Access to clean and safe toilets are prerequisites for good health, dignity, privacy and education. The world toilet organization was established to break down the taboo about toilets and the sanitation crisis all around the world. Around 1 billion people in our world today face the indignity of defecating in the open. The unclean and poor maintained toilet facilities in schools, colleges contribute towards dropping out of girl children, especially during their age of puberty. 

Upkeeping community toilets could address the growing concern of access to adequate and equitable sanitation for margnilised urban communities. To begin this campaign, the Technical Support Unit (TSU) of TNUSSP took interest in adopting Balavinayagar Nagar, which is a small catchment and it is situated around 5 to 6 kms away from the main roads. This falls in the administrative-jurisdiction of Narasimanaickenpalayam Town panchayath. Here, open defecation is practiced by those who don’t have their own toilets and moreover, due to the fact of lack of maintenance of their community toilet.

Considering all these and analyzing the current situation and needs of the community, the city TSU took a stake in initiating a complete renovation of the community toilet joining hands with the Narasimanaickenpalayam town panchayat. An entire plan with a budget was framed, that included both – the engineering and social part.

The team took an effort towards engaging with the community on regular usage of toilets and its management. At the meeting pitching the concept of user fee with a formalized management model were suggested.  It was agreed that a compulsory user fee of Rs. 50/- (Monthly) will be collected from each family. This, in turn, will be used for maintenance and management.

The utilization of water was also highlighted during the discussion. Restriction on washing clothes using the water supply to the toilet is a collective decision that the community agreed upon.

The entire renovation work took around ten days and the toilet was  inaugurated by the Executive officer and former president of Narasimanaickenpalayam Town Panchayat. Community members were also present during the inauguration adding wings to the program. The Executive officer has promised to give support to maintain the toilets. The city TSU has planned for further more engagements with the community to spread more awareness of legible utilization of water resources and also sensitizing them about protecting the community toilets as their own property, especially for the wellbeing and privacy of women in their community.

By Blessy Oviya