We live in the 21st century, the century of climate change. With the rise of the mean global temperature, the population of disease-causing vectors will also increase. These vectors, like mosquitoes and flies, are carriers of diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, chikungunya, dengue, etc. Open defecation is making the situation worse by helping in the spread of these diseases. Every year, more than 188,000 children die due to a lack of access to proper sanitation facilities.
India is trying its best to make ‘Swachh Bharat’ or the ‘Clean India’ movement a success. In this regard, the district administration of Firozabad formed a new model, the ‘Toilet Parliament’, to encourage villagers to use toilets and stop the practice of open defecation. This model is the brainchild of Prabhat Misra, Assistant Director, National Savings, Firozabad.
This new kind of democracy, ‘Sanitation Democracy’ or ‘Toilet Democracy‘ came about after the recommendation of Chief Development Officer Ashok Kumar and the approval of the then-District Magistrate of Firozabad Neha Sharma, who then implemented the model in Firozabad district.
Two top bureaucrats from the Modi government, the CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant and sanitation secretary, Parameswaran Iyer, traveled to Vajidpur village located in UP’s Firozabad on World Toilet Day, on November 19, 2018. They traveled nearly 260 km from Delhi, to empty a toilet pit and participate in the first-ever Toilet Parliament. The CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant and sanitation secretary, Parameswaran Iyer emptied a toilet pit in this village of Firozabad District.
The Parliament comprises villagers who have personal or government toilets, the village head, the village secretary, school headmasters, sanitary workers, ASHA and Anganwadi workers, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and retired government employees.
Members of the ‘Toilet Parliament’ work collectively and voluntarily to encourage villagers to construct and use toilets. The members act as ‘cleanliness or sanitation ambassadors’. Every week, they organise a ‘cleanliness drive’ to clean the village. Members are encouraged to cooperate with the ANM, Anganwadi, ASHA and government officials to cope with malnourishment, and also help pregnant women with access to healthcare. To ensure a clean and healthy society, members help in bringing about social and behaviour change. Women who are part of the parliament advocate for the use of ‘sanitary napkins’ by young girls and women in the village.
The ‘Toilet Parliament’ will contribute to the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and has is aiming to help the district administration declare Firozabad as an ‘Open Defecation Free’ District by October 2, 2019. It is a revolutionary sanitation step, appreciated by the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, based on awareness, education, and campaign. Shikohabad block has become probably the first block in India where every Gram Panchayat has a ‘Toilet Parliament’ This model is a ‘Citizens Action Group’, based on the concept of “United We can do & achieve”.
A twitter account, ToiletSansad, has been created to provide the latest information about the activities and achievements of the ‘Toilet Parliament’. This model will be helpful in achieving a clean society globally.
Note: This article was first published here