WaterAid India partnered with India Today Television to contribute to a weekend series called The Social Change-Makers, which celebrates positive social change throughout India. WaterAid’s programme will look at the impacts of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects funded by HSBC in Lucknow, Kanpur and Dindori. You can watch the programme here

One of the projects showcased in the programme is supporting female entrepreneurship in the village of Lalpur in Lucknow. The project demonstrates that as well as promoting human health and wellbeing, WASH projects can also offer entrepreneurship opportunities through sustainable business models.  

Open defecation (going to the toilet in the open) continues to be a huge challenge India. Over half of India’s 1.28 billion residents still don’t have access to a decent toilet. In 2016, the village of Lalpur made the huge achievement of attaining ‘Open Defecation Free’ status within three months, through intensive community-led mobilisation efforts supported by a wider government campaign.

However, the village still faced increasing problems of waste management and disposal. There was a growing need to educate the community about proper waste management, as well as ensuring the village sustained the open defecation status.

Gyanendra Singh, Gram Pradhan and elected representative said, “Before, I didn’t know much about Solid Liquid Resource Management. When we started working with WaterAid, I learned for example that the cows producing the milk that is supposed to keep us healthy, are the same cows feeding on the rubbish that we throw around which then goes into their stomachs. This is causing sickness. I felt that we should attempt to make the village rubbish free, like we did for open defecation.”

A group of 30 female community members were trained on sustainable waste disposable, and 10 of the women went on to form a Solid Liquid Resource Management Committee. The committee took responsibility for monitoring waste disposal and supporting a clean environment in Lalpur.

The women initiated a door-to-door awareness campaign on waste segregation. After collection, the community’s waste is taken to the Solid Liquid Resource Management Centre where it is sorted into dry and wet waste. Over time, the wet waste is converted into organic soil and put up for sale. The earnings are then distributed equally amongst the members of the Committee, and Lalpur’s residents have been educated on the importance of proper waste disposal.

Gayatri, a member of the Solid Liquid Resource Management Committee, said “Since I started this work, I can manage my expenses on my own and can even contribute for household expenditure.”

This project is not only changing behaviours and mind-sets around maintaining a clean environment, it is also promoting a sustainable business model which is transforming communities by supporting livelihoods and empowering women to be entrepreneurs. The project has helped boost confidence of these women as they are able to earn a living and support their families, and are highly respected by the community for keeping the village clean.

Over the past five years, WaterAid and HSBC have worked together to transform lives in six countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria. Together, we have reached 1.65 million people with clean water and 2.5 million people with sanitation and hygiene. The work funded by HSBC Water Programme allows communities to build skills, increase their productivity and future-proof economies of the regions they live in. Find out more about WaterAid’s work in partnership with HSBC.

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