Sanitation, quite simply by its definition is a means of promoting health through proper disposal of sewage, waste water. According to the stats, about 69% of Indian population still lacks access to improved sanitation facilities. The sanitation issues are either through open sewages which are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other parasites which are hell bent on spreading deadly diseases. Of course to add to this is the problem of open defecation which adds to the long list of problems and the diseases it can cause.
Unfortunately India has the highest rate of open defecation in the world according to the UNICEF 2010 report. If we think why open defecation has survived over so many years and why such a huge populace practises it, it might simply be the lack of infrastructure, lack of education and amenities and the lack of understanding as to how deadly it can prove to be, not just in the long run but also to our everyday lives. There have been a few efforts since 2000 on this front by the government. We keep seeing the advertisements of the Total Sanitation program and educational programs done accordingly. We also read about this being taught at schools at the basic level so that it becomes a part of our system.
We can’t boast of a powerful economy or a country when the local population suffers from the most basic problems which can be solved and we cannot talk of inclusive growth unless we improve the quality of life. And a large chunk of that answer lies in sanitation. Although on the outset, it just seems to solve the medical issues through prevention, it also solves various other issues alongside with the widespread advantages spreading to service industries, tourism, etc. So there is no wonder that there has to be massive action on this front.
This is exactly where a beautiful word catches the eye – CSR, corporate social responsibility where the businesses take responsibility of building the local community. It feels really nice to come across the WASH programme (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) by Coca Cola in association with The Energy And Resource Institute launched the Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings initiative in Kolkata.
The program aims to reach 50,000 beneficiaries in low income settlements. It also plans to reach around 2500 students through 20 municipal schools in India. The project focuses on involvement of the local public, schools, faculty which can go a long way in making the program sustainable. The success of such a project can tip the scales back in favour towards a cleaner and better nation.
Hoping for more such initiatives to take water governance to the limelight.