India hosts the 18th World Toilet Summit in Mumbai

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MUMBAI: With an endeavor of providing sustainable and affordable sanitation solutions to eradicate open defecation practices in the world, World Toilet Organization (WTO), a global non-profit body, is hosting the World Toilet Summit in Mumbai, India. In its 18 years legacy of continuously working towards reducing the gap between the government, corporate organisations, and civil society, the World Toilet Summit, this year has come to India for the third time, with the theme ‘Can the world be ODF by 2030’, with LIXIL as the main summit host and RB as Swachh Bharat partners.

With the success of government led Swachh Bharat Mission, India serves as a learning ground for the international WaSH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) community and has hosted the World Toilet Summit twice previously – in 2007 and 2015. This year, supported by Government of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra shared his thoughts through a video message.

In his address, Shri Fadnavis said, ”It gives me immense pleasure to share that now Maharashtra has become 100% open defecation free (ODF), 55% of which has been covered since 2014. After becoming ODF, we have given plans of sustainability to every Village Panchayat, encouraging them by presenting awards every year, even kids engaged themselves in awareness drive. We also did a lot of work on clean water & all this lead to creation of jobs, economic development. Now, rural area is witnessing major transformation with this and many other initiatives.”

“I am happy to see the efforts by World Toilet Organization and their partners in taking necessary steps to achieve ODF status. I am sure with the given pace, we will make ODF India by 2019, as planned by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.” He added.

During the Summit, Mr. Hiranya Borah, DDG, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation received World Toilet Peace Prize on behalf of the government.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that about 2.3 billion people in the world do not have access to clean, safe and reliable toilets. This number is 732 million in India. They have to walk for miles every day to reach a safe spot where they can relieve themselves in the open. This leads to exposure of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma. In addition, inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280, 000 deaths worldwide, annually. Not only this, open defecation leads to rapes, humiliation and school drop-outs, especially for females. Keeping this in mind, the Summit provided sustainable solutions, in terms of comprehensive behavioural change strategy that focuses on changing the mindset of people and eradicating the current open-defecation habit.

Sharing his thoughts on successfully organizing the Summit in India, Mr. Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization, said, “The problem of open defecation is not only restricted to India. Not only it has taken lives of many, it has impacted the honor as well. Hence, it is important for everyone to work unanimously and contribute to achieve the 100% open defecation free.  We believe in the necessity of a comprehensive behavioral change strategy to focus on bringing the change in the mindset of people and also provide sustainable solution for easy access. We are certain that the summit successfully conveyed a strong message to address current sanitation challenges in India and the world.”

The two day summit witnessed keynote speeches and panel discussions from thought leaders and subject matter experts, insightful paper and poster presentations, and awards for innovation and leadership in different categories across the WaSH sector.  It also facilitated international stakeholder discussions and policy interventions by bringing government, corporate and civil society on one global platform. Keeping the objective to bring behavioral change in terms of usage and proper maintenance of toilets, reaching 100% WaSH coverage in households and schools and emphasize role of design and innovations through alleviating WaSH challenges, the summit also included major discussion on funding innovation to sustain the ODF status.

Present on the occasion Jin Montesano, Chief Public Affairs Officer, LIXIL Group and the keynote speaker at the summit said; “We are proud to host the World Toilet Summit this year in India. The government-backed Swachh Bharat Mission has generated significant interest in addressing the urgent sanitation issue in India, not only with traditional actors such as international organizations, but also with the private sector. The government’s efforts have enabled the rise of a new sanitation economy. In fact, the Toilet Board Coalition estimates that the sanitation economy in India today is set to double to an estimated US $62 billion by 2021. Leading private sector firms are taking a greater interest in the sanitation economy, and we are no less engaged with our own SATO line of innovative products, which aim to tackle the barriers to safe sanitation.”

Rob de Groot, President, Hygiene Home, RB, said, “RB has a long-standing collaboration and partnership with the World Toilet Organization with the aim of making the world Open Defecation Free by 2030. Together we have launched the World Toilet College, an institution dedicated to building skills and capabilities, providing dignity to sanitation workers. The World Toilet Summit brings together experts across sanitation and hygiene disciplines to expediate the change needed to help deliver a cleaner world. We hope through this platform; more organisations and individuals join us in making a positive impact.”

Sharing his thoughts at the event, Akshay Kumar, Swachhta Ambassador, Harpic said, “I am pleased to see more and more people joining the movement that our honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, started four years ago. We have seen a major transformation taking place in India owing to the Swachh Bharat Mission. I am proud to associate with Harpic in spreading the message of sanitation across the country. But we still have a long road ahead of us and I urge everyone to contribute at their individual level to sensitize people about the consequences of open defecation and the importance of clean toilets.

Some of the prominent speakers like Manisha Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra, India, Dr. Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Swachh Bharat Mission, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rob de Groot, President – Hygiene Home, RB, Jin Song Montesano, Chief Public Affairs, LIXIL Group, were a part of the summit and addressed the key sanitation problems the world has been facing.

The summit was co-hosted with LIXIL and was in collaboration with Dettol Banega Swachh India, Merino Laminates and Ecosan Services Foundation; and witnessed participation from various stakeholders including government representatives, international institutions, industry experts and other development organizations.

Founded on November 19, 2001, The World Toilet Organization (WTO), a global not-for-profit, is committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide. WTO established the World Toilet Summit in 2001, followed by World Toilet College in 2005. Through its initiatives, WTO continues to provide an international platform for toilet associations, government, academic institutions, UN agencies and corporates to exchange knowledge in an effort to promote sanitation and public health policies.

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