The Objective of IEC in the Water and Sanitation Sector

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The use of contaminated water and open defecation are the major causes of malnutrition, child death and communicable diseases in India. According to a study by UNICEF in the year 2008, only, 21% of rural households in the country have improved sanitation facilities, whereas, 31% of the rural households didn’t have toilets. In recent years, there has been an increase in the coverage of toilets, but their usage and sustainability remains at the nethermost. However, years of effort by the government, NGOs, and partner organizations have helped improve the conditions related to sanitation, safe water and hygiene. The government has also initiated reforms in the rural water supply and sanitation sector to strengthen community based approaches for greater sustainability.

The state governments are trying hard to promote sanitation through various methodologies and we can take the example of West Bengal that has achieved near 100% sanitation in certain areas of the state.
The “Sant Baba Gadge Scheme – leveraging the traditional social equity of the social reformer” is an incentive driven strategy adopted by the government of Maharastra to distribute sanitation based messages.

Programmes related to rural sanitation:

– Central Rural Sanitation Program-CRSP: 1986

– Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC): 1999 (Restructured version of CRSP)

– Nirmal Gram Puraskar'(NGP): 2003

– TSC renamed as “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan” (NBA, 2012)

– The Swachh Bharat Mission (restructuring the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, 2 October 2014)

After the initiation of Swachh Bharat Mission, sanitation in India is gaining momentum, though half of the population still needs to be provided with better sanitation facilities. So, the need of the hour is to study the awareness level and prevailing communication strategies used in the mobilization of sanitation and hygiene among the rural people. It is important to have a look at the objective of Information, Education, Communication (IEC) and to find the strategies for addressing sanitation behavior of people.

Objective of IEC:

The basic objective of IEC in rural sanitation is to create awareness that will lead to enhanced involvement of the local community, especially at the village level. The next objective of IEC is to ensure motivation along with skill up-gradation of,

– Panchayat members

– Line department functionaries

– The village sanitation and water committee (pani samiti members)

– School teachers and students

– Self employed mechanics and masons

Apart from the above people, sector professionals are to be sensitized for a change in role and responsibility along with attitude with the help of need-based in-service training by taking the help of specialists/ experts.

Objectives of an IEC campaign:

– A systematic and objective based IEC campaign yields effective results and brings accountability towards the programmes. The availability and access to data, findings, lessons, reports and experiences adds much value and sharpness to the response of rural people.

– To promote a mass media campaign that focuses on promoting personal responsibility and accountability towards the provision of toilets and safe drinking water.

– An IEC campaign brings awareness of different programmes and activities of the government for creating demand for community participation.

– Children should be used as the change agent for mobilization of communities.

– Creating awareness among rural communities regarding linkages between personal and community hygiene, safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

– Gathering and sharing information among the general public to bring transparency both in approach and implementation in the field.

Focus areas of rural sanitation and IEC:

– Building of sanitary toilets and their use

– Monitoring water quality

– Conservation of water and water storage along with management

– Garbage disposal management

– Basic health and hygiene

Although, development and communication approaches taken under each plan is different, one thing is common, that is, encouraging people’s participation in the whole sanitation drive. Hence, a significant emphasis should be given through IEC, to make people aware of the key issues.

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