Peddapalli district in Telangana has four Swachh Bharat mission awards in its kitty, including being adjudged as the cleanest district in the country in 2019.

This feat was achieved due to the efforts of IAS officer A Devasena, former district collector.

Through several steps, she transformed the district from a place with clogged drains, dengue outbreaks, and open defecation, to an example of sustainability and waste management.

Here are the steps she took that accorded Peddapalli this title:

1. Construction of community toilets in each of the 263 villages in the district.

2. ‘Swachhagrahi’ programme: 1,000 women leaders chosen to monitor cleanliness in their villages and create awareness.

3. Local politicians were motivated to clean up their areas through a competition.

4. Public were roped in through activities like plogging, where people pick up trash while jogging, and plantation drives.

5. Over 1 lakh soak pits (a porous-walled chamber that helps waste water seep into the ground) were constructed, one in every household, to reduce open drains and ensure that sewage water doesn’t flow out.

6. The advantages of soak pits were evident, as the district ceased to be a high-risk dengue-prone zone, with a whopping 85% decrease in the number of cases in just a year.

7. Residents were advised to separate their household waste into four categories — wet, glass and metal, plastic, and paper.

8. Families were asked to practice household composting of their wet waste through a kitchen garden, with the administration providing six saplings.

9. Women were engaged in manufacturing cloth, jute and paper bags as substitutes for single-use polythene bags to reduce plastic waste.

10. Sabala napkins, sanitary napkins made of timber and paper, produced by women of the district, were distributed to every woman at Rs 2.50 per napkin.

11. Afforestation was done in a total of 400 acres of land across the district.

Devasena has shown that effective change can be brought about by utilising the resources available at our disposal along with the willingness of authorities to help locals.