Stories from Davangere – approaching 100 % IHHL coverage

– Ms. Lidsay Vogt, Researcher

  1. PMT’s creative toilet planningMany people taking up the Swachh Bharat scheme don’t have much space to build a new room in or as an external addition to their home. Deciding where to place a toilet in a small home becomes a big challenge which requires creativity and innovation to solve. Here’s how residents of Hebbal village are meeting this challenge.
    Man & Toilet & Tree 2

    Toilet designed to save the tree

    Toilet outside the frontway

    Cattle shed

    Toilet carved inside cattle shed

    One family in Hebbal found space only outside of their house in the lane out front, but this is also a space where a fully mature tree was growing. The family wanted to keep the tree and was not keen on sacrificing it to build a toilet. With the PMT’s assistance, construction has started in a way that does not harm the tree. “Why not?” Hema, the PMT Project Manager, sPMTjpgaid.

    When there is very little space inside or outside of the home, the PMT has worked with people to find other suitable places for toilet construction. In many cases in Hebbal, people have decided to build the toilets just outside of their front entryways.

    2. The Driving force: Self motivated Mr. RaviBefore joining the PMT in Davangere, one team member, Ravi, decided that he did not want to immediately seek employment after finishing his Master’s degree. Instead, an internship experience with the NGO SNEHA inspired Ravi to facilitate the construction of toilets in his village, Ramagatta. Once he helped 60 households construct toilets in his village – sometimes even offering his own money for construction materials – he was moved to continue the work in nearby villages. In all, before he began his work with the Project Management Team, Ravi assisted 220 households in constructing toilets.


    Mr. Ravi, Taluk coordinator for PMT, incharge of Hebbalu

    After a formative internship with SNEHA in Mysore, Ravi felt that he had two perspectives that were necessary for achieving in rural development: an understanding of village life and needs, which he acquired by growing up in Ramagatta village in Davangere district, and salient skills for making a development project work, which he acquired through an extended internship with SNEHA. Miffed by the complacency of his well educated siblings, Ravi was inspired to do the opposite: to bring positive change to his village.

    20150527_120126 - Copy

    Toilet promoted by Ravi

    He thought sanitation was central to quality of life, and so he began with constructing toilets. Along the way, he encountered both successes and challenges. Starting with his own extended family, he convinced about 60 households to construct toilets. That part was easy, he said. In fact, in his own village, his work became easier over time. As more and more toilet construction ensued in his village, toilet construction supplies accumulated outside his house and the word got around that Ravi was the person who knew how to make it happen. He knew the administrative process of applying for government assistance; he knew material suppliers and contractors; and he knew the larger benefits that having toilets might bring to the village: better health, increased safety, a healthier environment. People who were interested in having a toilet started coming to him independently. He often even supported people as they took on the financial burdens of building their own toilets. While Ravi’s whole village did not ultimately build toilets, many of them did. In fact, to achieve this, Ravi found it to be quite easy.

    It was only until he started working outside of his own village that he encountered challenges. He found that in each village, simple awareness building was not enough – in order for the scheme to take hold, he needed the collaboration of the local government officials and popular leaders of the community. Ultimately Ravi helped 220 households construct toilets in and near his village of Ramagatta but given the challenges he encountered while attempting to establish relationships with community leaders, Ravi decided to move on to other work.

    It was only a stroke of luck that allowed him to build upon his ever-developing expertise in community sanitation communication. Soon after he stopped his personal volunteerism, he received a phone call from SNEHA, an organization which would ultimately form the Davangere PMT (and which would thus soon commence a lot of sanitation communication work). Ravi was an inspiration to those who initially formed the PMT, and his experiences – both his successes and challenges – became invaluable as they started their work. Further, the PMT gave Ravi an official capacity to start to overcome the challenges that he faced earlier. He now is in frequent communication and collaboration with village and Panchayat leaders as they jointly pursue completing the Swachh Bharat coverage.

    3. Putting people and pieces together to make it happen – The Tavarekere way

    (2) - Copy

    Mr. Shivakumar, Executive Officer, Taluk Panchayat, Channagiri

     - Copy

    Mr. Sangana Patil – PDO, Tavarekere

    Ms. Shwetha – Data Entry Operator, Tavarekere


    Mr. Lingaraju, Taluk coordinator for PMT incharge of Tavarekere

    In order for a government scheme to be effective at the local level, it requires the interest, cooperation, and coordination of many local government officials. In Tavarekere, where toilet coverage is just shy of 90%, the Gram Panchayat officials have been essential to the scheme’s success.

    In Tavarekere, members of the Gram Panchayat (GP) showed a lot of support for the Swachh Bharat toilet construction programme from an early stage. They were open to working with Arghyam and other groups to enhance the communication of the scheme, which created a lot of public awareness. Then, they employed a series of tactics to increase people’s interest and increased awareness or to increase it even further –they started linking scheme enrollment to other GP provisions, they persistently visited households to remind them of the scheme. Local government members, in this case, not only handled the technical or bureaucratic aspects of the scheme, but they took it upon themselves to enact and support communication with residents in their villages so that they would know and value the scheme. They executed the program in such a way that people took up the scheme quickly, approvals were quick to happen and incentives were disbursed in time.

    We spoke with several representatives of Tavarekere Gram Panchayat – a former GP president, Mr. T B Mruthunjaya, Panchayat Development Officer, Mr. Sangana Patil, GP Data Entry Operator, Ms. Sweta, and GP Bill Collector, Shant Kumar, who gave their thoughts on their work. They said that communication efforts such as those made by the Arghyam communication campaign and the PMT are key to the scheme’s success. In addition, they also made some innovations to implementing the toilet construction scheme which made it more successful, In addition, GP Ex-President, Mr. Mruthunjaya, also advocated for helping to pay people’s up-front construction costs, as many cannot afford to pay the costs on their own.

    4. Bheemakka in Tavarekere – toilet as a tool to reduce dependency of differently abled people


    Differentlyabled Ms. Bimakka

    Bheemakka was born and grew up in the village of Shikaripura (in Shimoga district). It was only when she married that she came to the village of Tavarekere. For a living, she finishes baskets by folding and tucking in the spokes (bringing the edge inside) of the basket frame to make it a finished product. For this work, she earns 1 Rupee per basket.

    Bheemakka was born with no eyes, which makes it difficult for her to do a number of tasks, including go to the fields in order to relieve herself. Bheemakka lives with her son, 16, who is in 10th standard and who helps her with many daily tasks, including the difficult task of finding a suitable place in nearby fields for relieving herself, which many of her neighbors do with ease. Bheemakka recognizes true value in a toilet, as it will enable her independence in most of her personal activities. Not only will she be able to navigate the path to the toilet alone, but having a toilet also liberates her growing son from the obligation to accompany her each time she needs to go to the bathroom.

    When she first heard about the government scheme that provided funds for constructing home toilets, she was interested but encountered some challenges. She was told initially that she would have to pay for the toilet construction first with her own money (she could not afford the up-front costs of building a toilet and then would be compensated later by the government). From her basketry work, Bheemakka makes only 5-10 Rs. per day, an income hardly sufficient for the money required to construct a toilet. Then, a breakthrough occurred: A group of visitors (the Project Management Team) came to her house one day to tell her that they would build the toilet free of cost. Her only contribution would just have to be the documents that proved her eligibility for the scheme, which were collected and filed with the help of the PMT. We were happy to hear that construction work was scheduled to begin just two days after we visited her.

    With the support of the PMT’s revolving fund, Bheemakka has been able to start her home toilet construction and she is happy now for she need not depend on any one for her nature calls.

    5. Ms. Gurusiddamma, Hebbal village


    Ms. Gurudasmma the loner in front of her house


    Gurusiddamma’s foot-ankle injury

    Gurusiddamma's recently constructed toilet pit cover

    Toilet for Gurudasamma underway

    Gurusiddamma lives alone for the last six years since the death of her husband. She is over 70 and suffers from a chronic ankle injury that makes going for nature calls in nearby fields, as is custom, a labouring and painful process. When we visited her, she told us that her toilet, which is currently in construction, could not be built fast enough owing to Panchayat elections. Only when the construction is completed, she be able use the bathroom whenever she pleases and without pain. In Hebbal, the PMT while working on bringing all households that are eligible under the Swachh Bharat scheme, has been able to identify particularly urgent cases, such as Gurusiddamma’s, to expedite the process wherever possible. Toilet construction is underway for Gurusiddamma.

    6. Local Chmapions: Mr. Krishnappa, Mandluru Gollarahatty village, Hebbalu GP

    A man well over 60 whose highest level of formal education is class 2nd becomes the only one in his village to build and use a toilet. How and why does this kind of an incident occur? Where does it come from?

    Krishnappa photo

    Mr. Krishnappa the local champion for Madluru gollarahatti

    When asked, Krishnappa, a farmer of corn, vegetables, raggi, first cites that he is a supremely self-motivated person. It is because of his desire, because of his interest that he did it. In fact, when he initially built his toilet, he constructed and paid for it himself. Only later was he compensated under the government scheme.

    In conversation

    Ms. Hema, Project Manager for PMT having conversation with Krishnappa

    Krishnappa's home

    Krishnappa’s house

    Krishnappa's Toilet

    Krishnapp’s toilet away from house

    However, when asked a little further, he tells that he is a man who travels quite a lot and who is enthusiastic about education. Despite only finishing school until the 2nd standard, Krishnappa told us that “Education is like eyes for blind people. With these eyes [refers to his literal eyes], you can only see the world, but with education, you can see him [God] also. That is the real eye.” Keeping a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in his shirt pocket even when he is working in his fields, Krishnappa often makes pilgrimages to temples in South India. On those trips, he would stay at temples and hotels and he would not know where to find a proper place to go to the bathroom. In those places where he temporarily resided, he first encountered toilets. He liked them so much that he decided to build one for himself in his own village.

    He started with his own family members, who were resistant. His wife refused to use the toilet until she encountered a snake while going out in the field to go to the bathroom; she is now a regular user. Then, he started convincing others in his village, often to their chagrin. Even so, he managed to convince about 20 households, roughly half of the village, to pursue toilet construction. At present, many have built pits and are waiting for materials to build the toilets.

    During his experiences of talking to people about toilets, Krishnappa found caste to be very important for people’s conceptualization of – and resistance to – toilets-. Everyone in the village is from the same caste, Gollava, he said. Historically, they lived in the forest and would, by custom, leave the village for nature calls or to relieve themselves. Krishnappa says that this tradition is still strong and equates it to other caste-specific beliefs and practices, such as not raising or touching chickens. He told us, “Sometimes, some people look at it as funny, shitting in the middle of a city. They think that we are making this place dirty (the surroundings of the house)…Some people don’t like to shit in the surroundings of the house” but, Krishnappa believes that if you are able to place the toilet far away from the house, it will not violate cultural practices and will be more sanitary for everyone.

    At first, Krishnappa was happy with his toilet and stopped there. It wasn’t until the Project Management Team started working in his gram panchayat that he recognized his situation as novel. Encouraged by the PMT, Krishnappa soon started on a mission to convince his neighbors to build their own. In part, he was motivated by the awkwardness and filthiness of defecating in the open fields. On one hand, people are often humiliated and scolded by landowners when they are using another person’s fields for relieving Krishnappa himself personally experienced this kind of shame. But, on the other hand, Krishnappa himself owns land and can be found working in his fields many days of the year. While shit is good for the soil, he said, it’s not very nice or healthy for people who work in the fields. Those who work the fields sometimes encounter the waste/excrement of others while they harvest, plant, cultivate the soil. Because they are working with their hands, this is not only disgusting but also unsanitary, unhealthy.

    Occasionally it is not the PMT that does the house-to-house communication work required to popularize the Swachh Bharat toilet construction programme, but, rather, a person who they have identified as a local champion such as Krishnappa of Mandluru Gollarahatty. Though he is well over 70, Krishnappa is an energetic, innovative man who continues to farm a variety of crops. When the PMT came to his village, they found that Krishnappa, wholly independent of Swachh Bharat and its previous manifestations, had built a toilet for himself on his own initiative. He is the only one in his village of 41 households who has a home toilet, no one else in his village had a toilet in part because of a long standing village belief that waste should be released only outside of the village, not inside of it and certainly not inside the home. When the PMT first encountered Krishnappa, they found that he and his wife were the only people in the village using a toilet. They had never thought to broach the topic with their neighbours. However, with the PMT’s encouragement, Krishnappa started introducing the concept of the toilet to his neighbours and despite the longstanding taboo against waste in the village and home, Krishnappa found that half of the village (20 households) were amenable to the idea and thereafter commenced enrolment in the Swachh Bharat scheme.

The wisdom of the rear view mirror – Part III

By Balaji Gopalan, Centre of Gravity

Most health communication assumes that once people are informed and provided with the relevant knowledge, they will transform themselves to exhibit a healthier behaviour pattern. However, this is far from the truth. For instance, most anti-smoking ads speak about the possibility of cancer. To a 16-year old trying out his/her first cigarette, this communication can seem like coming from the establishment (parents/teachers) and they may in fact want to rebel against it by smoking – the cigarette being a sign of rebellion. The same person might stop smoking to attract his/her first love.

There is a lot of merit for behaviour change communication to look beyond information and knowledge, to emotional motivators for answers. We had a glimpse of the power of emotional motivators in a campaign for handwashing with soap. The campaign consciously didn’t use words like germs or diseases, but focussed on the emotional motivation of ‘nurturing’ – a mother’s instinct to instill good manners in her child so that he or she may succeed in life. Handwashing with soap, we realised could be one such good behaviour along with combing hair, cutting nails and talking respectfully to elders.
The significant results in this campaign encouraged us to look for emotional motivators even in the toilet campaign and we found a powerful one.

Myth 3: ‘Health is a strong motivator’
Naturally, we found that government campaigners speak the language of health, and therefore the need for toilets. Without doubt, this was the reason why the government wanted to build toilets. But, the motivations for people to construct toilets were quite different.

To explore these motivations deeply, we identified people who had already constructed toilets and spoke to them to understand their motivations. There were three broad motivations for constructing a toilet.

Urbanness/ Shame
When there is a lot of interaction in the household with the city – a person from the family studying or working in a city, a daughter-in-law who comes from the town or a marriage where relatives and friends are expected from the city, the need for toilets becomes an urgent, immediate one. Deeper within the motivation of ‘urbanness’ is the motivation of shame at not being ‘urban’, and therefore the urgency of building a toilet. However, this motivation works only for homes with frequent interactions with the city – which in the case of a GP we surveyed was less than 5%.

Convenience/ Comfort
The other occasion when toilets become an urgent need is when there is an ailing person at home who is immobile – an old person, or someone who is physically challenged or bed-ridden with an illness. Once again, this segment of households are in the minority, with less than 5% people having such a person at home.

Protection/ Providing/ Being Responsible
Part IIIThe most powerful catalyst for toilet construction was the expansion of villages and loss of forest cover, resulting in less privacy for open defecation. Now, women have to walk longer and search harder to find a place to defecate. This poses many difficulties, such as fear of the dark as one goes farther than the village boundaries, humiliation when chased from someone else’s field, waiting all day for the dark cover of the evenings and gathering people to go out in groups.

However, this was an issue felt only by the women. While the men also went out on a similar journey every day, they had a very different experience and had very little empathy for the difficulties of women. The communication challenge here was thus, how to create this empathy and find a motivation that can move them.

One way is to inspire men to love/care for their women more. A loving husband is a very aspirational personality in a city, but in a village, loving/caring for one’s wife is not seen to be very ‘manly’, and therefore men would shrink away from such a portrayal.

The second was this whole idea of protecting women. While this is a powerful motivation, it can easily fall into the area of ‘protecting honour’ which can reinforce patriarchal structures.

Part II-3Therefore, a higher order motivation was identified in ‘becoming responsible’ – a responsible man who understand the family’s needs and provides for them is respected more among men. He is a man’s man. This is the one single quality that women expect their men to have – to be more responsible and share the family’s burden.

Health as a motivation to construct toilets was non-existent. The only person who mentioned ‘health as a motivation’ was an ASHA worker! However, it didn’t mean that health can’t be a motivation; it just is not perceived to be a valid enough reason to build a toilet. But, the ‘responsible man’ is surely a powerful motivation for constructing toilet. It is a fairly universal motivation and should work anywhere else as well.

This understanding guided one half of the campaign, which was about creating demand for toilets. Through a skit and a song, empathy was created for what women suffer every day. Through films, songs and interactions, the message of The Responsible Man was brought alive.

In hindsight, looked through the rear view mirror, all myths like, ‘people don’t want toilets’ or ‘women and children should be the target’ or, ‘health should be the message’ – may seem ridiculous. But, that is probably an unfair place to judge a myth from. A myth is often rooted in a real experience and that may not be valid in another time or another place.

However, the safest bet is to keep one’s nose close to the ground. The project has once again reinforced our faith in knowing one’s audience better before creating a campaign for them. And to have the courage and openness to walk away from deep-rooted assumptions if they are proven to be untrue.


The wisdom of the rear view mirror – Part II

By Balaji Gopalan, Centre of Gravity

Perhaps one of the most difficult decisions faced by a communication designer is selecting the target audience, because everything else in a communication plan, such as message and media, depend on it. For instance, if one wishes to promote nutritional food for children, there will be a difficult choice to make between talking to the mother or the child. If the target person is the mother, then the message could revolve around health of the child and the media could be TV serials. On the other hand, if the child is the target, then the message would revolve around taste and the media could be cartoon channels.

Similarly, when we started out on the project, we wondered who the target should be for this campaign to generate demand for construction of toilets. The initial feelers from experts were that women and probably children could be powerful agents of change. The people on the ground, however, had a different story to tell.

Myth 2: ‘Women and children should be the target’

It is not that difficult to see why women should be the target. Most social schemes focus on the woman because they are often more emotionally invested in the well-being of their family. Also, they had something to gain from constructing the toilet – privacy.

A woman and her 2 children pose for a picture during the field research in Davangere, Karnataka

A woman and her 2 children pose for a picture during the field research in Davangere, Karnataka

It is also not hard to see why children should be the target audience. School is often perceived to be an influencer of change in a village. Relevant government information is often carried to parents through the children. Also, it is easy to run a campaign in a school since it has a captive, receptive audience.

However, the dynamics of the ‘purchase process’ for a toilet under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) were very different, and this shifted the focus of the target. In the process of purchasing any new product, there may be many players involved. The user, the decision maker, the influencer and the purchaser may often be different. Let’s take for instance, paint. Normally, the trigger for painting a home can come from a woman and she may decide the colour or texture of the paint along with her children. The influencer, however could be the painting contractor, but men are often the buyers and therefore the decision makers on the brand of paint that is selected.

Similarly, we tried to understand the purchase process for toilets. The need for a toilet was most felt by women (from 14-40 years of age) and they were the triggers for the process to start. However, the decision makers were mostly men. Why was this so?

In most households, there are often clear boundaries on who decides what. The construction of toilets clearly fell in the men’s territory, for three reasons.

A rural toilet in Davangere, Karnataka

A rural toilet in Davangere, Karnataka

It is a high-ticket item. At Rs. 10,000 and above, a toilet is an expensive product for a rural household. When it comes to anything that involves large amounts, mostly men take the decision in villages.

Construction is male territory. The whole process of identifying masons, purchasing building materials and supervising construction is seen as a man’s job.

Dealing with the Gram Panchayat (GP). Accessing a government scheme like the NBA involves many visits to the GP, using existing networks like GP members and negotiating for bribes. This is once again seen as something to be done by men.

It is possible to change the roles in a purchase process through a campaign or a programme. In the above example of paint, it is possible to make women the decision makers and buyers of paint products, if the paint shops didn’t look like go-downs or if there was a service that delivered painting right to their homes.

We explored this idea of making women take on the role of decision makers, in separate groups with women. In discussions with Self Help Groups (SHGs), we broached the possibility of women picking up this process of toilet construction all by themselves. However, this was met with great reluctance – a feeling that this was really crossing established boundaries and they wouldn’t risk that.

Men in a village in Davangere, Karnataka

Men in a village in Davangere, Karnataka

The primary target for the campaign was therefore decided as men. A campaign was created targeting men and their motivation for constructing, which was quite different from ‘privacy’ for women. However, we realised that women could be powerful influencers if they were equipped with the necessary information about the scheme. Children, especially the young ones in the village elementary or primary schools, had very little role to play in the purchase process and were largely left out of it.

As you can see, the campaign looked at modifying the role for women, making them influencers from just triggers, while addressing the campaign to men. Understanding the subtle nuances in a purchase process can help make such critical choices about the target persons and their role in the purchase process. Otherwise, a lot of money can go down the drain trying to preach to the converted, which in this case were women.

Even so, the myths about who the target audience should be for this kind of campaign may pale in comparison to the myths about what the messaging should be! More about this in the next blog.


The wisdom of the rear view mirror – Part I

By Balaji Gopalan, Centre of Gravity

It is not unusual for several myths to be busted in the course of a project. One of my favourite examples of a myth is a film to promote handwashing with soap in rural India. It had this hand, signifying the hand of any villager, going through a normal day performing routine activities such as picking cow dung, working in the field and washing a child’s bottom. Watching that film, most urbanites would recoil in disgust, but for people in rural India, it didn’t evoke any feeling of disgust. Not surprising, since this was their life and they saw nothing wrong with the picture.

When a bunch of people who have grown up in cities try to design a campaign for rural audiences, it is a fertile ground for myths. The toilet campaign sure had its share of strange myths. In the initial days of the project, as we interacted with experts, officials and campaigners on the ground many myths were thrown at us about the nature of the problem and the solution.

Research of course, helps one walk this road from myth to reality. As we stayed and interacted with villagers in Davangere district, Karnataka over the 2-3 months of our research for this project, many of these myths were busted. In this series of blogs, I share a few of them.

Myth 1: ‘People don’t want toilets’
The biggest myth of them all and what seemed quite logical at first. If the government was providing the financial incentive and people were still not constructing toilets, it must be because they don’t want them. Rather obvious, isn’t it? Therefore, the campaign objective was defined as: ‘How do we create demand for toilets?’

Picture courtesy Ashutosh Wakankar, Centre of Gravity

Picture courtesy Ashutosh Wakankar, Centre of Gravity

However, in the first few days of our stay in the village, this logic began to crumble.

There were in fact many people in the village who wanted to construct a toilet. However, they were facing a few roadblocks in accessing the government scheme (the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan) – awareness of the scheme was low, their eligibility for the scheme was unclear and there were many who had constructed pits/toilets without receiving their incentive for months, not to mention the fact that they had to often bribe (about Rs. 1000-1500) to get the incentive. This made the enterprise uncertain for most, except for those with good connections in the Gram Panchayat (GP).

Procession in a village in Davangere. Picture courtesy Ashutosh Wakankar

Procession in a village in Davangere. Picture courtesy Ashutosh Wakankar

This risk is amplified by the financial situation of the beneficiaries of such a scheme. At an average annual income of around 40,000 to 50,000 rupees, to keep aside Rs. 10,000 for toilet construction is a high-risk decision. One has to make difficult choices, like choosing between a health issue or a religious festival and a toilet. With the uncertainty over the workings of the government scheme, even those who feel the need for toilets end up postponing it till they can risk it or build it with their own money.

In this climate, to launch a communication campaign promoting the government scheme could have been disastrous. As the saying goes, ‘Good advertising makes a bad product fail faster’. Therefore the campaign objective was redefined mid-way.

Objective 1: To reduce the barriers – reinvent the scheme to make it effective and build credibility for it. We worked closely with the government to quickly clear backlogs of subsidy payments, simplify the scheme and create communication around a central promise directly from the district CEO to the people.

Objective 2: To amplify the motivators – move toilet up the ladder of importance. For a significant majority who have not yet actively felt the need for toilets, it is important to move the toilet up the ladder of importance so that a latent motivation becomes an urgent one. Therefore, a separate campaign messaging was created around a central, powerful motivation for constructing toilets.

A myth like ‘people don’t want toilets’ is not formed in a day. It is based on the experience of people who have tried to promote toilets over the decades and have met with a wall of resistance. However, the problem with such myths is that it can stop one from seeing the present for what it is – the many changes in the village environment that has triggered a need for household toilets.

As you can see, busting a simple myth like that can dramatically alter the objective of the campaign itself and impact results significantly. What were the other myths?

More in the next blog.

Between the cup and the sip

By Balaji Gopalan, Centre of Gravity

In this post, Balaji Gopalan from Centre of Gravity (CoG) offers his reflections on partnering with government and executing a joint intervention. Centre of Gravity’s recommendations in the presentation will be discussed with the Davangere district administration and Arghyam, and a set of changes will be implemented in the second round of the intervention in another 25 Gram Panchayats. We expect that in the second round, the Government will take the lead role and Arghyam and CoG will play advisory roles.

Right at the beginning, we knew that a lot gets lost between the design and delivery of rural communication campaigns. We were also aware that it would be all the more difficult to minimise this transmission loss, since we were working within the Government system for this project. Naturally, we took many precautionary steps.

When people understand why a certain activity is done, participation tends to be more. We held several presentations with government officials at different levels to give them an idea of not just the campaign flow, but also the logic behind it.

Feedback was taken from the government team at each stage and some of it incorporated.

Quality Checks
Quality checks were done through auditions of promoters and Swachchata Doots, checking of technical equipment and production quality of communication materials.

Training programmes were conducted for all the people involved in the campaign – Promoters, Assistant Campaign Managers, Taluk Coordinators and Swachchata Doots.

The CEO also addressed the Executive Officers (EOs) and Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) to inspire them to give their best to the campaign.

Hand holding them from the thinking to the execution process.

Despite all these precautions, there were still many slips between design and delivery. Here are some reflections on what could have been done better.

The flow of command
The campaign was largely planned at the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) level and executed at the Gram Panchayat (GP) level. The Taluk Panchayat (TP), while kept informed, did not have an active role to play in the campaign, and thus felt no ownership over it. It is probably a good idea to include the TP officials at the planning and execution stage.

The Art of Compromise
There was always a tension between accepting the government system for what it is, and inspiring them to change for the better. For instance, punctuality. In most meetings, including training programmes, it was normal for participants turn in late. Should one accept this or push them to change? Accepting it would mean sending a signal that it is alright to not be punctual. And that would have a direct implication on the campaign – promoters would feel that it was alright to start the campaign late. Or conducting a campaign in a village where backlogs of payments were not yet cleared, sends a signal that it was alright to not clear backlogs. On the other hand, pushing them can cause resentment, which would have its own effect on the entire campaign. We need to reflect back to see if we made the right compromises in the first round of the pilot.

Inclusivity without losing coherence
During the course of the campaign’s development, we had to overlook some suggestions from the district staff, as they would have affected the design of the campaign or added to the costs without adding to the impact. For instance, the district had requested for more promoters, which would have significantly added to the cost of the overall campaign without really improving impact.This probably left the District campaign management team with the feeling that they were not heard enough.

Simplifying Campaign Logic
The professional, corporate way of thinking through a campaign is alien to people in the government system – even those who are in charge of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for government programmes like the Nirmal Bharat Ahiyan (NBA). While the message of the campaign was understood, the finer points of communication such as sticking to the core messaging and how social norms can create behavioural change was a bit lost on the people who were implementing the campaign on the ground. This will only become more important as they begin to implement the campaign on their own. We need to find a way to communicate these finer points in a way that they are easily understood.

Inspiration that cuts through indifference
Participation of government officials in the campaign was inconsistent. We had used traditional means like the distrct CEO addressing everyone, in an effort to inspire. What is perhaps needed is an unconventional approach that would cut through the overall indifference that seems to exist.

The good news is that despite some of these delivery issues, the campaign has still delivered immediate impact on the ground. Some of these improvements can help us take it to the next level and can be experimented with as we do the next 25 GPs.

Please refer to this presentation: Reflections and Recommendations for a more detailed overview of reflections and recommendations for the campaign going forward. These reflections are for the demand generation portion of the communication campaign.