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Water problems of school and Anganwadi children solved in rural Odisha

Story

By Chandrika Patnaik

24 May 2022

Improved water and sanitation facilities contribute to better hygiene practices and clean environment in government school and Anganwadi in Rayagada district of Odisha.

School-going children using the handwashing station in the school premise.

Photograph by Parshuram Palli

“Having access to a toilet for girls especially, has given them privacy and convenience. Earlier, they used to relieve themselves along with boys in the open behind bushes around the school,” says Sukanti Kutruka. Sukanti, 40, is a resident of Kandha Dengasargi village and a member of the School Development and Management Committee (SDMC) of the Government-run Prathamika Vidyalaya in Kandha Dengasargi in Kolnara block of Rayagada district.

As a mother of two daughters studying in the same school, she says the school has been trying to address the lack of sanitation facilities for some time. “The school built the toilet and bathing rooms in 2019 after receiving funds from Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA). Since then, access to a toilet has improved the hygiene of students, as they no longer need to defecate in open places. Like the other students here, my daughters use the toilet provided in the school. Using the toilet has also made the environment cleaner,” she adds.

The Government-run Prathamika Vidyalaya in Kandha Dengasargi has 30 students studying from Classes 1 to 5. Until 2019, the school did not have a toilet or tap water facility. Teachers and students walked outside the premises of the school to relieve themselves. They would pump water from the tubewell in the school for washing hands.

“If I wanted to defecate, I would pump water from the tubewell and carry the bucket with water to a place away from the school premises where I would be sure no one would see me. Sometimes, one had to pump many times to wash hands. This was common during the dry months. I remember getting tired of pumping for just half a bucket of water. The situation in the school is far better now with improved sanitation facilities put in place for children,” says Banita Kutruka, 20, who enrolled in the school when she was six years old and passed Class 10 in 2019.

Banita is now studying at Model Degree College, Amlabata in Kolnara block. Her younger sibling Pushpanjali, 9, is in Class 4 in the same school and regularly uses the school’s toilet and hand washing facilities.

Tirupati Kumar Panigrahi, Headmaster of Prathamika Vidyalaya, says about the school’s sanitation facilities, “Children use the toilet and do not go out in the open to relieve themselves ever since the toilet came up in 2019 with the Government’s help. Also, the cook appointed to cook the midday meals in the school, Deina Kutruka, is able to finish her work  quickly as running tap water is available inside the kitchen. Gram Vikas provided the tap and a 24*7 water supply connection in the kitchen in 2020. Earlier, Deina used to pump water from the tubewell many times in the day to fill up vessels for cooking food and later washing the utensils. During summers this problem used to get exacerbated and she used to complain a lot about getting tired pumping water from the tubewell.”

The President of the school committee, Prasad Kutruka, says, “Through the Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA) the school also received facilities like a wash stand, solar panels and a sintex water tank in 2019. The water is pumped into the sintex tank through solar power. Now our children do not have to go through the hardship of manually pumping water to wash their hands each time as there is 24*7 running water in the wash stands.”

He continues, “The Anganwadi Center (AWC), located a few metres away from the school, needs repair as portions of the roof in the centre have started falling. The Kandha Dengasargi Village Development Committee (VDC), has brought this to the notice of the block office in Kolnara. In the meantime, we have allotted a room in our school so that the centre can continue to operate for the benefit of children and young mothers. Due to the functioning tap in the school kitchen, Urmila Bismaji, the Anganwadi worker (AWW) at the centre is able to cook nutritious and hot meals from the school kitchen and serve the food on time to children studying in the pre-primary classes at the centre. She doesn’t have to collect water from the tubewell for cooking or for washing utensils.”

The community water tank of Kandha Dengasargi village.

Photograph by Parshuram Palli

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Chhabi Mohanty, Thematic Coordinator in Village Institutions and Convergence, helped with data collection for the story. Ganesh Chakravarthi edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas.

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