World Toilet Organisation (WTO) started the world’s first World Toilet College to build capacity in toilet design and maintenance, cleanliness, and sanitation technologies in both urban and rural contexts. In order to tackle poor sanitation, we need to ensure that professionals are trained in the required skills and knowledge, including the design of toilets, technology, building toilets, cleaning and maintenance, eco-sanitation, waste management, and setting up sanitation social enterprises. In late 2015 WTO teamed up with the Global Interfaith Wash Alliance (GIWA), and Reckitt Benckiser (RB), to launch World Toilet College (WTC) in India.
WTC India aims to build capacity develop the skills needed to achieve the Clean India mission. The program will cater to the capacity-building needs of people working at different levels in the sanitation value chain, from middle management government officials to school representatives and childcare-centre workers, to local sanitation workers and community members.
The first class of WTC was held at its Rishikesh campus in India in March 2016, with nearly 50 students in attendance! The class focused on “Community Training of Sanitation Ambassadors”. The main topics included: why toilets are important for your home and community, provision of the Swachh Bharat Mission, how to access government funding for toilets, a DIY toilet-building plan for your home and community, and how to influence others to embrace the concept of toilets.
Trainers and Trainees of the first class at WTC India
The objective at heart of this training programme is aligned with the mission of the college itself, which is to predominantly empower the sanitation workers. Following on this model, the next planned session would be a Training Of Trainers, to impart and promote professional toilet cleaning methods, basic maintenance and repair. The students trained under this course would be equipped to later conduct similar trainings in India.
WTC was initially set up by WTO in Singapore, in response to the growing concerns and demands for better restroom maintenance, improved hygiene and service standards. Since its inception in 2005, WTC has conducted training courses in Singapore, China, Indonesia and India.
“Community Training of Sanitation Ambassadors” class in progress
The WTC in India started with the aim to build capacity for a wide range of professionals ranging from policy makers, engineers, NGO professionals and sanitation workers, to target different stakeholder levels. The approach was to sensitise the locals in an attempt to motivate the use of toilets, while the policy level officials aid with implementation to make this sanitation programme a success. WTC’s programmes also aim to ensure the dignity of sanitation workers and elevate the otherwise poor image (and consequent low pay) of this particular employment category. Equipped with the professional skills on toilet construction, maintenance, cleanliness and repair, the workers can be empowered, ultimately enhancing productivity. WTO aims to achieve this through needs-based, customised training solutions that cater to the need of the target audience.
WTO, GIWA and RB join forces
WTC’s existing proven model is adapted to suit Indian needs keeping the audience in mind. WTC India focuses on the identified gaps in the current training and state-of-play of the sanitation sector, taking into account the cultural aspects. The comprehensive training curriculum combines classroom and field-work to capacitate the new and existing sanitation service providers to attain a world-class standard. The hands-on approach and training elements also help to generate awareness of the benefits of sanitation and sow demand for professional services. The courses offered by WTC aims to address both the urban and rural toilet needs in a holistic approach.
In an attempt to combat a sanitation crisis persistent in most parts of India, in October 2014, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, decided to launch the Swachh Bharat Mission. This was a firm resolution to a “Clean India” by 2019. Unlike previous programmes on sanitation, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) aimed at eradicating open defecation amongst both rural and urban population in India in 5 years. In order to achieve this massive feat, training of a more sensitised and empowered workforce is essential.