New Delhi: Kimberly-Clark (K-C), global leader in hygiene products, in association with not-for-profit partner Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India, launched the ‘Toilets Change Lives’ campaign today at a primary school in Chandanhola, New Delhi. This campaign is part of K-C’s global sanitation initiative under the aegis of the Kimberly-Clark Foundation and is being implemented in partnership with CAF India. Under the project over 100 toilets across schools and anganwadis in Delhi/NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Maharashtra will be restored. With a focus to fix dysfunctional toilets rather than build more toilets, the company aims to positively impact the lives of nearly 1 million people directly and indirectly across these states.
In a country where ~600 million people still practice open defecation, construction of ~ 10 million new toilets with toilet facilities in~ 90 per cent schools in one year, is no small feat. However reports suggest that 4 out of these 10 school toilets are non-usable or dysfunctional due to lack of regular maintenance. In rural India, 1 out of 2 toilets in schools is unusable leading to continued open defecation. India reports the highest number of diarrheal deaths among children under-five, open defecation being the main reason. Further research suggests that ~ 23% girls drop out of school on reaching puberty and access to safe & hygienic toilets can increase their attendance by up to ~11% .Through Toilets Change Lives Kimberly-Clark is taking a unique approach of repairing dysfunctional toilets in schools to restore hygiene, safety and dignity for children.
At the inauguration of the program Mr. Achal Agarwal, President Kimberly-Clark Asia Pacific Region said, “Sanitation is inherently linked to the nature of our business and in response to global sanitation crisis, we developed a multi-country program ‘Toilets Change Lives’ to provide access to sanitation across Latin America, Africa and India. In India, since much progress is being made by the Swacch Bharat campaign in building new toilets we decided to address the lacuna of dysfunctional or unusable toilets. Further we will focus on school toilets as it not only impacts children’s attendance and quality of education, but also influence their families and reduce the incidence of open defecation in communities at large.”
Meenakshi Batra, Chief Executive, CAF India, said, ‘’We are proud to be associated with Kimberly-Clark as a partner in ‘Toilets Change Lives’ and we would like to laud them for considering the sanitation issue beyond just building new toilets. Maintenance of toilets and generating awareness among students, parents, community representatives and teachers are equally important components, which will help in long-term sustainability of the program and contribute to the behaviour change aspect of the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign. Initiatives like these highlight how socially responsible organisations like Kimberly-Clark are willing to go the extra mile to address gaps that exist in the sanitation infrastructure.’’
In its endeavor to focus on children as future change agents, K-C and Huggies is addressing specific barriers children face in using existing toilet facilities. These range from fixing a door latch for privacy, attaching soap dispensers in wash basins or replacing broken commodes to more fundamental interventions like paving the floor to prevent slips and falls, changing the water pipes that bring the water to the basins, removing water clogging, repairing flushing systems or regular cleaning of septic tanks. K-C is engaging school authorities, deploying resources for specific repairs or renovation and setting up hygiene clubs where children learn and advocate good toilet habits.
Kimberly-Clark Professional took its first step in 2014 to build household toilets in Karjat, Maharashtra, India in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Further, Kimberly-Clark is also a cofounder and key member of the Toilet Board Coalition, which is working towards building a self-sustaining demand-based sanitation model in Orissa.
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