Access to safe and hygienic sanitation facilities is imperative for a healthy life. Our country is slowly emerging as the next superpower, yet the archaic practice of open defecation still continues at an alarming rate, especially in remote rural areas. One such village is Saunda in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where septuagenarian Hameed Ramzani lives with his wife in a kacha house (mud house). Hameed worked hard all his life but was not successful in constructing aÂ pucca house (built with stone, brick and cement) for himself and his wife. His earnings were barely enough to make two ends meet. In this scenario, constructing a toilet at home seemed like a distant dream. The practice of open defecation is accepted in Saunda village as majority of the villagers do not have toilets. It is inconvenient for them to openly defecate but not a matter of shame since they have no choice.
Advancing age and deteriorating health due to acute asthma has rendered Hameed bed-ridden. Going out to defecate started becoming a huge challenge for the old couple, especially when weather conditions were harsh. Hameed’s family failed to make it to the list of households where toilets would be constructed by the local administration under the government’s scheme. Disappointed and with no alternative, they had to continue openly defecating.
HDFC-Ergo in partnership with CAF India launched a project called GaonMera under which Saunda village was included. Social and Development Research and Action Group (SADRAG), a CAF India validated NGO, was selected as the implementing agency for the project, through which households like Hameedâ€™s were identified in consultation with the village administration. One of the activities of the project was to construct 50 individual household latrines to the most needy households. The larger aim is to ensure that the village attains Open Defecation Free Village (ODFV) status.
The team from SADRAG visited Hameed’s house during the survey to observe, understand and to verify the reasons for not having a toilet so far. The team was convinced that his household was eligible for the grant. The construction of the toilet was initiated immediately and soon, Hameed and his wife had a toilet of their own at home. Their most basic need was finally met and now the old couple can defecate in dignity and maintain good health and hygiene.
Social and Development Research and Action Group (SADRAG) is a CAF India validated and supported NGO, aided by our corporate partner HDFC-Ergo under our CSR initiative.