Sanitary Bank Club

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Jan 042013

Samarthan along with Water Aid launched a campaign for providing school girls with proper sanitary napkins facilities. The main objectives of this campaign was-

  1. To provide school girls with continuous availability of sanitary napkins so that they can attend schools regularly.
  2. To educate them about the personal hygiene.
  3. To make separate toilets for girls in schools along with proper disposal system.

It was during the Khel Khel Mein Badlo Duniya campaign organized by Samarthan and Water Aid in Jatakhedi and Nayakhedi, this problem being faced by adolescent school-going girls surfaced. The girls revealed, during discussions with Samarthan’s team members that there are no separate toilets for girls in their schools and they face a lot of embarassment during their menstrual cycle days in schools. That is the reason why they do not attend school during that period and prefer to stay back home. When asked the head mistress about the absenteeism of girls she confirmed that due lack of proper sanitation system for girls in the school, the girls prefer to stay at their home. Also they have to travel a long distance to reach school and since they use cloth sanitary pads they feel uncomfortable.

sanitary bank club-jatakheda-samarthan

Thus Samarthan and WaterAid together started a campaign in the high school of Jatakhedi and Patan village, Sehore district for providing the girls with sanitary pads on a regular basis. They formed a sanitary club (samiti) in the school constituting 20 student members and a teacher to monitor the sanitary pad bank. This club was provided with a box of 60 sanitary napkins which was bought at wholesale price from the market. It cost Rs 2 less than the market price. (That is, each packet of sanitary napkin costs Rs 22 at market price but when they bought 60 packs they got each at Rs 20.). The club was then told to issues napkins to the girls at subsidized rate only. In this way whenever a girl needs a sanitary napkin pack, she can go to any Sanitary Club member and buy a packet at a subsidized rate. It is the responsibility of the Sanitary Club members to buy new packs of sanitary napkins whenever required.

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Now after the campaign was started, the girls are coming to schools regularly and can also take part in extra-curricular activities without any hesitation. In this campaign the head mistress of the school Mrs. Rajni Sisodia played a very important role. Without her support this campaign wouldn’t have been a success. The girls in the initial phase of the campaign were very reluctant to discuss about such issues. Mrs. Rajni Sisodia motivated the girls and encourages them to come forward and take part in this campaign. She also regularly monitors the proper functioning of the Sanitary Club.

With the success of the campaign, the Gram Panchayat and school authorities also came forward and decided to construct a separate toilet for girls so that they don’t feel uncomfortable at school. Also an incinerator was installed at girl’s toilets at higher school in Patan, Sehore district. Many high schools in other villages in Sehore district are now adopting the same model of sanitary pad banks.

When asked, the girls of Patan and Jatakhedi high schools about the sanitary pad bank they comment that, “It has indeed changed our lives and made it easier for us to attend school as well as engage in other activities. This campaign has also taught them about personal hygiene which protects them for various diseases. They are thankful to Samarthan and WaterAid for initiating such innovative campaign and look forward to other such initiatives in future.”

The head mistress Mrs. Rajni Sisodia who was the main motivator for this campaign told us that since the inception of this campaign there have been many changes. The girls have also become more confident. They now actively participate in various extra-curricular activities. Also since the start of this campaign girls are coming to school regularly and the rate of absenteeism has decreased tremendously. Also the school authorities have taken an initiative to address girl’s sanitation issues more proactively.


Jan 042013

Samarthan Centre for Development Support in association with Water Aid started school sanitation campaign Jatakheda in Sehore district. The main objectives of this campaign were-

  1. To educate the students about personal hygiene.
  2. To sensitize the students about sanitation and health hygiene.
  3. To make them responsible toward their village cleanliness.

The first cleanliness campaign named ‘Khel Khel Mein Badlo Duniya’ was first organized at the High School of Jatakhedi village on 6th November 2012. In this campaign around 280 students (both boys and girls) participated.

How the Campaign was conducted?

In order to fulfill the objectives of the campaign, it was important to build rapport with the children. For this, the representatives from Samarthan first introduced themselves and told the students about the organization and the purpose for which they were interacting with the students. Thereafter they organized a sports competition in which the students and Samarthan’s representatives together played various games like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, cricket etc. In this way a good cordial rapport was formed between the student and the Samarthan team.

khel hel mein badlo duniya-jatakheda-sehore-samarthan

In between the sports activities, the members from Samarthan had informal chats with the students and tried to understand their level of knowledge regarding health and sanitation. After the games were over, the students were told about the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. They were told about the benefits of hand washing, personal hygiene as well as school and village level cleanliness. To involve the students more deeply in the campaign they were the provided with refreshments as well.

Apart from discussion on cleanliness and hygiene issues, the Samarthan team members decided to also discuss with the students adolescence-related topics and the importance of hygiene during adolescence. For this purpose, two separate groups of boys and girls so that each group could discuss their problems freely. During the interaction with the girls it was found that most of them had to miss school during their menstrual cycle due to lack of proper toilet facilities for girls in the schools.

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The result of this one day campaign ‘Khel Khel Mein Badlo Duniya’ was overwhelming. The students promised to wash their hands before having meals. They also formed a ‘Cleanliness Club’ in their school. The members of the cleanliness club will be responsible for keeping their school premises clean and monitoring the school sanitation system. The students also decided to encourage their family to construct a toilet in their home and to make their village 100% open defecation free. They also took the responsibility to help the service providers to keep their village clean. Also the school authorities promised to build separate toilets for girls and boys.

After the successful campaign in Jatakhedi, such type of campaign was also conducted in the high school in Nayakhedi village on 9th November 2012. In this campaign around 90 students attended and similar results were found in this village as well.

 Follow Ups

In order to monitor the result of ‘Khel Khel Mein Badlo Duniya’ campaign, Samarthan team regularly visits the schools in both Jatakhedi and Nayakhedi and interacts with the students to know their reaction and solve their problems if any.

During one such visit, students at Jatakhedi Higher school complained that they have only one water tap and it is not possible for all students to wash their hands during their lunch interval of 45 mins as all the students gather at one place to wash their hands and by the time everyone washes their hand the lunch break gets over. Due to this, many students avoid washing their hands. Thus the Samarthan team provided the school with a 200t ml litre tank with 6 taps attached to the base of the tank. This has made it convenient for the students to wash their hands and have their lunch within their break.


Jan 042013

Village Sikandarganj in Sehore district used to face frequent breakdowns of community handpumps. The technician from the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) used to charge Rs. 200 for a service that is supposed to be provided free of cost. When Samarthan’s team along with a team of resource persons from various government line departments (including two functionaries from the PHED visited village one evening to carry out a sensitization campaign, the villagers aired their grievances with them. The functionaries of the PHED assured the villagers that they would report the issue to the officials. As a result of the complaint, the technician who was unlawfully charging the money was reprimanded. The villagers have reported that all the repair work is carried out promptly and free of cost. The same team of resource persons has visited 40 villages over the past three months in a campaign dubbed by Samarthan as Ratri Chaupal. It is this team that has created awareness about the Rs. 2000 grant from the Agriculture department for the construction of NADEP composting pit, which has led to the construction of NADEP pits in 30 villages. As a part of this ‘Ratri Chaupal’ campaign, these resource persons have gone from village to village to tell people about the increase in subsidy for toilet construction under Nirmal Gram Abhiyan from Rs. 3200 to Rs. 4600. It was because of these efforts that 76 toilets were constructed during the campaign and more continue to be constructed.

samarthan-ratri chaupal

Samarthan has been implementing an initiative to spread the sanitation message in various Panchayats of the Sehore district. One of the objectives of the project is to set up Block Resource Centers (BRC) at each of the three blocks of the Sehore district equipped with material to sensitize villagers on the need and benefits of sanitation. However it was realized that beneficiaries from the village seldom visit block headquarters and whenever they do, they do so on some official business and would hardly find the time to visit the block resource center and the sensitization resources would just sit there without reaching out to the beneficiaries. It was thus decided to set up a Mobile BRC, which is essentially a team of resource persons who would undertake sensitization visits to the villages with the purpose of convincing the community to undertake sanitation efforts. Samarthan staff that has been working closely with line departments for the past several years has cultivated good professional relationships with a number of functionaries, especially with the ones who are sincere and proactive in their work and have a commitment towards social welfare. Samarthan team got in touch with some of these functionaries and shared with them the idea of creating a mobile BRC. The government functionaries volunteered to act as resource persons and join the Samarthan team in visiting villages for sensitizing the communities. The team also shared the idea with the officials of various line departments, who in turn suggested additional names of staff who had good oratory skills and would be willing to volunteer for the initiative.

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The team shored up by Samarthan includes functionaries various capacities in different government line departments including Education, PHED, Agriculture, Zila Panchayat, Health, PWD etc. These government functionaries are at various stages of their service – some a few years into their service and some closer to their retirement. But a common thread that binds these government functionaries is the motivation to contribute to the society over and above what their job requires. Many of these resource persons have special talents like poetry which have proved instrumental in engaging people.

After a few initial sensitization visits, the team realized that it was very difficult to gather people at one place during the day time as most of them were away in the fields. During Ganeshotsav, the team decided to visit a village at night as they were sure to find the entire village gathered together to celebrate the annual festival. This proved to be a masterstroke as it provided the team an opportunity to strike a rapport with the villagers by participating in the festivities. After joining the people in bhajans and other activities, the team started delivering the sanitation message under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. The people were very responsive as the team had been successful in winning their confidence. This how the idea of ‘Ratri Chaupal’ was born. Samarthan has carried out one-day workshops to train the team of resource persons.

In order to induce the community into building toilets, the mobile BRC team tried to stir their sentiments. The female team members stressed how uncomfortable it was for the women of the community to defecate in the open. The team also tried to drive home the point that open defecation was the root cause of malnutrition and disease in children. They also tried to dispel the myths prevalent among the community that toilet construction is expensive. Most of the people were under the impression that toilet construction requires almost Rs. 50,000. The team told the community about low-cost techniques of toilet construction. They were able to convince most of the households in each village to shell out money for sanitation. Issues of village-level sanitation such as drains and solid waste disposal were also discussed with the community.

An important side-effect of this campaign was that because a number of government functionaries were present in the village, the community started sharing other problems with them. They raised issues related to several other government schemes such as social security pensions, MGNREGS, water supply, education etc.  While the functionaries were able to address some issues immediately, for the others they gave guided the complainants whom to approach. In some of the villages, people said that it was for the first time that government officials had visited them.

When the team of resource persons was asked what made them join the campaign even though it was not required as a part of their work. They said that what motivated them to join the team was not only their inclination towards community service but also their close relationships with the Samarthan team. They said that it was it satisfaction of working with like-minded people as a team that induced them to spare time, efforts and money (i.e. fuel for personal vehicles) for the campaign.

So this is the modus operandi of the ‘Ratri Chaupal’ campaign – the Samarthan team contacts the volunteers to find out their availability for a visit, based on which a mutually convenient date is agreed upon. The volunteers take their own vehicles and the entire team reaches the village in the evening. They go to a central meeting point of the village and start cultural activities. Gradually the whole village gathers and joins the activities. Once the team establishes a rapport with the community, they start giving out the sanitation message and sharing the problems of the community.

The Samarthan team shared the experiences and achievements of the mobile BRC and the Ratri Chaupal with the District Collector of Sehore. The Collector was so impressed with the idea that he decided to use it as a grievance redressal mechanism for various government programmes. He decided to begin by using the technique for the district’s campaign to revive the Kulans River, under which the villages in the catchment of the river are being sensitized on various government schemes on sanitation and solid waste management. The Collector has issued an order directing staff from Zila Panchayat, Janpad Panchayat and line departments including Agriculture, PHED, Women and Child Development, Health, Revenue, Horticulture, Education and PWD, to form a team and visit villages every fortnight. The Collector has named this technique ‘Ratri Vishram’ and has directed the staff to stay in the village during the night. A nodal officer has been appointed for every village and the Collector goes on surprise visits to monitor the nightly events.

The Collector has ordered that once the Kulans River Revival campaign is over, the ‘Ratri Vishram’ technique be used for other campaigns as well.