India’s First ODF Village

Thandavampatti - a village with a population of 276 people in 69 houses at araichhi village in Thathiangarpet block of Trichy district became the first rural habitation in India to totally prevent open defecation, where open defecation is considered to be the birth right of people.

Ignorance of the harmful effects of this practice, people specially those in rural areas continue to indulge in this practice unmindful of the fact that in addition to being harmful, it is also totally unaesthetic.

While men used the nearby Thuraiyur – Namakkal road for defecation at night, the same stretch was used by men and children during day. Children and women were the most affected by this rotation system as answering nature’s call during night hours created problems.  The villagers faced a torrent abuse from heavy vehicle drivers who use to veer of the road to avoid oncoming traffic and ran the risk of hitting defecating villagers in the road side.   All the above facts came to the fore during a meeting of the local women’s self help group when field staff of Gramalaya visited the village some time ago. It was decided then and there to put an end to this menace once and for all. The meeting which took place as planned also led to a procession (transect walk) of all residents being taken on the sites they usually used for open defecation. It was only then that they realized how much shame and ignominy they underwent daily to answer nature’s call. The dangers of open defecation and how it led to disease which in turn affected the family income was discussed threadbare at the meeting. This was a matter of shame for the women specially who generally had to get up in the spots they used for open defecation whenever humans or vehicles passed that way. After all these were discussed, the entire community decided en massed to put and end to open defecation once and for all. Gramalaya field staff suggested that immediate construction and use of direct pits toilets was the answer . This would eradicate open defecation totally without residents being forced to spend heavily on toilet construction, they were told. The community agreed to stop open defecation within a month by constructing direct pit toilets. These direct pit toilets do not need a big spending or superstructure, A cement slab with the pan is fixed over a pit which is directly dug below it.  There is a air vent pipe which is fixed to send the smell out.  Ash is being used after defecation and there is not water in this place, and the feacal matter is turned into a manure over a period of time.  This toilet is ideal for rocky terrain, and there is very little water involved in the usage.  Ash should be available, except during the time of usage, the toilet should be covered