It’s no secret that India doesn’t have the best public sanitation. However, you’d be surprised to know that the Government has created a major and successful initiative to tackle
Swatcchata Dhoot is a volunteering program started by the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Swatcchata Dhoots, or ‘Cleanliness ambassadors’ are volunteers that are appointed by the Maharashtra government to become a voice of change in their community.
This mission began in 2015, when the Government announced they had set a target of building 56 lakh public toilets across the state over 5 years.
What exactly does a Swatcchata Dhoot do?
Swatcchata Dhoots are responsible for spreading awareness and educating their fellow citizens on good health and hygiene practices. Almost 13.5 million people have been educated through the Swatcchata Dhoot program. This education has also led to the creation of a curriculum that teaches students the importance of adopting clean habits- washing hands with soap, safe water drinking, and using clean toilets.
Swatcchata Dhoot ambassadors are given the task of building toilets in their respective villages. An old survey conducted claims that inhabitants of almost 56 lakh houses in Maharashtra defecate in the open. More than one ambassador is appointed in the case of a larger village, where more toilets are required.
By guiding people towards the right steps to take to ensure public health, there are sure to be less cases of illness by public defecation.
Can I become a Swatcchata Dhoot?
You can indeed become a volunteer for Swatcchata Dhoot. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. launched a similar program in 2018 that allows you to ‘train’ to be a Swatcchata Dhoot from the comfort of your own home.
By teaching your hired help- support staff, drivers, watchmen and others, how to internalize good hygiene habits, you are already contributing to the growth in knowledge of personal hygiene.
The program has created a handbook in a variety of languages, as well as an audio version, which is a step-by-step guide. The book answers a variety of questions such as “What should I teach?” and “Where should I begin?
It takes 21 days to form a habit, and HUL provides you with a 21 day tracker chart to help you track your progress as well as the progress of the person you are helping educate.
Swatcchata Doots are not just hygiene educators- in January 2020, under the Jalna Zilla Parishad Initiative, 2-5 women are selected from their village and trained to collect, process and transport waste from their village, doing their part in reducing the clutter and helping the environment.
So, the government started the Swatcchata Doot initiative 5 years ago in hopes to construct 65 lakh toilets by 2020. Did they manage?
Yes! 60 Lakh toilets were built from 2015-2018 as a result of the Swatcch Bharat Abhiyan. 90 million toilets have been built across rural India and the national rural sanitation coverage has risen from 34% to 98% during 2014-2018.