Naina (name changed), aged 13, no longer has to wait for eight hours to reach home before she can use a clean, safe toilet and does not miss school during her periods any more. Bhaskar (name changed), having stumbled over broken tiles and potholes, would shamefully resort to using the shrubs outside his school. Not anymore, because his school toilet is now repaired and well lit-up. Naina and Bhaskar both study in government schools where children suffer innumerable difficulties and indignities in not being able to access safe and clean toilets.
Sanitation is inherently linked to the nature of our business. In response to the global call for action, we developed a multi-country programme to provide access to sanitation in Latin America, Africa and India. In India, based on feedback from government stakeholders and our NGO partners, we decided to approach the sanitation issue from a different angle: fix what has been built and focus on school toilets.
There is enough evidence that inculcating toilet habits in children translates into toilet habits for the entire family, thus helping reduce the incidence of open defecation in communities. Further research suggests that 23 percent of girls drop out of school on reaching puberty, but access to safe and hygienic toilets can increase their attendance by up to 11 percent.
These can range from something as simple as fixing a door latch for privacy, attaching soap dispensers in wash basins or replacing broken commodes to more fundamental interventions such as paving the floor to prevent slips and falls, replacing the water pipes that bring water to the basins, preventing water clogging, repairing the flushing systems and regular cleaning of septic tanks. These are not challenging tasks, but they need to be identified and fixed because our children deserve usable toilets, which have a direct correlation with their attendance and engagement in school.
In our endeavour to focus on children as future change agents, we have identified schools and anganwadis across Delhi and the National Capital Region, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra in partnership with Charities Aid Foundation, to address specific barriers children face in using existing toilet facilities. We are doing this by identifying specific issues school by school, engaging key influencers and school authorities, deploying resources for specific repairs or renovation and setting up hygiene clubs to inculcate good toilet habits among children.
As co-founders of the Toilet Board Coalition, a global body comprising companies, government agencies, sanitation experts and non-profit organisations, our employees from around the world are volunteering their time and skills to find sustainable interventions in areas of repair, maintenance, education and change of behavior so we can move the needle on sanitation and create a lasting impact.
Achal Agarwal and Jenny Lewis from Kimberly-Clark joined Charities Aid Foundation at the inauguration of Toilets Change Lives in India.
Caroline Pfister, shares her story of working with a key customer to increase awareness. The research is extensive and undeniable...Read the story
A conversation with Lauren Kren about bringing dignity and respect to the conversation around periods.Read the story
Jason Biggs shares how a partnership with Plunket has helped support mums and their babies at such a crucial stage of life.Read the story