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How six toilets can change worlds

November 16, 2021By
People gathered to celebrate in Jaipur, India

November 19th marks The United Nations’ World Toilet Day, celebrating toilets and raising awareness of the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. Lacking access to safe toilets threatens entire communities’ health. Poor sanitation has wide-reaching implications that result in contaminated drinking water, rivers, beaches, and food crops which spread deadly diseases throughout the population. This sanitation crisis is particularly relevant in India, a country that has made strides, but still struggles to provide access to toilets for its citizens.

To mark this special observance, we wanted to share the impact toilets have made in the Traction on Demand (ToD) India community. In 2020, our team in Jaipur, India worked to install separate boys’ and girls’ toilets in our adopted school. The effects are far-reaching and ensure that no child will miss class due to poor sanitation. With schools fully reopening in November 2021 following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across India, we visited the school to celebrate World Toilet Day and to see the impact our team has made through improved sanitation.

India’s sanitation crisis

In 2015, nearly half of India’s population of 570 million people did not have access to proper toilets, accounting for half of the 1.2 billion globally who are forced to defecate in public. Each year, millions of people, particularly children, suffer from diarrheal and waterborne diseases as a result of exposure to contaminated water and lack of regular handwashing. This sanitation crisis causes nearly 100,000 diarrhoeal deaths in children five and under every year.

India has made significant progress to ensure increased access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. The launch of programs like the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign) increased awareness around sanitation and hygiene. As a result, more toilets were constructed around the country, decreasing the number of people without access to toilets by an estimated 450 million.

However, the challenge still remains with over 130 million Indians struggling to access clean water and sanitation facilities. The country spends a mere 3.5% of its GDP on healthcare and the country’s poorest citizens, especially its children, remain at risk. Today, 22% of Indian schools do not have appropriate toilets for girls, 58% of preschools do not have toilets at all, and 56% of preschools lack clean water on the premises.

Community engagement with far-reaching effects

In 2019 our team in Jaipur adopted the Government Upper Primary School in Nevta village, seven kilometers from our office. The school offers free education to 88 children, grades one to eight. However, like many government schools, it lacks funding for basic facilities like clean drinking water and toilets.

When adopting the school, we wanted to ensure quality education in our community and improve the overall learning experience.

Children learning at school in India

Providing a safe and hygienic education experience

Previously, there were only two small spaces that functioned as toilets without running water and children lacked basic hygiene knowledge. As a result, many students resorted to using open spaces as toilets, exposing the community to sanitation-related illnesses. The facilities were a particular issue for female staff and students who were concerned with the lack of privacy, and many students chose not to attend class.

As girls, we were always anxious to use the old dilapidated toilets as we felt unsafe without a roof. The dingy structure also scared us because it was dark and animals would often enter the space.Riya Jangid, 7th grade student

In September 2020, ToD, with the support of the local community, began work on the construction of two sets of three separate toilets for girls and boys. Looking to further engage the community, we partnered with Lioness Tiles, a B-Corp certified company that works with local women to make handmade tiles.

Providing running water for regular hand washing and cleaning was a key aspect of this initiative and a dedicated tank was installed on the roof of the toilets. The ToD India team is proud to have constructed these vital facilities to create hygiene awareness among children during a time that health and cleanliness are so imperative due to COVID-19.

Girls and boys toilets in Jaipur school

Back to school and an improved, safer campus

Today, the six separate toilets for girls and boys stand as a symbol of pride for the school and the local community of Nevta Village. As the school reopened this month, the children couldn’t hide their excitement around the new addition to their campus.

There is a new sense of confidence in the children. The toilets serve not just a need for cleanliness and hygiene, but also enhance the school-going experience of children.Anil Sharma, Headmaster

What’s next for ToD India’s Impact team?

World Toilet Day reminds us of how simply constructing toilets can make such an impact on a community.

Next up at the school, we’ll be working on paving the entryway, developing a running track, and installing clean drinking water filters and solar lights.

ToD’s global workforce looks forward to continuing to make an impact in the Jaipur community; “For ToD’s adopted school in particular, there is a lot in the pipeline. We are dedicated to making the school a model for other government schools to follow, and an example of what successful corporate social initiatives are capable of,” says Manpreet Singh, Managing Director ToD, India.

Curious about how we change worlds?

Learn more about social impact initiatives at ToD.