Help solve India’s water and sanitation crisis through a click of the mouse or buying a bottle of toilet cleaner

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:

Slacktivists (a combination of the two words slacker and activist) have long been criticized for being armchair activists doing the bare minimum by just clicking on a Facebook like or sharing a link on Twitter. But they might have their uses.

Domex, the toilet cleaner brand of Hindustan Unilever Lever (HUL), has launched a campaign that consumers can through a simple click of the mouse help contribute Rs 5 to building toilets for underserved communities. This can be done directly on the site or through their Facebook page. The other way for consumers to help tackle the water and sanitation crisis in India is by buying a bottle of the toilet cleaner Domex. For every bottle bought, HUL contributes five per cent of revenues, to sanitation programs of Unicef in India.

The problem:

One of the millennium development goals of the UN is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Currently 2.5 billion individuals around the world have no access to a safe source of drinking water and sanitation. According to UNICEF, lack of access to clean water and sanitation is a leading cause of death from diarrhoea in children under five. Approximately 1,400 children die each day.

More people in India have mobile phones than they have toilets. An estimated 600 million individuals in India or 53 per cent of the population has no access to a toilet. This means more children dying, malnourished, suffering stunted growth or diseased; young girls are unable to attend school and women are harassed or assaulted when they go to defecate in the open.

Water-borne diarrhoeal diseases alone result in annual deaths of about 200,000 children below four years of age in India, according to a recent study published in the Lancet, a medical journal. According to NSSO data, the situation is worse off in rural areas, where only 32 per cent of households have access to toilets.

The Domex Toilet Academy:

HUL launched Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) on November 19 (World Toilet Day), last year with a mission to build 24,000 toilets in 1,200 villages by 2015 in the states of Maharashtra and Orissa.

The first pilot has been launched in Junapani, a village in Wardha district oh Maharashtra. About 80 toilets will be set up by the end of 2013 in an effort to make Junapani an open defecation-free village. The grand ambition of the DTA project is to make open defecation a thing of the past by buliding toilets, and educating people about the importance of safe and hygienic sanitation practises.

For the DTA, Domex has partnered with eKutir Rural Management Services to identify and train local micro-entrepreneurs who will help execute the project in their local communities. Seed capital for these entrepreneurs is pumped in by DTA through eKutir to set up a local sanitation centre and help with operational costs. Local self-help groups will be leveraged to create awareness on the importance of proper sanitation and provide them access to micro-loans to buy the toilets from the micro-entrepreneurs.

Currently DTA has helped build 103 toilets in Orissa and Maharashtra, and the number of contributions has closed in around 20,000.

The partnership:

To execute on its grand vision, The Unilever Foundation and Domestos have joined forces with UNICEF to support UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme.

In select countries the Unilver Foundation and Domestos, proceeds from the sale of Domex, will support UNICEF’s CATS programmes in the Philippines, South Sudan, and Vietnam and will also go towards providing resources to advance efforts to improve sanitation in India, Indonesia and Brazil.


About the author

Journalist with a keen interest in all things social entrepreneurship.

Leave a Reply

Never Miss a Story — Follow Us

Most Popular

Sign Up for the daily YS Newsletter for all the latest updates