New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday asked states to engage sanitation messengers in villages to "catalyse behavioural changes" among nearly 25 crore people in respect of open defecation, hygiene, water safety and safe disposal of solid and liquid waste.

In its guideline, the new Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, headed by Jairam Ramesh, asked the states to appoint "Swachchhata Doot" (sanitation messengers) for sanitation activism in the villages.

According to it, "Swachchhata Doot" (sanitation messenger) should be a local person, who must have access to toilet and should not be practicing open defecation, will act as consultant in the Gram Panchayats for sustainable Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC).

The individual, who would be appointed as "Swachchhata Doot", "must be a resident of the Gram Panchayhat (GP) in which he is being engaged" and should have good communication
skill, should hold a good reputation in the GP, should be apolitical, should possess leadership quality and community mobilisation skills, says the guideline.

"Gram Panchayat (GP) with a population of less than 2000 will have at least one Swachchhata Doot and the GPs with more than 2000 people will have minimum two Swachchhata Doots," the guidelines said.

It said preference should be given to female candidates.

"In GPs with two or more Swachchhata Doots, at least one should essentially be a female. However, the numbers are not fixed and districts will have the flexibility to select appropriate Swachchhata Doot as per their needs," it said.

The Swachchhata Doot will be issued an identity card and a suitable kit that may include stationary such as pen, diary, register etc as required, with Caps and Shirts with TSC
logo and suitable design through IEC funds. According to the guideline, the Gram Panchayats should hold monthly meetings of Gram Sabha (Sanitation Day) "to evaluate" the status of sanitation, hygiene, safe drinking water, disposal of solid and liquid waste.

It asks "Swachchhata Doot" to visit schools and Anganwadi centers at regular intervals for discussion on cleanliness, maintenance and use of toilets, pursue introduction of discussion after prayer meeting about the need for installation of toilets and use, safe disposal of child
excreta in toilets, hand washing at critical times and introduce "Child Cabinet".

The guideline directs "Swachchhata Doot" to coordinate with schools for competitions (poster, essay, quiz, play, music on the theme of sanitation and hygiene) among students during special campaign like "Yearly Sanitation Week/ Fortnight".

The official's responsibility includes mobilizing schools for health walk, rally in the village, focussed group discussions and door-to-door drive by students.

The guideline says the "Swachchhata Doot" should coordinate with Self Help Groups (SHGs), peruse for fixing a day every fortnight for discussion on sanitation, hygiene and water and motivate for offering loans to members for installation of Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs).

The official should also persuade SHGs to meet women members of House Holds for constructing IHHLs, using and maintaining, disposing child excreta in toilets, safe handling
of water etc. "Swachchhata Doots" can be engaged by Gram Panchayat with the approval of Gram Sabha. District Collector/Chief Executive Officer of the district may also nominate eminent persons of repute as Swachchhata Doots of identified Gram Panchayats.

The engagement can be cancelled by either side (candidate or Gram Panchayat).

"The motivator can be provided with suitable incentive from the funds earmarked for Information, Education and Communication (IEC). The block Panchayats and Gram Panchayats can be provided with funds from IEC for execution of such works," the guidelines said.

(Agencies)