*Image credit UNICEF, Jharkhand

The Giridih district administration in partnership with UNICEF has launched ‘Swachhata Voting’ in over 270 schools in the 39 Gram Panchayats which have been declared open defecation free (ODF) this year. This campaign cover over 20,000 school students and is being implemented with the support of the child cabinet and the school teachers. The idea has been conceived as one of ODF+ activities and is focused on the sustainability of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).  

For the Swachhata voting, a ballot was printed with four specific options to be ticked off by the students. These four options are – everyone in my house uses the toilet; I have a toilet at home but not all family members use it; no one in my house uses the toilet; and we do not have a toilet at home. 

The votes from the secret ballot are compiled by the members of the child cabinet and signed off by the Prime Minister & the Sanitation Minister in the child cabinet besides the school teacher. These are then analysed by the teachers with the help of the child cabinet and results displayed in the school. 

Mr. Umashakar, DC Giridih says, “This exercise helps the district administration in assessing use of toilets in the ODF GPs and also strengthens the child cabinet by involving them in the SBM. The information gathered is being used by the district administration to prepare focused follow up plans for these panchayats. The campaign is being supervised by the civil sub divisional officer (SDOs) and the block development officers (BDOs).”

Swachhta voting will be done four times in each school of the ODF GP at an interval of 15 days. In the first two rounds the identity of the voters will not be disclosed. Whereas the 3rd and 4th round will incorporate a column for the name of the head of the family and the village/hamlet. This is done to ensure corrective measures/actions can be taken. Based on the results, general awareness drives and individual counseling will be undertaken. In case, during any phase, it is revealed that use of household toilets is 100% then the next round of voting will be held only after three months. 

Dr Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF says, “Children are agents of change in their schools and communities. They are advocates for the Swachh Bharat Mission and can help bring about positive behavior change.” 

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