Change Magazine January 2018 Issue - Page 60

management of water and sanitation for all remains one of the most important missions for the world especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. In other words, the popularization of public toilets may symbolize development in both economy and civilization. From the individual level, good sanitation infrastructure means more than personal health. In India for example, 11% of schools lack basic sanitation facilities and only 18% of schools set separate cubicles in girls’ toilets, which might be inconvenient for girls during their menstrual periods. This has led to embarrassment and class absences. Therefore, to some extent, good toilets might indicate dignity and privacy. India’s Toilet Revolution As pointed out, sanitation and hygiene problems seem urgent in emerging economies. Apart from China, other developing countries have also put emphasis on addressing these problems. India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (http://swachhbharatmission.gov. in/sbmcms/index.htm) launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2014 has been leading the country’s toilet revolution. As a mission that aims to eliminate open defecation by 2019, SBM has earned unprecedented support from both the public and private sector. The Indian government has mobilized more than $25 billion to promote the construction and use of double-pit pour-flush latrines and to create a database that covers every household. Eram Scientific Solutions (ESS) is playing a leading role in the field of social innovation. The social enterprise has already won the support of Bill & Melinda Gate’s Foundation and has installed over 1,600 e-Toilets in 18 Indian states. The e-toilets designed by ESS work on the basis of multiple censors and a special program that allows it to operate automatically. E-toilets are able to control the frequency and volume of flushing according to the real usage which could be tracked via the built-in GPRS network and the control center. According to the official data, by October 2017, 268,342 villages, 225 districts and 7 states has become free from open defecation. However, the usage rate of public toilets is still low in India due to people’s misunderstanding of toilets and religious beliefs. Toilet Revolutions and Social Innovation The toilet revolutions in China and India both follow a typical mode. First, the revolution is advocated by government. It is then participated in by the public and driven by business, accompanied by innovative changes. It should be noted that apart from providing political and financial support for the construction of toilets, governments also have a decisive impact on the toilet revolutions About the Author Junzhe Shen just completed his postgraduate programme in Political Economy of Emerging Markets at King’s College London. His research areas include Energy Trade and Social Entrepreneurship. He hopes to contribute to the development of grassroots organizations especially in emerging markets where the voice is still low. 56 Change Magazine January 2018 www.changemag-diinsider.com from other unseen aspects. For example, the construction of infrastructure financed by government, especially supplies of water and electricity, is the prerequisite for the operation of public toilets. Moreover, spreading sanitation knowledge through education is also a long-term solution for the revolution. However, this does not mean that social innovation is marginal. Instead, the stories of Yuting Foundation in China and Eram Scientific Solutions in India, have proven that non-governmental organizations are able to better meet people’s real needs by making the most of cutting- edge technologies as well as modern business models, which could promote the efficiency and intellectual level of toilet operations. Furthermore, as not all countries can enjoy governmental support, the involvement of social power can be vital to address its public health challenges. For instance, WaterAid in partnership with HSBC Water Programme has reached 1.6 million people in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and other developing countries with safe, hygienic toilets. Overall, the toilet revolutions in emerging economies still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, with governments and societies striving together, beneficial outcomes of these revolutions will change the life of more people in the foreseeable future. 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