What do you think when you hear the word "toilet”? It is a word which may invite disgust, amusement or even ridicule, but those affected by the ongoing global sanitary crisis would disagree. According to statistics published by WHO/UNICEF in 2021, 3.6 billion people in the world lack access to hygiene and safely managed toilets.
This means that roughly half of the global population are unable to respond to the call of nature the way you and I can. Disturbingly, a large portion of the world’s open defecators—a number exceeding 600 million—reside in South Asia. In Bangladesh, less than half of the toilets in the country can truly be categorized as usable. In any community where there are little to no safe and healthy toilets, everyone suffers. That is why, this year’s theme for the World Toilet Day campaign is Valuing Toilets.
On the occasion of World Toilet Day 2021, leading toilet cleaner Harpic, together with Bangladesh Scouts, organized a lively awareness campaign for school children in Brahmanbaria and distributed toilet hygiene products at Niaz Muhammad High School, located in the district headquarters. This is part of Harpic’s ongoing endeavors, over the years, to uphold and advocate for safe sanitation systems for all.
Data from UNICEF tells us that, although 84% of all Bangladeshi schools are equipped with toilets, only an alarming 24% are clean enough to be usable. The theme of this year’s World Toilet Day, “Valuing Toilets,” highlights the fact that toilets, and their supporting sanitation systems, are underfunded, ill-managed or neglected in many parts of the globe. Understandably, this has significant adverse effects, particularly in the most underprivileged and marginalized communities.
This was the primary motivator behind Harpic's initiative to make school children aware of the importance of toilet hygiene. Thanks to the attendance of Harpic goodwill brand ambassador and actor Riaz Ahmed, the students of Niaz Muhammad High School were filled with inspiration as they took a hygiene oath, attended a class led by Mr. Riaz in toilet hygiene and participated in a colorful and vibrant rally with the theme of World Toilet Day.
Harpic recognizes that this crisis is not simply a matter of being able to respond to the call of nature. Poor sanitation is the cause of water sources being contaminated and in turn causing further disease and degradation.
The role played by the leader in toilet cleanliness, Harpic, in contributing to awareness about the importance of safe toilets is remarkable in a corporate landscape where social responsibility is still a largely incipient concept. Through World Toilet Day campaigns past, present and future, Harpic has made it their mission to acquaint the world with the importance of safe and affordable sanitation facilities with various campaigns throughout the year. In this way, they are doing their part in helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
In 2021, nearly all developed countries have achieved universal access to sanitation, but the situation is not so rosy in developing countries. It is the right of every person residing on this planet to inhibit a hygienic environment, and thereby live a safe, healthy and dignified life.
As a forerunning manufacturer of hygiene and health products, Harpic’s parent company Reckitt is taking the reins on this issue through various social responsibility endeavors such as this one throughout the world. Through raising awareness and taking decisive action in making safe sanitation a reality for underprivileged communities, and in bringing about behavioral changes towards health and hygiene, Reckitt is paving the way forward for other corporations to follow suit.
Shehrin Hossain Shiny