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Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan: Nadia becomes first open defecation free district in West Bengal

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

“An achievement, which every Indian should be proud of. An achievement, which every person from Nadia wore on his sleeve today, as they strutted out to be part of massive celebrations in the district. An achievement, that has changed the future of Nadia’s children forever,” reads a post on UNICEF India’s website honoring a community-led transformation in a small district of West Bengal.

Setting a benchmark for the rest of the country, Nadia has been declared as the first open defecation free (ODF) district in West Bengal under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.

It was noted in the district census report of 2011-12 that out of the total population of 5.16 million, around 30 per cent of the households in Nadia had no access to toilets and the residents defecated in the open.

Such unhygienic conditions caused health issues among the residents of Nadia. In 2012-2013, more than 10,000 diarrheal cases and 28 deaths were caused due to diarrhea. Apart from facing severe health issues, women also had to deal with sexual violence, shame and guilt as they had the sole option to defecate in the open.

The district, under the administration of P.B Salim and with the technical support of UNICEF, decided to cede more importance to sanitation and aimed for an Open Defecation Free Nadia.

Soon 3, 55,609 toilets were built at an astonishing rate. The front line workers and the Anganwadi employees worked together to highlight the hazards of open defecation, and inspired the masses to seek for a better living. Not only the adults, but even young children did their bit to make their district hygienic.

In the record time of 18 months, the toilet coverage in the district increased from 66 per cent in July 2013 to 100 per cent by March 2015. About 5.16 million citizens of the district attained access to sanitary toilets.

“Bengal is proud of its achievement. To make whole of West Bengal Nirmal is our promise and we’re working hard to achieve this,” said the proud Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an event.

David McLoughlin, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF India said, “UNICEF is proud to be a partner with Mission Nirmal Bangla and we are sure that its success is inspiring other districts in West Bengal as well as other states of India to take strong action to stop open defecation.”

Indeed, it’s a moment to rejoice and a time to celebrate the power of unity.

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