Chetan Bharda, is an active member of his School Sanitation Committee (SSC) at the Diamond School, Chitrawad. The Aga Khan Foundation works with schools across India to establish SSCs which oversee the water and sanitation, as well as general cleanliness, conditions in schools and promote good hygiene practices. As a result of the knowledge he has gained about safe sanitation practices from being a member of the SSC he recently encouraged his neighbour to make a soak pit for waste water collection. Here is his story:
“One of my neighbours, a tailor, who lives near my house didn’t have any provision for waste water disposal in his house. Every evening, I had to cross his house and my shoes used to get dirty because of the large puddle of waste water that would accumulate on the road. In the summer months it would also make the whole road smell. Some of our other neighbours fought with the tailor because the waste water from his house was dirtying the neighbourhood and attracting insects.
At school we learnt about the importance of keeping our environment clean and how to dispose of waste water to prevent diseases. This gave me the idea to suggest to my neighbor that he construct a soak pit. I sat with him and explained to him why he needed one for his house and all the steps he needed to take to make one. He finally agreed to make one and now the lane in our neighbourhood is clean and everyone is happy.”
Students Promote Accountability
One of the ways the SSC of KK Mori High School in Amrapur has ensured that their school sanitation block is kept clean is by setting up a suggestion box for students in which they make their suggestions on how the toilet facilities should be kept clean as well as anonymously report on fellow students who are not following the hygiene rules set, such as handwashing after using the toilet and throwing rubbish. The suggestion box is opened once a week and the students who have been named are instructed on how to look after their personal hygiene as well as keep the school sanitation facilities clean by the SSC. The SSC has found that this is an effective way of ensuring that the students change their practices and enables the committee to target those who do not understand the health benefits of safe sanitation and hygiene.
Students spread messages of safe sanitation in villages
After learning about the importance of cleanliness, using a toilet, handwashing and safe water storage the SSC of Gram Panchayat High School in Hadmatiya took it upon themselves to clean their school building and check that their school sanitation block was hygienic. After developing the processes for ensuring the cleanliness of the school and experiencing the benefits first-hand, the students of the committee decided to once a week visit the villages close to the school, going from house to house to tell the community about the importance of having a toilet, handwashing and ensuring their water is stored properly and they have soak pits. “We really enjoy going out to the villages and make sure that everyone understands why having access to a toilet and clean water is important” Jagruti, a student and member of the SSC says.