Dorothiya Fighting Against Open Defecation Before Swatch Bharat Abhyan

Dorothiya Kerketta Fighting Against Open Defecation Even Before Swatch Bharat Abhyan

Dorothiya Kerketta, a 72-year-old retired teacher and former mukhiya of Basen panchayat, has become a household name in Simdega district, which is 150 km from Ranchi.

She started her fight against open defecation long before the Swachcha Bharat Mission was launched and is now helping the district administration spread the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship project.

The former mukhiya started her fight against open defecation nearly 15 years ago, when she was a school teacher at her village Karangagudi in Basen panchayat of Kersai block of the Simdega district. “I felt ashamed when I saw the women of my village defecate in open. I tried to talk to the villagers about the privacy and dignity of women and the health risks associated with open defecation, but not many were ready to listen. I faced a lot of opposition for talking about something considered to be a taboo,” she recalled.

In spite of the discouragement and insults she faced, Kerketta continued her work with the help of a few fellow female villagers, who shared her concern. Being a reputed government school teacher, she was popular in the area, and elected as the mukhiya in 2010.

It was during this five-year stint that Kerketta got an opportunity to fulfil her dream. “In 2014, the Swachcha Bharat Mission was launched and this empowered me to fight for the dignity of women and make the village ODF.”

In a village like Karangagudi, finance, material management, water availability and finding masons to construct quality toilets became a challenge for her. The Simdega district water and sanitation division funded the village water and sanitation committee of Karangagudi to build almost 300 toilets, but the flow of funds was irregular.

However, she did not just stop working and went on to make the whole Kersai block ODF even after her five-year term as the mukhiya ended. At present, Kersai is one of the only two ODF blocks in Simdega.
Praising Kerketta, Simdega DC Manjunath Bhajantri said, “She is an example for all. Being a woman she raised an issue which even the men were not ready to talk about. She took every opportunity she got and now she is helping the district administration spread the message of ODF society.”
Simdega has become 50% ODF, with two blocks Kersai and Bansjore and three more panchayats being declared ODF. “We are hoping to make the entire district ODF by the December-end and Dorothiya Kerketta is playing a huge role in creating awareness.” Her efforts have been recognised and Kerketta has been invited by the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation to New Delhi on Oct. 2 to participate in the programme to mark the third anniversary of the Swachcha Bharat Mission.
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