Multi-billion dollar personal care products firm Kimberly-Clark is hoping to change the approach and impact of private sector initiatives in the sanitation space. Instead of building toilets, it has taken up refurbishing and rebuilding work on existing not-in-use toilets.
The initiative, in partnership with not-for-profit Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India, was launched on 28 April at a primary school in the Chandanhola area of Delhi.
Called ‘Toilets Change Lives’, the initiative is part of the company’s global sanitation drive. In India, it covers 100 schools across five states—Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
According to Achal Agarwal, president-Asia Pacific region at Kimberly-Clark , while 90% of government schools across India have toilets, over 40% of them are not functional. “In our research we found this lacuna of unusable and dysfunctional toilets. And that is why decided, in order to have real impact, we need to focus on ensuring the sustainability of the toilets,” he added.
Kimberly-Clark found that the main reasons for toilets not being used is poor maintenance.
The firm’s partner lauds the effort of going beyond building toilets. Meenakshi Batra, chief executive, CAF India, said, “Maintenance of toilets and generating awareness among students, parents, community representatives and teachers are equally important components, which will help in long-term sustainability of the program and contribute to the behavior change aspect of the Swachh Bharat campaign.”
Kimberly-Clark is best known for its hygiene and personal care products like sanitary napkins (Kotex) and face tissues (Kleenex).