Spreading the message of swachh aadat across the country brand stories hindustan times

For any nation-building project to triumph, it is essential that every stakeholder contributes to the initiative. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one such mission that has seen significant efforts on the part of governments, NGOs, and corporates to spread the message of cleanliness.

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), India’s largest fast moving consumer goods company, has also been educating the masses about the importance of sanitation. Having served Indians for 85 years, HUL’s brands, by virtue of their product characteristics and market position, are natural thought leaders when it comes to health and hygiene.

For instance, Domex Toilet Academy is an on-ground sanitation intervention that deployed an entrepreneurial development model to build over one lakh toilets. A behavioural change programme is currently being implemented in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh to increase usage and proper maintenance of toilets.

The Lifebuoy handwashing behavioural change programme is among the largest such initiatives in the world. It helps promote the benefits of handwashing with soap on key occasions and encourages people to stick to the habit. The programme is run with the help of NGOs such as the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and has reached more than 63 million Indians.

For creating lasting behavioural change in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), building infrastructure like toilets and hand wash stations in schools alone wouldn’t suffice. There needs to be a focus on behavioural change, too, and that is where HUL plays a significant role.

Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat is HUL’s movement to provide the missing link in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme—behavioural change. The focus is on handwashing, purification of water, and usage and maintenance of clean toilets. Swachhata Doot, Swachh Basti programme, and the Swachhata curriculum are some of the initiatives launched under the campaign.

The Swachh Aadat curriculum is a 21-day behavioural change curriculum, whereby primary school students are educated about the importance of clean habits. The programme is taught in classrooms with the help of teachers for approximately 20 minutes for 21 continuous days. It combines classroom teaching with activities, games, and characters such as Chamatkari Sonu (a superhero) and Kitabyutor (kitab + computer). It has so far been taught in schools in parts of rural Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The Suvidha Centre is a first-of-its-kind urban water and sanitation community centre that addresses the hygiene needs of people from low-income urban households. It provides flush toilets, handwashing facilities with soap, clean showers, safe drinking water, and laundry facilities at significantly lower costs than that of the market. The first Suvidha Centre in Azad Nagar, Ghatkopar, one of the largest slums in Mumbai, has been running for more than a year and has attained operational sustainability. The ‘Suvidha’ project will be expanded with more such centres being built in other slums of Mumbai.

HUL also partners with NGOs, development organizations, and the government to achieve common goals in the field of hygiene. For example, HUL is the lead partner for all WASH behavioural change projects under the Village Social Transformation Mission. The latter is an initiative of the Maharashtra government and top private sector companies to develop the 1,000 most backward gram panchayats of the state based on their Human Development Index.

HUL has created lasting changes in the lives of many Indians, thereby contributing to the ideals of the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development (Goal 3 being good health and well-being and Goal 6 being clean water and sanitation) and the Swachh Bharat Mission.