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Clean India journey set to spread hygiene, sanitation awareness
A 'great wash yatra' beginning on Wednesday at Wardha in Maharashtra, the centre of Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India Movement, will travel across the heart of India, in a bid to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation.
The yatra, reports the Khaleej Times, will take the form of a travelling carnival featuring sanitation and hygiene themed games, musical performances and magic shows. Some 100,000 people are expected to attend the carnival in villages stretching from Maharashtra to Bihar. A further 30,000 schoolchildren will receive direct training in sanitation and hygiene, while 90 million Indians will be targeted through the media.
Also dubbed the 'Nirmal Bharat Yatra' (clean India journey), it will resemble a travelling village fair, a toilet and hygiene mela, that harnesses the passion for cricket, the glamour of Bollywood and the fun of interactive games to create a 'masala' of positive excitement around the long-neglected issues of sanitation and hygiene across India. It also aims to raise awareness of and facilitate behaviour change around sanitation and hand-washing with soap.
The yatra will also tackle the persisting taboos around menstrual hygiene management in India. It also aims to implement a WASH in schools' programme involving children in each location to promote hygiene and sanitation in a fun and friendly way via games and singing and dance competitions.
This project was conceived by an international group of young professionals from the non-profit and consulting world. It is being managed by WASH United, a Berlin-headquartered club, in which some of the world's biggest sports stars join hands with school children in India and Africa, to fight for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and Quicksand Design Studio, a Delhi-based social innovation consultancy.
"We want to replicate this model elsewhere in India as well as in other parts of the world," Sabrina Aggarwal, the spokesperson for WASH United, said on Tuesday. "We plan on doing a similar yatra in south India soon."
Jairam Ramesh, India's minister of drinking water and sanitation - who recently described the country as the world's capital for open defecation - will be launching the yatra. Jairam says the government aims to eliminate the practice of open defecation in India in 10 years. Noting that 60% of all open defecation in the world takes place in India, the minister had described it as "a matter of shame, anguish, sorrow and anger."
Other agencies that are involved in this project include the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Arghyam, and UNICEF.
4th October 2012