According to a recent report by UNICEF, more than half of India’s population defecates in the open, and the situation is worse in the rural areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on October 2, 2014, with the aim of making India open defecation free (ODF) by 2019. The objective is to provide every village and every person in India, toilet and sanitation facilities, including solid and liquid waste disposal systems, safe and adequate drinking water supply and cleanliness of villages, towns and cities. Many Govt Organisation, NGO’s, Celebrities and Corporate Houses have been conducting cleanliness drives and Campaigns to make India clean and healthy. But among them, one campaign seems to be very effective and different in its methodology and approach; and that campaign is “5 Am Army”.
With an aim to wipe out the awful practice of open defecation from the State Capital of Chattisgarh, Raipur Municipal Corporation has formed a team named “5AM Army” whose intent is to edify the people and make them aware of the hazards of OD & stop them from defecating in open. Around 500 people from different aspects of the society have joined voluntarily in the mass movement. No matter where people belong to, what their age. But one thing is certain for them that they are committed to making their city neat and clean. People, those who go for a morning walk every day, are participating like that; it is their duty and responsibility to create awareness among the people to stop open defecation. Here everyone seems to be a soldier to fight against the age-long nasty practice of open defecation. Here everyone is a Super Hero.
To bring behavioral changes among the masses, the team members of 5AM Army are regularly inspecting sensitive OD spots of the city in the wee hours, which has been proving as the best initiative of RMC for making the City Open Defecation Free. As a result of the campaign, now a day’s one can hardly find a people who practice open defection in the city.
Raipur Municipal Corporation has led the way for others because the state capital is likely to become the first Smart City in the Country to get the defecation free status very soon. Most of the locality including the slums in the city has already achieved or near its achievement of the 100% target of having toilets in each household. This campaign was initiated by the administration where emphasis was on community mobilization. Public meetings and other awareness programmes were carried out. And it was because these programmes, most people’s mindsets changed and they realised the various ill effects related to open defecation. As a result, people became more eager to construct toilets themselves, with the help of the Government. 5 Am Army’s performance should be an eye-opener for other Smart Cities as well.
As the whole City is now coming together for this crucial cause, we would like to salute one of the unsung heroes who have been working towards a cleaner Raipur for much longer. Kumari Yadav , an inspiring personality is a 60-year-old lady on a mission to clean up the city. She has built more than 70 toilets in her neighbourhood to make the City open defection free.
If more people like these come forward then we surely can see a cleaner and healthier India in the near future. Citizens’ initiatives never go unrewarded and a great example of this is the initiatives like “5 Am Army”.
Making India open defection free is indeed a challenging task which involves the participation of not only the Government but also the involvement of the general public as a whole. Ending open defecation requires changing minds. Allocating money to construct toilets for people is not enough, but the way 5 Am Army is working it is changing the mindset of the people. People actually started developing the habit to use toilets and remain clean themselves.
You can also check: An Initiative To Create India’s First People-Powered Smart City: ThinkRaipur