From Small Villages to Booming Metropolises, GIWA’s Swachhta Kranti (Clean Revolution) Campaign Inspires Every Day to Take Action for a Clean and Healthy India

Thousands of people at the massive Saras Mela Festival in Bihar, India were drawn to the main stage by a matchless vision of the Gods, Shiva, Ganga and Saraswati as they performed in flowing robes. Their performance was unique: compelling the masses to build and use toilets as a call of faith.

The show is part of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance’s historic Clean Revolution Campaign, which is currently in three large Indian states to inspire a clean and healthy India through its 35-person team of social workers, community educators and performers.

The reason is crucial: over 400 million people in India don’t have toilets, leading to a public health crisis that results in countless lives lost or impaired due to contaminated water and land. Studies also find that many people who do have toilets are still not using them due to the lack of understanding of their importance. Using its trucks and travelling theatres, GIWA’s Clean Revolution campaign is igniting new waves of understanding, so that the cause for clean sanitation can be taken up by all as a call of faith.

And the campaign is working. According to evaluations, over 90% of participants agree afterwards that they are more likely to compel their neighbours to build and use toilets as a result of the multi-day programme, which includes stage shows, community meetings, children’s rallies, classes for community motivators and masons and more.

Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “from the grand level to the ground level, this campaign is meant not to just inspire, but to equip every-day people to champion the cause in their own communities. Through the leadership of the people can come great and lasting change.”

GIWA’s unique approach interweaves faith-based messaging with conventional SBCC and CLTS interventions in order to leverage impact. Understanding that on-ground change is essential in light of rapidly-approaching SBM and LSBA deadlines, the campaign’s Swachh Bihar Yatra (pilgrimage for a clean Bihar) is taking into account the entire landscape: from the grand level of mass events to ground level meetings, early-morning interventions and more.

Activities Include:

  • Dynamic live performances
  • Lively audience interactions
  • The screening of motivational videos featuring India’s foremost faith leaders
  • CLTS triggering techniques
  • Children’s rallies and marches
  • Early-morning follow-ups/individual discussions
  • Community meetings
  • Planning sessions with community leaders
  • Mass and personal pledges
  • Special events
  • Data collection for planning of follow-up interventions in coordination with relevant governmental agencies
  • and more

To strengthen the campaign’s on-ground impact, a special GIWA team will also provide follow-up classes to help promote the fast and effective building of toilets. These will include:

  • CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation) triggering activities
  • Community outreach training for community leaders and officials
  • The training of local faith leaders
  • The training of women as toilet masons for their communities
  • And more

As an intriguing feature of the programme is the screening of videos of some of India’s foremost faith leaders, as they share their inspirational words on the importance of toilets and cleanliness for the health of our children and the future of India.

Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, GIWA Secretary General, “We are so happy to see village gates thrown open for our Swachh Bharat Yatra (pilgrimage for Clean India), which is touching the hearts of countless people as it travels through the state. It shows the faith-based approach can make the difference.”

Said Swamini Adityananda Saraswatiji, GIWA Director of Programmes, Partnerships and Development, “inspiration and education must go hand-in-hand if real change is to be made. The Swachh Bharat Yatra represents a great step forward.”

 

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