Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, Oct 2, 2015: Until a few months ago, the community of Mathur in Mathur Panchayat of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu were just part of the 600 million Indians who still defecate in the open and are often plagued by disease linked to unsafe hygiene and sanitation. This is a village that practiced open defecation till 2010.
But that’s no more the case.
Mathur Chinna Colony of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu has 85 households and today each household has a toilet. No more open defecation for men, women or even children. Muthulakshmi of Mathur Periya Colony says, "For going to toilet, I no more have to wait for the sunset. I feel safe and secured about my daughter as well as I have a toilet at home now and of course it far more comfortable ".
As a part of its efforts of ensuring access to safe, water, sanitation and hygiene practices amongst the backward communities of different pockets of India, FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) facilitated two villages in Mathur Panchayat of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu to become free from open defecation. Through its intensive behavioural change communication campaigns, FXBIS further enlightened the communities in Mathur Periya Colony and Mathur Chinna Colony about issues concerning health and hygiene.
Broadly the community mobilization are done in two ways which follows the model that has health education and awareness, dissemination of knowledge though Information Education and Communication (IEC) in the form of posters, wall paintings etc. Behavior Change Communication (BCC) programmes and family counseling programmes helps in breaking the psychosocial barrier and myths and motivate towards the use of household toilets. Secondly, a model household toilet is constructed for one of the families in the village to demonstrate the functioning, usage and maintenance of the toilet. This process helped the community in proving and satisfying themselves that the household toilets are hygienic and not a burden to use.
"Even after the households had toilets built, the practise of using toilets by all the members did not get inculcated overnight. It was crucial to ensure constant follow-ups with the households. But once the community realized the benefits, the community members started promoting the benefits and encouraging other villages to construct toilets," says Yuvaraj Rao, Programme Officer, FXB India Suraksha.
Today Mathur Panchayat proudly stands as the role model for several other villages.