Bhubaneswar: March 12: Toilets have always been a hard to discuss topic even as a huge population in the world still does not have an access to a safe toilet. According to the sanitation fact sheet of World Health Organisation (WHO) published on its website in February 2018, 2.3 billion people globally still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines.
Having contributed significantly in raising awareness on the importance of use of toilets and working closely with Choudwar Municipality with the support of Ruchika Social Service Organisation at the ground, Practical Action, an international non-government organisation (NGO) working in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector launched the Bhubaneswar edition of UK-based award-winning photographer Tom Oldham’s photography series at an exhibition titled “Building Healthy Communities, a snapshot from Swachh Samudai Project”. The images tell the stories of communities in Choudwar benefiting from project Swachh Samudai between Practical Action and the H & M Foundation at Jaydev Bhavan, Bhubaneswar, on 12th March, 2019.
The exhibition is a result of award-winning photographer, Tom Oldham’s visit to Choudwar in Odisha, where he met with a number of people benefitting from the Swachh Samudai Project, which works to enable slum communities in Choudwar town to improve their health through better access to safe drinking water and sanitation services.
‘Building Healthy Communities, a snapshot from Swachh Samudai Project’ will be open to the public for entire five days from 12th to 16th March. The exhibition gives a deeper insight into Practical Action’s work, technology and practices in converging sanitation, hygiene, access to clean water and health issues, in order to achieve a strong and positive impact on health and livelihoods of communities.
The Swachh Samudai ‘Healthy Communities’ Project supports the Odisha State municipal authorities to deliver their policy of providing safe clean water as well as safe treatment and disposal of liquid waste in Choudwar municipality.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest Padmashri Bhabani Charan Pattnaik said, “Cleanliness has been a concept dear to Indians since the time of Mahatma Gandhi. Any work contributing towards the making our cities clean and communities healthy must be encouraged. The stories of beneficiaries in the photos show that Project Swachh Samudai has made great stride in taking care of the well-being of communities’ in Choudwar.”
Sri Jagadananda of CYSD, while gracing the occasion as the Guest of Honour addressed the audience saying, “The project by Practical Action in collaboration with Ruchika Social Service Organisation and Choudwar Municipality brings out an important aspect that with the communities’ cooperation, society can become clean and healthy. There has been extensive work done in Choudwar under this project. This model can also replicate in other municipalities.”
Dr. Birupakshya Dixit, Program Coordinator- India Programs, Practical Action explained about the commendable impact that this partnership of a foundation like H&M with a dynamic NGO like Practical Action is making in improving the health and living environment of the poor slum dwellers in Odisha through the innovative Water and Hygiene Sanitation (WASH) Project of “Swachh Samudai”.
Mr. Mahesh Prasad Mishra, Municipality Engineer, Choudwar, who was a part of the project said, “This project has contributed greatly in making Choudwar open defecation free. We have been working together with Practical Action and Ruchika Social Service Organisation on this successful model and will hopefully accomplish much more under this project.”
The exhibition was attended by representatives from several reputed organisations and experts working in the WASH sector in India, international agencies, donors, corporate organisations, Government officials, and technology experts along with media personnel.
Practical Action is a UK based charity established in 1966 with the objective of reducing poverty through wider use of appropriate technologies in developing countries. With the Head Office in the UK, Practical Action works through its Country and Regional Offices in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Peru. Practical Action is focused on four broad programme areas namely 1) energy access 2) agriculture for food security 3) urban water, sanitation and waste and 4) disaster risk reduction.
Practical Action is one of the pioneers in facilitating the emergence of iterative and participatory market systems analysis to sustainable sanitation, including Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) in India. We are working through the approaches of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) beyond taps and toilets. Practical Action is working with extremely poor communities by/through building partnerships with local service providers to deliver the access to technologies and services tailored as per users’, need, access and capacity.
Ruchika Social Service Organization (RSSO), Odisha started its program in April 1985 for children in and around the railway station with a station platform education centre and gradually moved on to cover related facets like nutrition, medical and maternal care, hygiene, personal cleanliness, sponsorship of girls to the school, vocational training to the unemployed disadvantaged slum youths, awareness of HIV/AIDS among the slum/street adolescents, providing 24 hours telephonic outreach for children in distress and crisis, shelter for the homeless/orphan children, water and sanitation program for slum community etc.