Hyderabad: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, over a thousand villages in Andhra Pradesh have successfully managed to arrest the cases of seasonal diseases, with the authorities giving the credit for this to a pilot sanitation drive started three months ago.
According to state government data, about 1,320 villages, or 10 per cent of the state’s total, spread across all 13 districts were selected for the sanitation programme in June.
Now, months after the launch of the drive called ‘Manam Mana Parishubhratha’ (Our Cleanliness and Us), these villages have recorded a massive drop in the numbers of patients reporting with seasonal diseases like dengue, typhoid, malaria and acute diarrhoea.
Dengue cases fell 97.4 per cent this year — only 24 cases were recorded between June and August, compared to 944 cases during the same period last year, showed government data released Saturday.
The number of typhoid cases came down to 355 (96.05 per cent drop), and there was an 81.7 per cent fall in acute diarrhoea cases (20,355), and 50.4% decrease in malaria cases (601), said the data.
How the mission worked
Speaking to ThePrint about the drive, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Commissioner Girija Shankar said, “We picked villages from all 13 districts. Our first step was to spread awareness and make sure that people learn to segregate wet and dry waste within their homes. We conducted meetings, spoke to people and successfully made 5.5 lakh households follow this rule.”
The next step was to allot one ‘green ambassador’, who was a sanitation worker and a local from the village, to pick up waste from the houses and dispose of them at the waste processing units.
All these villages have solid waste processing centres — where waste is processed to make manure and then sold to farmers in that area.
The locals in these villages were asked to donate for the sanitation drive, on a voluntary basis. It started from as low as Rs 2 and ran into thousands, said Shankar.
A total of Rs 1.4 crore was collected in three months, a part of which went towards paying salaries to the sanitation workers.
Plans to expand programme
The drive was primarily focused in 660 rural mandals of the state. Committees were formed that had not just mandal-level government officials but also ward members, teachers and local ration shop owners to spread awareness.
“We equally involved locals too. The bank account, which contains the donations, is managed by local panchayat heads and village heads,” said Shankar.
“We made locals talk about it in their community — initially there was a lot of fear due to Covid and they did not allow sanitation workers to enter their houses. But we talked to them, explained about all precautions taken — then they allowed us to collect waste, clean drains,” he said.
Andhra government officials now plan to expand this drive to more mandals across the state in the coming months.
For the pilot project, about two villages from each mandal were picked. The plan now is to scale it up to nine villages per mandal.
“We wanted to reverse the notion that rural areas are not clean. Such drives were implemented in cities such as Hyderabad, Indore etc, but we thought why not implement in rural areas and see…” added Shankar.