Tarawata village in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district stands apart from other villages - it's spick and span. This has been made possible through the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) launched by the administration almost six months back.
Slogans propagating sanitary habits and cleanliness adorn its walls. The alleys passing through the nearly 200 'pucca' (concrete) houses are bereft of any litter. There are no flying plastic bags, no unwanted paper, no cow dung scattered on the streets that look immaculately clean.
The populace, which consists of mainly Kushwah and Brahmin communities, depends mainly on agriculture for sustenance. And it's not just external cleanliness that the around 1,950 villagers have imbibed.
Only two houses in the village had toilets just six months back. Today, it boasts of having a 100 percent sanitation graph. "Not a single house of the village is without a toilet," says SK Mishra, nodal officer of TSC.
"Earlier, the nullahs (drains) would always be choked. But after the district administration's efforts and the implementation of the project, the village has undergone a 'sanitation surgery'," says Sarpanch Hanumant Singh Kushwah.
Initially, a lot of counselling had to be done to convince the villagers to discard the age-old tradition of taking a 'lota' (small utensil) and going out for defecation.
"Motivating them to change their mindset was an extremely arduous task. But gradually each one started aping the other. They understood the importance of having a personal and exclusive toilet," says Mishra.
Even the children of this village have learnt the importance of personal hygiene. Talk to them about the subject and they start parroting lines straight out of the Class 5 environmental science book: "We should wash our hands before eating. We should brush daily. We should bathe daily and wear clean clothes...."
The children of Tarawata now have a game "Play Pump" installed in their schools by which they lift water to the rooftop. This has helped them to get enough water for drinking and cleaning in their school.
This new technique has also helped them understand that electricity is not needed for lifting water - all through the "learn by play" technique.
"What is more important, no case of dysentery has been reported from the village in the past few months. The health indices have become more hygienic," says the sarpanch.
"Efforts of the Guna district team will indeed go a long way in bringing positive results for the children of the district and the state as the scheme is being replicated in other districts," said Hamid El Bashir, the Madhya Pradesh state UNICEF representative.