Sathupalli and Dammapeta mandals' inspiring clean up effort

Seetha Gopalakrishnan
Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 12:51
Khammam district, well known for its collieries and scenic spots, has something interesting to offer on the sanitation front as well. Two mandals, Sathupalli and Dammapeta, were declared as 100% open defecation free within a short span after the launch of the Total Sanitation Campaign in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. 
Dammapeta was the first to achieve the feat. Inspired by the mandal’s success, Sathupalli soon joined in. All individual households had toilets while schools were equipped with both toilets and functional water supply.
Support at the grassroots level was insured by a participatory workshop conducted at the mandal level in 2000. Community level health workers, district project officials and field monitors got together and charted out a simple, fool-proof plan of action. 
Slick IEC
Skillful use of the information education and communication (IEC) materials available helped generate a genuine demand for toilets on the ground. Most of the IEC efforts in the district were low-cost. Emphasis was on individual personal contact rather than group meetings and poster shows. Direct contact helped get the message across in a clear manner. This is evidenced by the fact that over 200 villages came forward and volunteered to construct in their villages.
Continued support and guidance from the District Water and Sanitation Committee (DWSC) guaranteed the setting up of WATSAN Committees in all 35 Panchayats in both the mandals. School Education Committees were set up to spread the word about good personal hygiene and sanitation in rural schools. 
People friendly administration
At a time when the government machinery is viewed upon as ‘alien’ and the NGO sector as the ‘saviour’, Khammam’s district administration has something to be very proud of. The total sanitation drive in the district was carried out without the help of NGOs. District Projects Officials, village and mandal level committees and the village community rose up to the task and made sure that there was no dearth in expertise or funds to get the job done. 
Sathupalli and Dammapeta’s low cost methods have inspired several neighbouring mandals to make Khammam a clean, green and more importantly, an open defecation free district.