Clean India journey set to spread hygiene, sanitation awareness

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October 3, 2012

MUMBAI — A Unique –great wash yatra– will kick off on Wednesday from Wardha in Maharashtra, the centre of Mahatma Gandhi–s Quit India Movement, travelling across the heart of the country in a bid to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation.

October 3, 2012

MUMBAI — A Unique –great wash yatra– will kick off on Wednesday from Wardha in Maharashtra, the centre of Mahatma Gandhi–s Quit India Movement, travelling across the heart of the country in a bid to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation.

Also dubbed as the 'Nirmal Bharat Yatra' (clean India journey), the project rolls off a day after Gandhi's 143rd birthday. It was conceived over the past few months by a bunch of young, eclectic professionals in the non-profit and consulting world, both in India and abroad.

The 'yatra' is being managed by WASH United, a Berlin-headquartered club, in which some of the world's biggest sports stars join hands with school children in India and Africa, to fight for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and Quicksand Design Studio, a Delhi-based social innovation consultancy.

"We want to replicate this model elsewhere in India as well as in other parts of the world," Sabrina Aggarwal, the spokesperson for WASH United, told on Tuesday. "We plan doing a similar yatra in south India soon."

The yatra will take the form of a travelling carnival featuring sanitation and hygiene themed games, musical performances and magic shows. About 100,000 people, are expected to attend the carnival in villages stretching from Maharashtra to Bihar.

Another 30,000 schoolchildren will receive direct training in sanitation and hygiene, while 90 million Indians will be targeted through the media.

From Wardha, the yatra will travel to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Kota in Rajasthan, Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and end at Bettiah in Bihar (the birthplace of Gandhi's 'Satyagraha' on November 17.

Jairam Ramesh, India's outspoken minister of drinking water and sanitation — who recently described the country as the world's capital for open defecation — will be inaugurating the yatra in Wardha on Wednesday. Ramesh says the government aims to rid the practice of open defecation in India in 10 years.

Noting that 60 per cent of all open defecation in the world takes place in India, the minister had described it as "a matter of shame, anguish, sorrow and anger."

The Nirmal Bharat Yatra will resemble a travelling village fair, a toilet and hygiene mela, that harnesses the passion for cricket, the glamour of Bollywood, the fun of interactive games towards creating a masala of positive excitement around the long-neglected issues of sanitation and hygiene across India.

It also aims to raise awareness of and facilitate behaviour change around sanitation and hand-washing with soap.

The yatra will also tackle the persisting taboos around menstrual hygiene management in India. It also aims to implement a WASH in schools' programme involving children in each location to promote hygiene and sanitation in a fun and friendly way via games and singing and dance competitions.

Other agencies that are involved in this project include the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Arghyam, and UNICEF.


Courtesy: Khaleej Times