The 14th edition of the World Toilet Summit held in New Delhi, India in January was a game changing summit in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to end the sanitation crisis in India.
Corporates, Government Ministers, NGOs, religious leaders and sanitation experts all came together for the summit in the mood of collaboration at a truly historic moment, joining together to learn and share, and making commitments to action.
The summit, held in partnership with World Education Foundation under the aegis of the Ministry of Urban Development, saw keynote speeches and vibrant, thought provoking, and inspiring conversation about global best practices, previous experiences, evolving technology and solutions, and the way forward for addressing the sanitation challenge in India.
On the inaugural day, Shri. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the summit, stressing the significance of urbanisation and how toilets and sanitation plays a major role for development. He also stressed that 80 percent of the diseases in India are water borne or through water contamination, making it imperative to adopt sanitation programs to keep these diseases in check, and said that a massive construction of toilets was required with the corporation of state and centre.
As well as Mr. Naidu, other eminent participants on the first day included Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Honorable Minister of State for Tourism & Culture; Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Honorable Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting; Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development; Mr. Vijay Goel, Member of Parliament as well as leading sanitation advocate Mr Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization, and Mr Anuraag Saxena, CEO, Asia Pacific, World Education Foundation.
The day saw lively discussions on topics that included: School Sanitation; The Path to a Healthy and Prosperous Nation; Media’s role in building awareness for a Swachh Bharat; and Heritage and Culture as Drivers for Sanitation.
During the second day of the summit, sessions included: ‘Dignity for Girls/ Women through sanitation access; Behavioural change and empowerment; Low cost solutions: Best practices; Implementing innovative solutions to better sanitation; and Sanitation from a privilege to a Right’ with contributions from prominent figures including DRDO (Director) Mr. S Radhakrishnan, and Mr. Sandeep Sethi, Education Officer, Central Board of Secondary Education.
The summit witnessed the participation of various NGOs including World Bank, USAID, World Toilet Organization, BRAC, CLTS, Water.org, WaterAid, Aqua for All, Sulabh International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WASTE, and FINISH Society among others. Representatives from the private sector included Reckitt Benckiser, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Kimberly-Clark Corporation and American Standard Brands.
A resounding message from the speakers, delegates and dignitaries was the need for behavioural change, and driving demand, to go hand in hand with the supply drive in order to end open defecation.
Jack Sim, Founder of World Toilet Organization spoke on the need for behaviour change to complement the massive infrastructure drive at the open ceremony, saying: “To drive demand for toilets, and change habits from going in the open to using a toilet, at a speed commensurate with the rapid supply of toilets and sanitation infrastructure, will require nothing less than a ‘Toilet Cultural Revolution’. Driving behavioural change and building demand for toilets is key to ending open defecation.”
Another recurring theme was the need for collaboration and effective coordination to ensure the success of India’s sanitation drive. Since the summit, World Toilet Organization has been working with its partners and various government ministries on a number of new projects and programs.
One of the key features of the 2-day Summit was the commitments made by NGOs, corporates and even religious leaders. In a remarkable instance of interfaith cooperation, HH Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj and Janab Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, Dewan Saheb, Ajmer Sharif joined hands for the cause of sanitation. Dewan Saheb announced donating his personal land adjacent to the Dargah for building a toilet block, while HH Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj committed the entire expense for building the same.
The summit also featured an expo, where exhibitors showcased new toilet technology, sanitation models, products and services, and sanitation projects in India.
World Toilet Organization would like to say a big thank you to our partners who contributed to the success of the event: to the Ministry of Urban Development for their support, to World Education Foundation, and to our sponsors for their generous support and contributions to the summit: lead Sponsor Reckitt Benckiser, and supporting sponsors Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Hindustan Unilever Limited and American Standard Brands.
And thank you to all of our distinguished speakers and moderators – government ministers, religious leaders, sanitation experts, academics, private-sector representatives, media, NGOs, celebrities and others – for their inspiration, thought leadership and expertise.
Stay tuned for updates on our programs in India, and the next World Toilet Summit!