Dr. Sharmila Chhotaray
Department of Sociology, Tripura University, Tripura
Dr. Sharmila Chottray, Challenges for the Total Sanitation Campaign in North East India|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-8KGHtVY6w
The paper sets out to examine the challenges for the Government initiated ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’ (TSC) in Tripura, in reference to more rural areas which from a sociological point of view is a neglected research area so far. Largely by means of study reports and situational analysis, this paper aims at evaluating the challenges for the giant flagship sanitation program of the Government which promises a clean and healthy environment not only for the urban centers but also the backward villages of Tripura.
As per many reports from the field, Tripura, as a comparatively small state, has achieved major success in different component-wise TSC objectives, having a ‘better mindsets of people and care’ for health and environment than several other states. Tripura´s high literacy rate and the decentralization of powers to local centers have contributed to a high percentage of sanitation coverage through building rural sanitary marts, school sanitation, household latrines and establishing hygiene education.
While government reports project their TSC success stories on rural territories as well, field work and local inquiries can reveal an entirely different social reality. East-Wind Communications (EWC), a private group based in Agartala, has evaluated the program of the Sanitation Department of the State Government researching the cases of seven tribal-populated villages located in three of the 16 blocks constituting West Tripura District (Mandai, Lefunga and Hazamura). Their findings show that the TSC is not been implementted successfully, making it pertinent to examine the circumstances and causes.
The EWC survey encompasses questions related to the sanitation awareness among villagers and their knowledge regarding to the necessity of toilets, effective water usage and accessibility, awareness among school children, hygienic sense and drainage systems.
This paper will expound the results and enquire into the reasons that obstructed the implementation of the TSC in West Tripura District on the example of the above mentioned regions. Geographical, economical and social circumstances must be reviewed thoroughly for they would likewise challenge any further sanitation program in that region.
The foremost issue in need of discussion is the water scarcity, followed by the poor infrastructure that seriously affects proper transportation of sanitary slabs and other toilet construction materials. The capital barrier to progress is the inadequate knowledge regarding the sanitation, health and hygiene among villagers, school children and Anganwadicentres in the highland areas, even though the literacy rate in Tripura villages is quite high. Women and girls are the major victims of poor sanitation facilities.
With this paper it will be attempted to offer some immediate action plans in order to implement a TSC through public-private and private-private partnerships. External support agencies like Sulabh International can play a leading role through collaboration with local private groups like EWC in addressing and solving the lack of basic access to water, establishing hygiene awareness programs, facilitating community participation, developing community based construction teams and implementing as well as monitoring the projects for a healthy environment / community.