WASH (Water Sanitation And Hygiene) With CSRMegha | March 29, 2016
Health and sanitation in India has been a point of concern for quite a long time. According to a report published in the Times of India on 9th September 2015, around 1.2 million children under the age of 5 die every year in the subcontinent.
Most of these deaths occur because of preventable waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and are symptomatic of poor waste management.
This is compounded by the fact that over 600 million people defecate in the open in India.
The government, with its ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ campaign, aims at achieving 100% cleanliness in India. The vision is one of better sanitation facilities in both rural and urban centres by 2019. In the budget for the financial year 2016-17, the central government allocated INR 9000 crore towards this drive, a major step in the history of India.
Through a gazetted notification in 2014, the government has also made the involvement of corporates compulsory in this massive drive through the Companies Act of 2014. This makes it compulsory for industries to contribute towards the improvement of health conditions through the vehicle of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Corporations And CSR
Even before the call-to-action by the prime minister, a number of big companies had already adopted CSR measures to better the sanitation and hygiene conditions of India.
CSR divisions of corporations add value through measures like hand-washing awareness campaigns in local schools, constructing toilets and clean-water facilities, and efficiently managing waste.
Case Study: HUL
Hindustan Unilever Limited has undertaken a long-term initiative as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Its objectives, on a global level are:
To help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing
To halve the environmental footprint of their products
To enhance the livelihood of millions of people as the business grows
Water Conservation Drive
India faces a scarcity of pure, drinkable water. To solve this, HUL aims to create a water supply of 500 billion litres by 2020. They’ve set up the Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) to improve the water conservation capacity in India.
Help A Child Reach 5
In 2012, HUL started a program called ‘Help A Child Reach 5’. It involved a massive hand-washing awareness campaign under the banner of their product, Lifebuoy. It aims to bring awareness of the importance of hand washing to at least a billion of people by 2020.
In 2015, HUL reached out to would-be and new mothers, teaching them proper sanitation and hygiene during the natal-period of the first 28 days after birth. This period is extremely crucial to the well-being of the child.
They began their drive in Kerala, and have moved to Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh that has recorded one of the highest number of diarrhea cases in children under 5.
An extremely powerful video, propagating the ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign has gone viral.
Water sanitation and hygiene is one of the top issues India needs to focus on collectively. HUL is a titan that has picked up WASH as their focal point for CSR activities. If more businesses come together to aid the government, the poor water sanitation situation can be tackled sooner rather than later.