Self Help Women’s Groups in India help change behavior around diets and toilet use to improve health

Self Help Women’s Groups in India help change behavior around diets and toilet use to improve health.
She recently was able to take out a bank loan of INR 12,000 (US$180), which she used to construct a toilet in her family home It was the Self Help Group (SHG) in her village that persuaded Sushila of the importance of sanitation for her children’s health and nutrition, and helped her get the loan she needed.
The project is working through SHGs to deliver awareness, training, finance, and monitoring on sanitation and nutrition in an integrated manner.
It has the highest rural population density in India and a per capita income barely half of the national average.
A third of its population lives below the poverty line, and more than two-thirds of rural households do not have access to individual toilets.
With a growing body of research linking open defecation to disease and child malnutrition, it is not surprising that the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of five in Bihar is a staggering 49 percent, much higher than the national average of 38 percent.
The Bihar Transformative Development Projects is using SHGs to address these issues and reach women at an unprecedented scale.
Project staff is trained to scale up this initiative across Bihar, and the lessons learnt, guidelines, and toolkits are used to scale up across rural livelihood projects in other states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
First, a comprehensive package of behavior change communications on sanitation and nutrition practices is delivered across a village.
Village federations lead post-construction monitoring through regular visits to these households, while messages around the health linkages between nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation continue to be delivered through SHGs.

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