We Are Water foundation is a CSR initiative started by Roca to promote awareness and encourage debate among the public and organizations on the need to create a new culture for water, to enable the equitable development and sustainable management of the world’s water resources. The foundation’s fields of activity include involvement in infrastructure, education, health and research, concentrated in the world’s most deprived areas. In an interview with India CSR, KE Ranganathan , Managing Trustee WAWF India and Managing Director, Roca Bathroom Products Pvt Ltd, discusses about Foundation’s activities and vision. Excerpts:
Please tell us about We are water Foundation
Roca, a manufacturer of bathroom products is Spanish company with USD 1.8 billion in terms of turnover. We Are Water foundation is a CSR initiative started by Roca to promote awareness and encourage debate among the public and organizations on the need to create a new culture for water, to enable the equitable development and sustainable management of the world’s water resources. The foundation’s fields of activity include involvement in infrastructure, education, health and research, concentrated in the world’s most deprived areas.
The We Are Water Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2010 at the initiative of Roca. The Foundation work is based on the contribution to solve the global water and sanitation problems, and to promote this universal right, essential to lead a decent and healthy life.
India chapter started in 2016. And since then, we have launched several new projects Pan India while continuing with greater momentum in our ongoing projects in 2019. All of this has been the result of extensive field work; from visiting grass-root organizations to designing customized interventions for local communities.
Actively integrating the local bodies and NGOs has resulted in a sense of ownership in them – a crucial element in driving such projects with sustainable results. In addition to our commitment to the sustainability development goals, we will strengthen and deepen our engagement with diversified stakeholders and enter into new partnerships to continue growing responsibly for the benefit of the We are Water foundation along with the environment and society which we are part of.
Our projects ranges from building sanitation units focusing in government schools in rural and semi urban areas, constructing individual household toilets , skill development program for plumbers , giving water access at remote villages of India, focusing on girl child health and women empowerment etc. With new projects, partnerships, lots of innovations and interesting events, this has been a great time for all of us at We Are Water Foundation, and as we continue our journey, we do it with renewed enthusiasm.
In school villages we have built in toilets and have covered about 44 schools so far end to end by building toilets and 800 IHHL’s. Three lakh people got benefited till date.The foundation objective is to build 1 lakh toilets, over a period of time, because every year we commit certain resources of the company.
How your skilling project helps your mission?
We train people from the plumbing community and focus is women. There are 20 lakh plumbers in India, and have no structure to their education or proper soft skill training. There is no Bachelor of Plumbing there are no course like that. Some colleges have started it.
Indian plumbing skill Council started working to develop the skill sets of plumbers. Our foundation collaborated with them and we together are going to conduct training programs and support them with placement opportunities.
We are going to train about 1600 plumbers for a higher skill level. We are collaborating with IPSC to train about 700 women Pan India. We will train them showcase the products show them how to install, how to maintain how to repair them. The project promises to give placement opportunities for the unskilled youths.
Overall in next one year we have target of 700 women so, and it started with Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad and then it’ll go to various parts of the city various parts of the country. Some of the cities where we have studio will be used and cities where we don’t have, we will use some premises where we will show demonstrate to them, we will take them to our factories, eight factories across the country, and we will make sure we give them the best knowledge – that’s our job.
How do you build water friendly toilets?
We have introduced rim-free technology here in Indian toilets. So the cleaning of the toilets becomes very limited. And lot of water is saved during cleaning of the toilets. Then, we have few products like W+W, which are really high end where when you have to wash the hand with water, it goes into a filtering mechanism and that same water gets used for flushing.
There are various technologies used in our green products to focus on the usage of lesser water per flush compared to an ordinary products due to effective flush from Dual Flush Technology.Also our products offers High quality Polymer cisterns at an affordable price yet water saving with its Dual flush technology, keeping the bathroom classy , affordable and available for anyone.
So this is how we want to build toilets which are water friendly. We have faucets, showers – where again we use technology to make sure that water dispensation is very limited in it.
How do you actually implement sustainability in all the work that you do?
We hand over a project to the village administration. We train them explaining why the hygiene is important and how to maintain them. Behavioural Change sessions are organised with village panchayat, school authorities, local authorities to promote the change.
Healthy Habits of having toilet etiquette can lead to a very healthy living. We teach them, we have pamphlets, we show videos, we show them the product and then we tell them we will come and inspect once in a while. Once in a quarter we go there, inspect and if we find people misuse this facility and not using it properly, we will take it back.
The government is doing its bit- ODF is the talk of the town by 2022. They’ve completed the ODF mission. So we are all trying our best to educate. 10 years later, I’m sure India will be different on the toilet front.
Can you please explain your water supply project in rural areas
The foundation is working on the water supply project for primitive tribal groups called CHENCHUs in villages living in Nallamala forest and school sanitation for the students studying in government schools in P.Dornala area of Srisailam region in Andhra Pradesh.Water tanks, bore wells are constructed to provide water supply in these villages.
Also WAWFI focused on reconstructing ponds and restructure it which are in bad shape. So we pick it up, we clean it up, and then build structures around it so that the water storage is perfect. But we never do continuous giving of water to anybody. That’s not our job. We don’t have water tankers collecting water. We only build tanks,we provide water facility where they people want toilets and training should take place. Reverse osmosis facilities will do because that is helping people to go for drinking potable water. That is also part of our mission.
Your intervention in Sanitary pad manufacturing?
Here our objective is creating Women Entrepreneurship Opportunities through Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Programme. We develop women entrepreneurs by inculcating skills in them for making sanitary napkins with local materials leading to adequate sanitation hygiene awareness in order to become self-reliant and independent.
The project promoted around 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. This programme is for the women belonging to the below poverty line and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society.For the training purposes of making these sanitary napkins, there would be a technical support, co-ordinator and instructor. These sanitary napkins prepared by the respective SHG at low cost would be sold in the same area of production to other women in hope to create a self-sustaining practice for the next six months to one year.