, CMC Head Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat, Vice-Chancellor Prof. R. K. Kothari and the Minister, Mr. Rajendra Singh Rathore, threw light on different aspects of ODF campaign and suggested the strategies for ensuring its success.
Dr. Isabelle Bardem said Rajasthan had made significant progress in the reduction in under-five-year children's mortality and drop-out of school-going children during the last ten years. Similarly, against the access of 27.3% households to sanitary toilets in 2012 in the State, 87% households have sanitary toilets built in the houses in September 2017, she pointed out.
Dr. Bardem said the ODF campaign had become a mass movement in Rajasthan with the government's support and the people had realized that the major underlying cause of disease and malnutrition was the habit of answering the call of nature in the open space and fields without regard to proper cleanliness. “Stopping open defecation will restore the dignity of women and protect them against harassment and sexual offenses,” she said.
Mr. Rajendra Singh Rathore affirmed that Rajasthan was making a fast progress towards achieving the ODF targets and said that six districts had so far been declared open defecation free, while ten more would be given the ODF status by December this year. “Of the 9,851 village panchayats in the State, 6,375 have been declared open defecation free,” he said.
Prof. R.K. Kothari said sanitation should be adopted by all sections of society as a habit, as the physical cleanliness had a direct connection with intellectual and spiritual cleanliness. Prof. Sanjeev Bhanawat spoke about the CMC's partnership with UNICEF for the last three years while pointing out that today's event had added a new dimension to the cooperation between the two institutions.
Mr. Rathore administered an oath of “Swachhta Hi Sewa” to the participants, and all of them took a pledge to contribute to making a new, clean and healthy India and dedicated themselves to the cause of cleanliness during the movement being taken up from September 15 to October 2 this year. A short film titled “The Dawn of Sanitation Revolution,” produced by UNICEF also exhibited and a UNICEF publication, “ODF: Journey of Rajasthan,” was released during the programme.
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Kalyan Singh Kothari