In four years, 1.44 crore individuals have been made aware of the significance of accessible sanitation across 14 states and 138 districts in India
1,008 rural families have successfully availed loans amounting to nearly INR 3 Crore to facilitate the construction of accessible toilets in their homes
NEW DELHI: Svayam, a leading accessibility organization in India and part of Jindal SAW’s social and CSR impact efforts, has shared important findings from its Accessible Family Toilet Project. This project, a collaboration with the Foundation for Accessible Aquanir and Sanitation (FAAS), was initiated in 2019 after discovering that 76% of people with mobility challenges in rural India have difficulty accessing sanitation facilities.
Spanning 14 states and 138 districts, the project reached about 1.5 crore people (1% of India’s population) over four years. It involved 24,500 Self Help Groups, Joint Liability Groups, and Community-Based Organizations. Additionally, it trained over 1,554 local plumbers and masons in building accessible toilets.
Svayam’s efforts have made significant strides in preparing rural India for the future by providing accessible sanitation facilities and conducting awareness and training programs.
Bringing Accessible Toilets to Rural India’s Vulnerable
While toilets are recognised as a basic necessity, there are still a staggering number of people with reduced mobility, including senior citizens, people with disabilities, pregnant women, kids, etc., who are deprived of this facility. Recognising this, Svayam conceived the concept of ‘accessible toilets’ and drove awareness at the grassroots level on the significance of accessible toilets in Indian households. With 69% of People with Disabilities (PwD) and 71% of India’s senior citizens residing in rural parts of India, Svayam led the project intending to improve sanitation facilities for the safety, convenience and dignity of these people.
To understand the need for accessible toilets, a comprehensive three-month need assessment survey was conducted in India, revealing the pressing need for accessible sanitation facilities. Shocking statistics emerged, highlighting the challenges faced by those with disabilities and reduced mobility. In India, 22% of people with disabilities earn less than 3000 per month.
Indicating that apart from awareness of what accessible toilets entail, there was also a need for awareness of sanitation loans that are provided through microfinance models such as Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Joint Liability Groups (JLGs) and others.
Sminu Jindal on Svayam’s Impact: Accessible Toilets as a Universal Need
Shedding light on this transformative endeavour, Sminu Jindal, Founder – Chairperson of Svayam and Managing Director of Jindal SAW Ltd., shares, “At Svayam, we firmly believe that accessibility is an inherent human need and an undeniable right for every individual. Our extensive four-year project has shattered myths that accessibility isn’t solely essential for individuals with disabilities; it is necessary for all. Through this project, we’ve witnessed the willingness of rural communities to invest their savings and even take loans to fulfil this fundamental need—accessible toilets at home. What’s truly remarkable is the staggering 99.0% repayment rate, a testament to the unwavering commitment of borrowers towards enhancing their quality of life.”
Sminu Jindal, Founder – Chairperson of Svayam & Managing Director of Jindal SAW Ltd
Over 1,000 Families Benefit from Accessible Toilet Initiative
The impact of the initiative on individuals has been substantial, with over 1,008 families having successfully availed loans amounting to nearly INR 3 Crore to facilitate the construction of accessible toilets in their homes. The project initially commenced in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Odisha. Encouraged by the impact on the beneficiaries, with the assistance of 14 Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), the project expanded to an additional nine states including, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, and West Bengal.
Further, this project’s success prompted Svayam and NHFDC Foundation to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to expand it to 17 Swalamban Kendras across seven northern states of India. Kicking off this collaboration, the inaugural activity conducted in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh, focusing on training plumbers and masons to construct accessible toilets. Concurrently, a village-wide survey is underway by the NHFDC Foundation. Impressively, 70% of the families taking the survey have expressed keen interest in obtaining loans to upgrade their toilets.
NDFDC’s Accessible Toilets Project in Kannauj
Naveen Shah, the Chairman and Managing Director of NDFDC, emphasized the joint commitment of Svayam and NDFDC Foundation towards enhancing accessibility and inclusivity for all, including individuals with mobility challenges. He highlighted their plan to develop a model village in Kannauj District, Uttar Pradesh, focusing on implementing accessible toilets in households that need them. Shah also noted the positive response from the village survey, indicating a readiness to embrace improved living conditions.
Svayam’s findings and experiences have been myth-breaking, demonstrating that people in India’s villages are eager to embrace a more inclusive and accessible lifestyle. At a time when the importance of sanitation is often taken for granted, these accessible toilets address crucial matters of safety and hygiene, empowering families to lead healthier, better lives. Svayam is tirelessly expanding its efforts to create greater awareness about accessible toilets, aiming to magnify its impact across India.
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