The monsoons are celebrated across India, especially in the north as they bring the much needed relief from the summer heat. But several village communities, such as Mohammadpur Jharsa in Gurgaon, Haryana, are often victimised by these rains. It’s not just waterlogging, but the health hazards that come with it in the form of chikungunya, dengue and malaria, that pose threats to the well being of the people there. Despite the high prevalence of these disease, I realised upon starting my work in this community that neither sanitation nor cleanliness were initiatives being spearheaded by the Community or Municipal Corporation. Upon consulting with my team about the lack of self-sustained water sanitation programmes, I was informed that it was the villagers themselves who were responsible for dumping solid waste into the drains, which the Municipal Corporation was unable to effectively treat. I realised that the only way to circumvent this issue would be to mobilise members of the community to take initiative in the cleanliness of their own homes.
In my last one year of work in Mohammadpur, I conducted several meetings with the community’s leaders to discuss various sanitation-related problems, such as the unclean and broken roads and overflowing drains. In none of the meetings did the community leaders acknowledge their individual responsibilities in addressing their issues. The time had come for an external third party to encourage key stakeholders to stand and unite together for the sake of living in a clean community.
Swasti’s I2We Mohammadpur team facilitated several meetings with government officials and prominent community leaders. Through the meetings, community members were encouraged to visit and request collective actions from government departments. One such collective action included organising a sanitation drive in the community, an idea proposed by youth club members. The drive occurred shortly afterwards and witnessed strong participation from community members, including 50 youth club (YC) members, 30 sanitation workers, Resident Welfare Association (RWA) members, influential senior leaders and team Swasti. Within a few hours, mounds of solid and liquid waste were cleared across the village.
While people’s participation has reduced gradually since the drive, the torch bearers of the communities—namely the Health Facilitators and some passionate youth groups—have continued with cleaning of concentrated pockets in the community. In addition, the senior and young leaders of the community are regularly meeting to take up the matter with the Municipal Corporation with finding more sustainable solutions.
The Sanitation Drive is a powerful example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved when community members are encouraged to come together and maintain the place they call home!
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