Safe drinking water and Sanitation is required by all. But unfortunately, millions are affected in our country because they lack in access to these facilities. With new initiatives launched by our Prime Minister, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the WASH Program by Coca-Cola in association with TERI University is targeted towards providing access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
Safe water and proper Sanitation are the basic facilities providing both tangible and intangible benefits to human health and society as a whole - some of which are easily identifiable and quantifiable in terms of cost and time while others provide intangible benefits like convenience, well-being, dignity, privacy and safety.
Sanitation ensures prevention from a range of health and environment related problems. This can lead to sickness on a whole restricting access to earn a living or gain an education. Without proper sanitation facilities, people, especially who own little or no land need to walk a distance to find a safe and private open space. This is difficult for the sick, pregnant women, elderly, children or disabled people. Moreover, it’s a huge waste of time, effort and human potential. No sanitation has led to open defecation which also pollutes the surroundings and invites diseases. Defecation near water sources and where food is being grown can spread disease.
It is also a major cause of concern for girls. Even it is a deciding factor for girls to attend schools, lack of which has led to girls not attending schools. So a clean and hygienic sanitation is needed for education of the girl child. Awareness around these is essential for keeping the community disease free. These include many areas – household and personal hygiene, hygiene around shared water resources, waste water management, ensuring use of soap.
India, being a growing economy, has been unable to keep pace with the Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The WASH program (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) aims to reach 50,000 beneficiaries in low-income settlements and over 300 professionals through WASH governance studies. It will also reach out to 2,500 students through 20 municipal schools across India.
TERI University is currently leading U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Project titled “Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings” focusing on capacity-building at various levels across India. The project also includes behavioural analysis and interventions in cities of Chennai and Kolkata.
Some of the suggestions that emerged from this event held were:
1. Collaborative approach to managing waste water and providing access to sanitation.
2. Practice water harvesting irrespective of resident type- independent bungalow or apartment or hut.
3. Maintain a safe distance between water resource and toilets and waste disposal and treatment plants.
4. Create awareness and behavioral change by collaborating with schools and media houses.
5. Combine traditional knowledge with latest technologies for managing water and sanitation.
With these organizations supporting the cause, I am sure that millions would be benefited by gaining access to safe drinking water and proper, hygienic sanitation facilities.