Mangaluru: Following India’s announcement to be an ‘open defecation free country by 2019’, Mangaluru based NGO Anti Pollution Drive (APD) Foundation has kick-started a new initiative to build toilets for households and improve hygiene. Project Prathi Manege Shauchalaya (PRMS) was launched on 12 March 2019 after inaugurating the first toilet built by APD at a house in Kunjathbail.
Introducing the project, Melanie Rodrigues, a research scientist at Stanford University and the project convener of PRMS said, “After I came back from the US, I wanted to do something for the community and that is when I was made aware of this project of APD. More than a billion people defecate in the open while India contributed to 59% of the people. I’m glad to take part in this initiative so that we can provide higher hygiene standards to people in need.”
After launching the project Chief Guest Uday Nayak, Retired ACP Traffic, said, “There is a report that mentioned that about 4900 households in Dakshina Kannada district do not have toilets. Upon extensive surveying in the district, this number of households can receive individual toilets on the long run.”
Chandravati, the first beneficiary of APD’s initiative is an old lady who has been staying in Kunjathbail for the past two decades. “I have been living here for the last 20 years and my house was electrified just about a year ago while there was no toilet. I feel grateful to APD for their effort to build an outdoor toilet for me,” she said.
APD Founder and CEO Abdullah A. Rehman, who is also a member of the District Urban Development Centre (DUDC) which monitors the proper implementation of ODF schemes released the project brochures. “Although DK has been declared as an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district we still have several households without toilets. It’s important the government also initiates a drive to provide every household with toilet to improve sanitation and public health,” he said.
Arjun Rai, Director of APDF and Haron Fernandes, Chairman of Mangalore Round Table were the guests of honour. Team APD members Vanishree, Karl D’cunha, Rasmiya Sheik, Thanima Bekal and Dhanush Desai were present. Mahesh Nayak conducted the programme.
'Prati Manege Sauchalaya' is inspired by the Prime Minister’s dream project ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched by the Government of India. Eliminating open defecation by the 2nd of October 2019, Gandhi’s 150th birthday is one of the key aims of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. United Nations has also given a call to end open defecation globally by 2025.
Dakshina Kannada was declared open defecation free in 2017. However, a social audit report conducted around the same time stated that 4590 households in Dakshina Kannada still had no toilets. The social auditing was carried out in all 230 Grama Panchayats and 366 villages in the district. As per the report, Mangaluru taluk has the most toilet-less households (1421) followed by Puttur (875), Belthangady (836), Sullia (852) and Bantwal (579). The report further stated that 350 of the constructed toilet remains unused and 795 are shared among households. Thus, the problem lies not only in providing sanitation facilities to those without, but also ensuring that newly constructed toilets are utilized appropriately.
Open defecation and poor sanitation cause severe malnutrition in children, and susceptibility to diseases such as diarrhea, intestinal worms, typhoid, cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma, causing severe morbidity and mortality. Open defecation also poses a severe threat to the safety of women. Furthermore, most of India’s rivers contain water contaminated by faeces.
Role of APDF
APD Foundation will work with local government identify low income household which do not have toilets and construct free toilets for them. Initially we plan to reach out to families in and around Mangaluru. Later on we will reach other regions in Dakshina Kannada and coastal region.
The toilets constructed will be as per government / WHO standards. Construction of one such toilet in Dakshina Kannada costs approximately Rs 25,000. This would ensure an entire family access to a toilet for a lifetime.
APD Foundation will be funding this project through the generosity of individual and corporate donors. APDF has already identified sufficient number of donors to initiate a few projects. More donors will be approached in due course.
Along with toilet construction, this project will also focus on educating the beneficiary and the general target group regarding the importance of using toilet and safe sanitation.
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