WASH brings happiness in Maa Santoshi Tole

Siraha : Maa Santoshi village is in ward one of Lahan Municipality, and most of the residents are Dalits.

Previously, the people of these communities had to travel a long distance to Matiyarba to collect water. Once there, they would face lengthy wait times, with those of higher caste getting priority. The water itself was also of a poor quality – it smelt and looked dirty.

Maa Santoshi also had no toilets. People were forced to use open fields and would often hide behind bushes and trees. The lack of privacy particularly affected women and girls by putting them in vulnerable and compromised positions. Children would often end up defecating in their housing areas.

The Dalit Janakalyan Yuba Club (DJKYC), in partnership with The Beacon Project, has built eight water taps in the community to provide access to clean drinking water. Soniya Devi Saday, vice chairperson of the village, said, “We have our own taps. The availability of pure drinking water has lessened our troubles.”She also said that the taps are supervised by the concerning authority once a month.

Toilets have also been built and are used by nearly all families across the community. Dev Narayan Saday, who lives in the area, said, “Our children are rapidly catching-up the new ideas and the way of life. We, old people, are still the same but we know that sanitation is very important for our good health.”

Balo Devi Saday also said, “Our children used to defecate in housing areas, and they never used soap. The WASH campaign has enabled them to know the benefits of washing their hands after using the toilet. Now, community members are consuming safe drinking water.”

The Beacon Project is now running a hygiene behaviour change programme in the village, providing training on sanitation, menstruation and other hygiene related topics.

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