In the small village of Raipur Nayakheda village, Sehore District, Madhya Pradesh, a group of children is forcing adults to address the problem of poor sanitation. Called the Dabba Dol gang, the group got the epithet from its leader, 13-year-old Pradeep Mewada, a Class 8 student with an infectious smile and strong determination.
Water Aid recently put out the video above, where Pradeep tells us that NGO workers told him about maintaining sanitation and stopping the spread of communicable diseases.
The "gang" wakes up at the crack of dawn to accost those going out to defecate in the open. They spill the water in the bottles or vessels the villagers carry with them, so that they abandon the idea since they cannot wash up afterwards – hence the name "dabba dol".
Pradeep attended a community-led total sanitation programme in his village, after which he decided to spread the message. He formed a group of ten children, who went around with whistles, he says.
People fought with and abused them, but Pradeep says they were determined and continued with their mission.
India tops the list of countries where open defecation is widely practised. According to the World Health Organisation, “India with 626 million people who practice open defecation, has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined.”
India’s sanitation levels are worse than those of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and all other lesser developed countries of the subcontinent.