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In Assam’s Lakwa, use of toilets is a regular habit

Lakwa block is mostly inhabited by the tea tribe community, who were brought as indentured labourers to work in the tea gardens of Assam.

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Road leading to a village in Assam. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Bornali Borah, a housewife in remote Holow Phukan village in Assam, no longer wakes up her mother-in-lawduring the wee hours of the morning when she wants to go out to defecate. Borah and other women of the village are now happy as each house has a toilet and it is being used. Borah’s village has been declared ‘open defecation-free’ (ODF) as other villages in Lakwa block of the state’s Sivasagar district.

“I am happy that we live like human beings now and do not go to the fields to defecate like the animals. Before the toilets were constructed, all of us had go out in the fields to relieve ourselves. The entire thing was disappointing but we did not have any solution,” Bornali, in her early 30s, told IANS.

The toilet constructed at Bornali’s home is among 5,319 toilets in Lakwa block, funded by the state government and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects of companies like ONGC and BCPL (Brahmaputra Crackers and Polymers Ltd). The entire initiative was supported by UNICEF.

A baseline study done by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) in Lakwa in 2015 had revealed that toilet coverage was 35 percent and about 51 percent toilets were found to be unusable.

Related Article: Vinod Kapri to build toilets with his National Award money

Sixtyeight-year-old Bohagi, another woman beneficiary in Lakwa block, told IANS: “People used to say that they feel suffocated to defecate in a proper enclosed toilet, but I do not agree with them. After all, the government has constructed the toilets not just to ensure proper sanitation but also proper security for people who had to sometimes go in the field in the dark,” she said.

Toilet in a village. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

She said it took a lot of efforts of the state government and the volunteers to change the mindset of people.

A government official said they began by sensitising district- and block-level officials.

“The next phase involved sensitisation of community, key front line village workers and school children. The initiative was led by the district deputy commissioner and succeeded in making Lakwa ‘open defecation-free’ by December 2015,” he said.

Referring to earlier efforts to construct toilets, he said temporary toilets made of bamboo and straw without proper sanitary pits had their problems, as the structure was damaged during rains, and there was the risk of skin infections and other diseases.

The official said that people stuck to open defecation and there was some resistance to initial efforts at toilet construction.

“But now using toilet is a habit here. There has been no recurrence of open defecation,” the official said.

Lakwa block is mostly inhabited by the tea tribe community, who were brought as indentured labourers to work in the tea gardens of Assam. They comprise 17 percent of the state’s population and fare poorly on human development indices, including education.

The entire initiative required emotional motivation. As most of the problems here do not get highlighted, they prevailed here for a long time. There were toilets which were defunct,” Virendra Mittal, District Collector of Sivasagar, told IANS.

Understanding the importance of the government’s initiative, the villagers of Lakwa block have also started convincing people in other blocks of the district about the benefits of toilets at home.

(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at rupesh.d@ians.in. He was recently on a trip by the UNICEF to cover the Open Defecation Free (ODF) Lakhwa block of Sivasagar district in Assam, a first in the North East)

Credit-IANS

 

  • Pragya Jha

    Use of toilet is hygienic whereas peeing in open is unhygienic as well as harmful for the surrounding too

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Open defecation should be eradicated, It poses serious threat to the health of people in India. This is a remarkable initiative started by govt to eliminate it

  • Pritam Go Green

    There are still many parts in Rural states such as Bihar where open defecation is being practiced. Our govt should emphasize on collaborating on more such projects with UNICEF. This is indeed a great initiative.

SHARE
  • Pragya Jha

    Use of toilet is hygienic whereas peeing in open is unhygienic as well as harmful for the surrounding too

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Open defecation should be eradicated, It poses serious threat to the health of people in India. This is a remarkable initiative started by govt to eliminate it

  • Pritam Go Green

    There are still many parts in Rural states such as Bihar where open defecation is being practiced. Our govt should emphasize on collaborating on more such projects with UNICEF. This is indeed a great initiative.

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Kicking the Habit of Smoking Works Best in Pairs: Study

Lampridou noted that research is needed to confirm the findings in smokers who are otherwise healthy

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A person smoking cigarette, Pixabay

Is addiction not letting you quit smoking? Relax. A new study suggests that kicking the habit works best in pairs. The study, presented at EuroPrevent 2019, showed that couples who attempted to stop smoking together had a six-fold chance of success compared to patients who attempted it alone.

“Quitting smoking can be a lonely endeavour. People feel left out when they skip the smoke breaks at work or avoid social occasions. On top of that, there are nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Partners can distract each other from the cravings by going for a walk or to the cinema and encouraging replacement activities like eating healthy food or meditating when alone. Active support works best, rather than nagging,” said Magda Lampridou, Researcher from the Imperial College London in Britain.

For the study, the researchers evaluated the supporting role married or cohabiting partners might have in smoking cessation and enrolled 222 current smokers who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease or had suffered a heart attack.

Burning Cigarette. Wikimedia

The couples attended preventive cardiology programmes and during the 16-week programme, they were offered nicotine replacement therapy with patches and gum. In one programme, participants could choose the prescription drug, varenicline instead.

At the end of the programme, the findings revealed that 64 per cent of patients and 75 per cent of partners had quit smoking compared to none and 55 per cent in the beginning.

Also Read- Men Act Way Less Interested in Sex Than They Really Are, Suggests New Research

European Society of Cardiology (ESC) cardiovascular prevention guidelines advise against tobacco in any form and people who stop smoking generally halve their risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Lampridou noted that research is needed to confirm the findings in smokers who are otherwise healthy. (IANS)