GSF India sensitizes media on sanitation

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The Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) in India organized two media workshops in Patna and Ranchi in the States of Bihar and Jharkhand, respectively, in June 2013. As part of its media strategy, the programme seeks to cultivate a partnership with the media to highlight key sanitation issues in the focus states in particular, and the country at large.

Journalists interact with GSF at the Kangla Tand village

Journalists at the Kangla Tand village learn more about GSF 

In India, where 69.3% of rural India still defecate in the open (India Census 2011), the lack of toilets pose key challenges. To address some of these, GSF is working in select districts in these two States to raise rural awareness on basic sanitation and hygiene and supporting the State Governments to implement the national sanitation programme, known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.

The media workshops were an attempt to sensitise journalists to the needs of rural sanitation and establish its linkages to child health, primary education and poverty reduction. The workshops were attended by local journalists from leading regional press, who shared their experiences and challenges of reporting on sanitation – an issue that rarely makes it to the front pages of a daily. An open house session at the end elicited a positive response from the journalists who expressed keenness to support sanitation reportage and suggested steps to GSF to take forward the partnership.

Of particular interest to the participants was the media monitoring report of sanitation reportage in national and regional press, prepared and presented by the media support agency Communicators India.

The panel of speakers included the GSF Programme Lead and other key members of the GSF Executing Agency, NR Management Consultants and Communicators India.

Exposure to triggering
In Jharkhand, some of the journalists were taken for an exposure visit the next day to two villages in neighbouring Chandil block to appreciate the programme impact and its approach. The journalists first witnessed a community triggering at Katia village, conducted by GSF. An eye opener for many, this, in fact, drew a request from one of the journalists to conduct a similar exercise in his native village!

This was followed by a round of Kangla Tand, an Open Defecation Free (ODF) village comprising the Santhal community. The journalists got an opportunity to interact with the villagers and see the positive changes brought about by the programme.

The GSF, to be launched in Bihar in 2013, aims to reach 4,305 villages in 6 districts in the State by 2015.
In Jharkhand, the GSF aims to reach 7,993 villages in 8 districts in the State by 2015. The programme, so far, has motivated communities in 1,400 villages to construct toilets and not go out for open defecation and has declared 399 villages to be ODF.