Some Personal Impressions

By Vijay Krishna, Arghyam

Having visited 5 evening Information, Education and Communication (IEC) events, 1 morning event and gotten feedback from a lot of people on their experience, here are some impressions of how things are going so far with the pilot in Davangere.

The first round of IEC is scheduled to get done tomorrow (Feb 6th). There is another round of IEC where the vans will go back to the villages and do follow up work. This currently being planned for, in collaboration with the district. In the meantime, my personal sense of where we are right now:

The technical problems with equipment experienced at the start of the pilot are mostly ironed out now. Also, the quality of the evening event is inconsistent across villages. The type of village, the pro-activeness of the campaign team and Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) and other factors affect the quality of the campaign. Where people feel that they have been shortchanged by the scheme in some way in the past, they may interrupt or disrupt the event. But for the most part the events have maintained a minimum level of quality that is satisfactory overall.

While pending incentives and other issues with the scheme are clearly seen, the converse is also visible: in some cases people seem eager to sign up for toilets and are showing up at the evening event with the tear-off slips already filled out. This corroborates the research findings that there is demand for toilets in the villages. The proper positioning of the scheme and the assurance from the district and CEO, especially the guarantee of getting the subsidy in 20 days, seems to be working.

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 Collected tearoff slips from Negganahalli village, Rajenahalli GP, Harihar taluk from evening IEC event on January 27th 2014

The attendance has tended to be on the lower side. From rough numbers being collected so far, it seems about 15% of the village population attends the events, including children. This is lower than the average of 60% of households that don’t have toilets. The problem is particularly in large villages, where a single event at one place is probably not enough to reach everyone. In that sense, the campaign is lopsided, as we have given the same treatment to all villages without spending more time or paying more attention to villages with larger populations. This is something we want to address in the second round of IEC and certainly something that can be optimized during any scaling up.

Again our quick tracking of numbers seem to be saying that about 40% of uncovered households have given in the tear-off slips expressing interest in building toilets. This translates to about 25% of total households in the sample area. Can this be considered as success? We have not set ourselves a clear target number in the campaign so far, since there has been little precedent for us to compare against. In a literature survey the highest impacts were of the order of 30% increase in household toilet coverage. Some people in the government have indicated that we should aim for open defecation free (ODF) status. With this 25% number, we have a preliminary indication of what may be possible. On the plus side, we do have another round of IEC left, but on the negative side, interest expressed is very far removed from actually completing a toilet. Follow up will be critical to ensure completion of construction.

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