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Changing mindsets, Improving Sanitation

Being a responsible bathroom brand, Roca has been committed to the environment, both in the development of its products and in its production processes. With the creation of the ‘We Are Water Foundation’, Roca´s commitment reaches a new level: solidarity with those affected by lack of water & sanitation and help to alleviate the negative consequences of this injustice. K.E. Ranganathan, MD, Roca Bathroom Products Pvt Ltd, gives Clean India Journal an insight into their CSR activities.

In rural India, women not only have limited understanding of menstruation but also face poor access to hygiene solutions and feminine hygiene products. Widespread myths and misconception around it are some of the biggest problems crippling women health among the lower sections of the society. According to studies, it has been found that only 15-18% of India’s menstruating women use sanitary napkins while the rest follow unhealthy practices. They commonly use all kinds of clothes (rags, rejected cloth) as a sanitary napkin in most parts of rural India and in the slums. This is due to lack of awareness of menstrual management and cost.

Initiatives

‘We are Water foundation India’, strives to provide the basic necessity of access to water, sanitation and hygiene to the community. This initiative is an extension of the ongoing flagship campaign ‘Sauchalya Apna, Bitiya ka Sapna’, which is targeted at providing better sanitation and hygiene facilities for women and the girl child. These programmes are inspired by and largely an extension of the government’s Swachh Bharat mission, Beti Padhao Beti bachao, STEP, etc.

For setting-up this project, the foundation has joined hands with Habitat for Humanity India — a non-profit organization that builds homes and provides housing related services to low-income, marginalized families across India.

The initial cost has been borne by the foundation to get the unit started. Once the complete marketing and logistics are completed, the unit will become self-sustainable and will operate independently. This is the first sanitary pad manufacturing unit set-up and is aimed at transforming lives of 50,000 women in slum areas of Delhi NCR by educating them and creating awareness amongst them on sanitation and hygiene through Self Help Group model. They educate women and try to create awareness among them on hygiene and employment opportunity of the project. The message is further passed on to her friends and they get involved as well.

In India, the foundation has actively taken up projects on construction of individual household latrines and school sanitation units, building re-charge wells, providing access to clean and portable water and educating the society in promoting health and hygiene. It has been working actively across 20 countries and taking up unique initiatives to improve living conditions of underprivileged sections of the societies.

“The sanitary pad unit will promote better health & hygiene among the women community and will generate employment opportunities. With this initiative, we hope to bring a small change towards better hygiene and sanitation in India.”

– K.E. Ranganathan

Mediums of awareness

The first and foremost objective is to create awareness amongst the society on the rising issues of sanitation, water health and hygiene, and then adopting measure to curb these. To communicate with the underprivileged sections of the society, a mix of interactive mediums such as infographics, wall paintings, loudspeaker announcements, street plays and behavioural change sessions are required.

Challenges

India is a big country and an emerging economy force at the world stage, but problems such as open defecation, lack of portable drinking water, inadequate hygiene condition, malnutrition still continue to surround us. Majority of projects executed by the foundation are at very remote locations with no or very poor access to basic necessities such as water, electricity, adequate infrastructure for sanitation. The biggest challenge is changing the mindset of that section of the society and bringing in the behavioral shift among them.

In rural India, women not only have limited understanding of menstruation but also face poor access to hygiene solutions…

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