New Delhi: RB (erstwhile Reckitt Benckiser), world’s leading consumer Health and Hygiene Company, in association with the World Toilet Organization (Singapore) and Jagran Pehel, laid the foundation of World Toilet College for sanitation workers in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
Through an effective curriculum, the World Toilet College aims to introduce an enabling program for sanitation workers. The program will help in their skill development and improvement of their socio-economic standard by providing better employment opportunities.
The event was attended by Jack Sim, Founder of World Toilet Organization; Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Co-Founder Global Interfaith Wash Alliance, Sadhavi Bhagwati Saraswati, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith Wash Alliance, Nipun Vinayak – Commissioner, Aurangabad; Dr. Rekha Bahanwal, General Secretary, All India Walmiki Mahasabha; Narasimhan Eswar, Senior Vice President, South Asia-RB Home Hygiene; S.M Sharma, Founder Chairman and Chief Advisory, Pehel & Group Advisor to the Board of Dainik Jagran among others and Senior Members of partner agencies like BVG, Kamshala, IL&FS and Dalberg.
The workers involved in manual cleaning and handling of sewerage often face critical health issues, however, are bound to continue working under these circumstances due to financial constraints and socio-psychological barriers.
Public rebuke of being seen as ‘non-dignified workers’ and lack of technological substitutes add to their wretched working conditions. With this alliance, Harpic Dettol Banega Swachh India, the flagship initiative under RB, aims to provide sanitation workers with a dignified livelihood, access to basic rights and improve their self-esteem.
On the occasion, Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization said, “Cleanliness and sanitation are India’s pertinent issues and it requires a massive mind-shift to improve the condition. Hygiene and Cleanliness should be seen as a basic need. The average person uses a toilet 2,200 times per year, approximately six times daily leading to clogged sewerage systems.”
He further said, “At various steps across the sanitation value chain, workers interact with faecal sludge in extremely unsafe ways with inadequate safety equipment and training. They are also socially and culturally ostracized. The World Toilet College aims to instil pride among these workers. We laud RB and Jagran Pehel on this project and will continue to support this endeavour in future.”
Recognizing the efforts of partnering organizations, Seema Dhandare, Govt. of Maharashtra said, “There has been a massive push for improved sanitation in urban and rural India, and progress has been substantial with several hundred million Indians now having access to toilets. While the public eye has been on big campaigns like the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, the inner workings of sanitation systems and the state of sanitation workers in these systems have not been addressed properly. We congratulate RB, World Toilet Organization and Jagran Pehel for creating a curriculum which will not only uplift the lives of sanitation workers but will also give them better job opportunities.”
Speaking about the partnership, Narasimhan Eswar, Senior Vice President, South Asia-RB Home Hygiene said, “As a leader in the sanitation environment, we observed an imminent need to address the increasing hazards posed to sanitation workers due to unfavourable working conditions. With the establishment of World Toilet College in Aurangabad, Harpic aims to give a status of equality to the sanitation workers community.”
“We hope to start a movement of change for improving their lives, with 5,000 sanitation workers graduating from the college over a period of two years, empowered with skills and a job. We are proud to see our Banega Swachh India campaign create a positive impact with community partnerships reaching out to a wider audience. We thank all our partners for their whole-hearted support in making this a reality,” he added.
The curriculum at the World Toilet College will cover subjects around acceptance of toilets, cleaning methods, capacity development and more. The vocational training programme will provide them access to use ICT and in-person tools, ranging from technical training to soft skills to career counselling and partnership development and will promote entrepreneurship in sanitation value chain.
Harpic Dettol Banega Swachh India has been successfully creating awareness and driving behaviour change over the last few years.
As part of continued efforts by RB to improve sanitation and hygiene, the company has built 17,000 toilets out of the 25,000 toilets it aims to create through people participation. It also partnered with Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to launch the ‘Toilet Karenge Search, Toilets Rakhenge Swachh’ campaign that focuses on encouraging citizens to use Google Maps to locate public toilets and share their ratings and reviews after using them. RB has committed to be the behaviour change communications partner to spread awareness and dissuade people from defecating or urinating in the open, through this social campaign.