Women in Baitadi village happy with improved health, sanitation

Published On: July 14, 2019 03:00 AM NPT By: Bira Gadal

BAITADI, July 14: Manju Raikal of Raikal village of Purchudi Municipality in Baitadi was watering flowers in her small garden on Thursday evening. There were separate dustbins in the corner of her house for degradable and non-degradable wastes. She smiled while explaining the difference between the two types of wastes. Along with that, she also talked about food and nutrition. Nowadays, she said, she tries her best to feed nutritious meal to her children. She also keeps them clean and tidy. The changes she has brought in herself and that are reflecting in her home and the health and happiness of her kids have surprised her. Until a few weeks ago, health and hygiene were unheard terms for Raikal.

The municipality launched an awareness campaign on hygiene, sanitation and nutrition to improve the health and lifestyle of women and children in its ward by mobilizing women health volunteers. Residents are gradually implementing lessons they learned from this campaign.

The village got the name Raikal after the Raikal community which still struggles for necessary facilities. Situated in Purchaudi Municipality – 1 the entire village was known for filth and poverty. So much so that visitors would block their nose while passing through its alleys.

"That was when we were not aware of cleanliness. We did not know how to keep ourselves and our surroundings clean," said Raikal. "Even a little knowledge can change your life; I have seen this for myself."

The credit goes to the municipality that launched 'Namuna Tole Abhiyan' (model settlement initiative). Under this campaign, the municipality offered villages and wards training on health and sanitation. The local body is also providing women with handy tools to help them keep their houses and surroundings clean. Along with this, mothers are also provided with courses on child care and nutrition. And the women are loving it.

"We were handling our children the way we knew it. We would feed them without any knowledge about nutrition," said Raikal. "But now all women take special care about their kids' nutrition needs and try to feed them fresh vegetables, soup, homemade meals. We have stopped buying biscuits and noodles from shops for our kids' snacks."

Raikal's children continue to ask for junk foods. Earlier, she would not mind giving them Rs 10 or 20 for buying noodle packets. "They would get tiny packets and do with it, instead of having food made at home," she reported. But now, Raikal tries her best to persuade them to eat homemade food. "When they ask for something from outside, I remember the things told to us by women health volunteers. They told us that junk food is not good for health," Raikal said.

The municipality has deployed several women health volunteers for the campaign. The volunteers have to make women in the villages aware of health and sanitation.

"Our toilets are clean these days. There are drinking water filters, a fixed corner to clean dish and a separate place for kids to play," said Raikal. "They taught us how to manage things well, even with little resources and space we have."

The municipality's campaign is basically for new mothers. However, that's not a strict provision. According to Ganesh Joshi, district officer of the Nutrition Program, the objective of the campaign is to improve people's health and lifestyle. "When women are made aware of health, sanitation, nutrition, they can bring change to their home, community. These issues are very crucial for keeping the entire community healthy and fit," he said.                                    

Ganesh Gadal, the chairperson of the ward, added that people in his area have been taking a keen interest in growing kitchen garden vegetables. "Unlike in the past, nowadays the love cooking self-grown vegetables. Earlier they would go to market for everything. And they also know that they must consume fresh edibles."

According to Binod Chand, chief of the municipality's health department, the campaign has brought behavioural changes among people. "And this has greatly helped in keeping our villages clean."

Deputy Mayor of the municipality, Janaki Bam stated that pregnant women and new mothers have been greatly benefited by the campaign that started two months ago. "Although health and sanitation is not a time-bound program, such campaigns get more intense. And those who participate in the campaign are highly benefited," she said. "We have noticed that pregnant women, even from impoverished and marginalized class, have been coming for health tests."

A local Sonu Raikal, however, stressed on the need to provide poor people with more facilities. "And such assistance should be regular and sustainable," she demanded.



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