Night chaupal that shines a light in Hardoi village
Small innovative steps can go a long way in changing the face of a village in Hardoi district. This is the story how a Ratri (night) Chaupal made a huge difference in transforming the sanitation status of Village Baghuamau of Sandila Block in Hardoi district. When FINISH society and HCL Foundation started the Khushali (clean village) initiative, they found that the village faced many challenges related to sanitation and waste management. For instance, there was no provision for management of solid waste produced by farming and there was not a single solution to managing it at the village level. So, the only solution was to dry the waste and burn it. Another option was to dump the waste in the open landfill. One fine day program Associate Anita Devi struck upon a simple but effective idea for the menfolk of the area to assemble and come up with a solution. So, she planned for a Ratri Chaupal (Informal Night Meeting) in the village. The basic reason being that the working men were not able to attend any group meeting in the day time, since they mostly worked as labour and farm hands. As is the habit in the rural areas, these people prefer to sit in the evening in any common place for a chit-chat or run a reality check on their daily lives. That is how FINISH society developed a strategy to meet with these persons in the evening, and have a healthy discussion over a cup of tea regarding ongoing activities related to the project. With the help of local residents namely, Suresh Chaurasia, Kishan Chaurasia, Kanhiya Lal, Rajkumar and Gopal, Anita Organized a Ratri Chaupal on a pleasant evening. Those present shared their opinions regarding waste disposal and this was well put by Suresh who lamented that “we have no option for managing the waste and know of no solution to this burgeoning problem.”
“We have no option for managing the waste and know of no solution to this burgeoning problem. We tried many times to clean the village, taking the help of the Village Panchayat committee as also the headman (Pradhan), but they could not find a way to scientifically dispose of the collected waste.”
Continuing in the same vein, Gopal a youth of the village, said: For lack of a viable solution, all we did was to burn all the dry waste, plastic waste and farm waste. “After listening to them very carefully, Anita made a strategy as to what solution they could arrive at, collectively. Next day the team reached the village and met with Swachata Champions Gopal and Rajkumar, and with their help mobilized villagers to segregate domestic waste into dry and wet waste and put the plastic waste into a carry bag holding. As for wet waste like vegetable waste and cow dung, they trained them to do composting with WD Solution. Kishan Kumar, Kanhiya Lal and Suresh started preparing the Waste Decomposer (WD) solution and spray it on the dung heaps. They were surprised to find that the compost got ready in a matter of just 40 days and it was ready for use in the betel leaves farms which most of the farmers of the area were cultivating. The prepared compost was very effective because of its dryness. The team then found that due to plastic waste, the drains of the village were choked and the polluted drain water was spilling on to the road, which was made for an ugly and filthy sight. FINISH Society provided both support and supervision to the village panchayat members for the safe disposal of plastic waste and the Panchayat samiti is today able to manage this waste on their own today. The collective efforts have borne fruit and the village is visibly clean now and the household waste and segregated plastic waste is being collected in waste bags while the biodegradable matter is being productively used for composting.