The United Nations has appreciated the Sulabh International for its recent efforts in tackling the sanitation and water problems in India.
On the occasion of the launch of the International Year of sanitation 2008 at the UN headquarters on Saturday, the world body lauded the Indian government and Sulabh International for the positive results of “Total Sanitation Campaign” (TCS). TCS is a comprehensive programme that was initiated in 1999 to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas with the aim of eradicating the practice of open defecation.
Sulabh International is an India-based organisation which works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education.
In his opening remarks at the launch of International Year of Sanitation 2008, the Chairman of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, Prince Willem Alexander who is the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands, said, “In India I also saw the positive results of the Total Sanitation Campaign, a good example of social innovation implemented by the Indian government."
He further added “Sulabh International showed me a good example during my recent visit to New Delhi. This organisation has proved how effective small-scale solutions can be and how they can be extended all over India within a short time span. Thousands of ‘pay & use’ public toilet-cum-bath complexes and more than a million pour-flush latrines in private houses have been built (and are maintained), and they are used by more than ten million people every day.” He further says, “by doing so, Sulabh has restored human dignity and a new future to thousands of untouchables."
Apart from many sanitation experts and UN officials, Sulabh International founder Dr Bindeshwar Pathak was also present on the occasion of the formal launch of International Year of Sanitation 2008.
Pathak, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, kicked off his lavatory mission after he lived with a community of "night soil scavengers" for a few months in the 1970s.
Sanitation for all by 2015 is one of the millennium development goals (MDG) of the United Nations. In the International Year of Sanitation, the UN wants to 'raise awareness of the importance of sanitation and its impact on other millennium development goals'.
Alexander described the water supply and sanitation conditions in slums as "downright appalling". The UN official wanted to "encourage cheaper small-bore sewerage systems, pit emptying facilities, low-cost septic tank sludge treatment methods and the development and marketing of biogas technologies which can help supply many poor households with energy". He reminded his audience of the contribution of sanitation to development.
"Every dollar invested in water and sanitation triggers seven dollars worth of productive activity. And good money can be made from sanitation, through the production of fertilisers," he said.