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Despite the value of good or improved hygiene and education,strong forces in the form of taboos and stereotypes are hindering progress. So what forces are pushing in the other direction – moving forward rather than holding us back?
We live in a time when innovation and the rethinking of old ways of doing things are shaking up how we live our lives. And it is happening all around us. Seemingly everything – from the way we bank to the way we consume media and even take taxis – is being redesigned, reprioritized and digitized to bemore accessible and more affordable. And with increasing access to the internet and the falling cost of mobile phones, development is quicker than ever. So what does this mean for the future of hygiene?
How can innovation and technology serve as problem solvers and forces for change? And what new behaviors and ways of communicating do they enable that help break the silence on hygiene-related issues?
More than 400 million of India’s 1.2 billion citizens still live in poverty, and India has the largest number of people in the world practicing open defecation. But things are set to change, as Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, has made sanitation and hygiene a top priority.
Through the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, there is a goal to end open defecation practices in India by 2019, well ahead of the UN Sustainable Development Goal target date of 2030. The Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)-supported program in India has been instrumental in establishing methods and practices to enable the realization of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Between 2011 and 2015, open defecation-free (ODF) environments were provided for 726,000 people, two million people were given access to improved toilets, and 3.24 million people to hand washing facilities.
In 2015, the GSF program also supported the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in the organization of the ‘IndovationIII’ conference, for the development and dissemination of sustainable WASH technologies in support of Swachh Bharat. The conference brought together representatives from all State Governments. Approximately 30 innovators showcased their products, and a handbook on innovative technologies was released.