“A lot of newly contributed toilets, some of them even quite fancy ones, will be rendered useless if not maintained well,” avers A. Sudhakar, Head-Global Human Capital & CSR-Dabur India Ltd during an interaction with Suprita Anupam.
With big initiatives, such as Digital India, Made in India and Clean India announced last year, India Inc. has responded very positively to the change of guard at the Centre. However, the ‘Sensex’ is yet to reflect ‘the’ spirit. Are we celebrating too much, too early?
The Indian Economy is in a relatively brighter spot in the global context as compared to where it was nearly a year ago. Looking at a macro-economic crisis at the beginning of the 2014-15 financial year, the tide has changed with the emergence of political stability at the Centre. The general mood too has turned upbeat.
Despite a marked buoyancy in consumer confidence, the growth in consumption across sectors has been rather muted as consumers are holding on to their purse-strings. As a result, the demand situation in the early part of the current fiscal was not very upbeat. But we are witnessing some recovery now and the overall outlook looks a little bit brighter.
Efficacy of Investments made under CSR is questionable. Can we find a way to close the grey areas?
True, many companies have joined the PM’s call and committing investments towards building toilets, but not much thought is being given to the maintenance of these toilets. And that is sad. Because a lot of these new toilets will be rendered useless if companies don’t focus on their proper maintenance.
That’s the reason why we have been taking cautious and calculated steps in our CSR programmes which are aimed at sanitation. Our initiatives are an intrinsic part of the Dabur CSR Policy and have been put in place after detailed consultations with the community. We have initiated the process of identifying schools in selected 2 villages in rural Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), five villages in Rudrapur (Uttarakhand) and two villages in Baddi (Himachal Pradesh). Separate toilets are being constructed for boys and girls.
Alongside, we are also developing a sustainable model for regular maintenance of these school toilets to ensure that these toilets are not rendered useless. To address this issue, we have decided to financially support the poor households in construction of toilets in their homes and also to educate them about proper use of toilet, regular cleaning of toilet and the need for proper washing of hands after using it. We are providing a cleaning kit consisting of Cleaning Brush, Sanifresh and Odonil as a token of appreciation to the families in whose households the toilets are constructed.
Dabur and its CSR arm, Sustainable Development Society (SUNDESH) have developed a project by involving community-based organizations with the following objectives to eliminate the problem of open defecation in villages.
The objective is not only to address health & sanitation issues of poor families, but also to improve social status of rural women. To achieve this, a number of initiatives such as financial support, awareness meetings and providing cleaning kit have been taken.
Through the village meetings, with Self Help Groups (SHG) and Kisan club members, Sundesh representatives motivate the villagers towards changing their habit of open defecation. In order to bring in a degree of ownership, we do not sponsor the complete amount. Instead, we fund only half the cost of constructing the toilet, while the balance is to be borne by the individual household. Also, the financial support is given to the woman of the household through an account payee cheque. The financial support is given in two instalments, with the first cheque given after the pit is constructed and the second instalment once the entire construction is completed.