Johannesburg: The internationally-acclaimed Sulabh sanitation project established by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak across India is to be extended to South Africa to bring these facilities to rural communities. Dr Pathak was a guest speaker at the Gandhi-King-Mandela International Conference 2023 in Pietermaritzburg last week because the model he developed that brought not just sanitation but also dignity to women in India was based on Gandhian principles. He said,
Gandhi spoke about sanitation. In 1919 he said in India that he wanted a clean India and education first; independence later. So, I have invented a technology which has helped to have toilets inside the house. Because of the support of the government of India, every house has a toilet now
Dr. Pathak said that they have also put up public toilets at places like railway stations, bus stops and police stations to solve the sanitation problem of India. He added that,
Those can be applicable and implemented in South Africa because it is a technology that can be implemented globally. This technology is 100 per cent applicable at low cost, because like India, South Africa cannot afford the sewerage systems of a place like America. Those technologies are therefore not helpful in solving the problems of sanitation in our countries
Dr. Pathak also shared how his project had empowered women and changed the lives of the Dalit community, who had been relegated to be toilet cleaners and removers of night soil, being treated as untouchables. Dr. Pathak further said,
This also helped fulfil the dream of Gandhi to uplift the lowest people in society and bring them into the social mainstream
Adding that he was elated about the great interest shown in his exhibition, which included a working small-scale model of how human excrement can be converted into a range of eco-friendly products, including safe drinking water.
Among the many posters displayed at the exhibition forming part of the conference was one showing how a Dalit woman had risen from her life of being a scavenger collecting night soil to empowering herself and other women to the extent that she received India’s highest civilian honour, the Pama Shree, from the President.
Mr. David Gengen, chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Foundation, said that talks have already taken place between the University of KwaZulu Natal’s agricultural division, the local municipality, the Indian Consul General’s office in Durban and the Gandhi Foundation to implement the system in the region. Mr. Gengen said,
This is a very important partnership which we want to roll out to our rural communities. We want to bring Dr Pathak here to train people, but if we can’t bring him here, the Indian government said that they will send some people across to India to be trained there
Mr. Gengen said, adding that the same option will apply for training in solar power to benefit rural communities in the province. He said,
India is one of the leaders in solar power in the villages, where they have a panel powering lights, computers and other things that has dramatically changed the lifestyles of the people in those villages
Mr. Gengen said this would be based on the Barefoot College NGO model, where women from villages are trained as solar engineers, entrepreneurs and educators to bring clean energy to their communities and share their own empowerment with others in their villages.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.