01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
The North-Eastern Uttar Pradesh sub-region (also known as the trans-Sarayu region) is one of the most backward and the poorest regions in the country and also the most densely populated regions in the country. It is characterised by abundant level and slow gradient highly fertile alluvial lands. The region is drained by a large number of rivers and streams, originating in the Nepal Himalayas to the north and flowing southwards before merging with the Ghaghra or Sarayu River. Rapti, in whose basin the project villages are located, is one of the major tributaries of Ghaghra. The Rapti basin is known for heavy floods. In fact, floods and water logging here are a recurrent problem and it switches on disasters. And, it impact on health, food security, livelihood, education and day-to-day life. The Kharif (monsoon) season agriculture is perennially under threat and during the years of heavy flooding is almost completely lost. The Rabi (winter) season agriculture also suffers losses due to inevitable delays. The livelihoods of the people, especially the poor, therefore become vulnerable to the vagaries of the nature. Land based livelihoods (agriculture and animal husbandry have traditionally been the main source of livelihoods. However, due to the heavy and ever increasing population pressure, the average size of landholdings is consistently on the decline; so much so, that for a large number of farmers, agriculture has become, or fast becoming, an unviable economic proposition. The consequence of these factors is that there is an emergent crisis of livelihoods in the area.
Subhawati Devi is a 48 years old woman from Ramkola, a village located in the flood plains of Rapti River in the Campierganj Block of Gorakhpur. At the inception of the project the village Ramkola did not have even a single, functional individual household level toilet. The entire population of the village of about 680 (140 households) indulged in open defecation. Ramkola was amongst the first few villages where CLTS ‘triggering’ was organised, in October 2012 and Subhawati was in the thick of the action right since the beginning. She played a key role in facilitating the CLTS ‘triggering’ of her village (which was organised on October 14, 2012) was the first person in the village to construct a toilet (a kachcha single pit toilet), almost immediately after completion of the triggering event and began using it with other members of her family from the day one. To set an example for the community helped the process of forming a group of WASH activists/leaders within the village to keep a constant watch on defaulters and also to carry forward the community initiatives on improvement of water and sanitation condition of the village. She played a critical role in organising an ‘interface’ meeting between community and Block level government functionaries to demand resources from government schemes for constructing pacca toilets (at individual household level) in the village
One specific instance that can be cited here was her role in bringing the Block level government functionaries (including the BDO) to her village so as to show case the efforts of the community to make their village ODF. The meeting with the BDO was organised on February 12, 2013. BDO was so impressed with whatever he saw in the village that he promised to bring the village under the ‘Lohia Samagra Vikas Village’ category and, for this purpose, asked the villagers to submit a list of the households who have constructed toilets on their own and were using it. Subhawati again came to the fore in helping the lists to be prepared and in making repeated visits, along with delegations of villagers, to the Block office to carry the process forward. The efforts bore fruit with the BDO fulfilling his promise of raising the status of Ramkola to a ‘Lohia Samagra Vikas Gram’, beginning with the FY 2013-14. This proved to be a windfall for the villagers as large scale construction of pacca toilets was taken up in the village. The situation now is that almost all the households in the have constructed toilets and are enjoying the benefits of the same.