Darbhanga, is one of the most backward districts of Bihar. The statistics available with the district administration, suggest that close to 85 percent of its women, the nucleus of their families, are illiterate. It is a district where more than 92 percent of its population lives in rural area of which only 30 percent is literate. The per capita income is four times lesser than the national income. It is the district which produces less (food grains) than it consumes. Open defecation is a common problem of entire North Bihar. It is so common that it has become a way of life for the people who don’t see it as a problem. As per a study conducted by Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) only 6.08 per cent of households have in-house toilet facilities, and the remaining 93.92 per cent defecate in the open. This practice of defecting in the open has had some serious implications on water and thus on health. Almost every third family in this region is suffering from some or the other health related issue which is directly linked to this menace. Ponds and wells of this region have become polluted beyond measures. The stench of excreta makes air unbearable to breath, more so in mornings and late evenings. We at CRIA are raising funds to build toilets for the poorest of the poor in Dharbhanga and neighbouring districts. We selected a cluster (Tola) of dalits of the Brahmpura -Bhatpura Panchayat and identified the families without toilets. Among these families too we made our own list of who would get the toilets built on a priority basis. Then we contacted the local suppliers of sand, cement, brick and other material and made them the stake-holdersin the entire operation. The model worked and we succeededin building toilets for more than hundred families in the first month of our initiative. The then DM of Darbhanga, Mr. Balamurgan D, made a special visit to Brahmpura to see CRIA’s initiative and highly appreciated its efforts.
The success of Brahmpura Model had a cascading effect on the neighboring panchayats. We receive demands form other panchayats to replicate the model there. The current DM Chandrashekhar Singh invited us to replicate it in Navanagar Narma panchayat of Alinagar block of Darbhanga district where we are working at present. There are three hundred and twenty four panchayats in Darbhanga district. On an average in each Panchayat some two thousands toilets are to be built in order to make the district open defecation free.Instead of building toilet for each household, as itis a too tedious and too time consuming a process for one agency, we are planning to raise units in each Panchayat which can replicate Brahmpura Model in their respective Panchayat.