Gangavva (38 years) of Gajapthi village in Khanapur is one of many who have availed short-term loans from Grameen Koota. She has been a member of Grameen Koota since 2008. They are a family of four, husband Basavaraj Patil (44 years), a daughter, Netravathi (20 years) studying in 2nd PUC, and son Harish (14 years) studying in Class 9. Gangavva had used the loans from Grameen Koota for many things, but not for building a toilet in the house. They all still followed the age-old habit of defecating in the open. Netravathi was always complaining about the acute embarrassment of going to defecate in the open fields. The stares and glares from the men folk hurt her. She told her mother, and Gangavva voiced her concerns to her husband, Basavaraj Patil. A toilet in the house was a must, she pleaded. But to no avail. A toilet in the house was not a priority for the men. They just could not understand the sensitivity of the issue and of the need for privacy and security.
In October 2015 Gangavva and three other women from the village attended a CLTS (Community Lead Training Session) program conducted by Navya Disha at Khanapur. The Name and Shame session conducted by a facilitator from Navya Disha was an eye-opener for Gangavva. It was not just the embarrassment caused by the open defecation. It was also a matter concerning the health of the family, especially the children. She recalled the many visits to the local doctor that she and her children had made in the past months. The facilitator from Navya Disha explained very lucidly the perils of open defecation and the problems that it could create for the community. Gangavva shuddered to think of the damage that open defecation practice in the village was doing. She decided that they must have a toilet in the house. She approached Navya Disha.
Navya Disha helped her with all the technicalities and she approached Grameen Koota for a loan to build a toilet. Grameen Koota gave her a loan of Rs. 10,000. In two months the toilet was ready for use.
It is four months since they started to use the toilet. Initially Basavaraj resisted, but has now started using the toilet in the house. Like Gangavva, many other women in the village also insisted and built toilets in their houses.
Gangavva was overjoyed when we asked her how she felt. Everyone in the family uses the toilet now. The visits to the doctor have reduced considerably, and the children are so much healthier now. Every household in the village should have a toilet, she says. That will really bring down health problems in the village.
Now her relatives visit her regularly; they don’t have to go to the fields to defecate! The smile is back on the faces of the Gangavva family.
(Case Study compiled by Mahalingappa Mugalkod, Development Officer, Navya Disha, Belgaum)