Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has unveiled an urban water, hygiene and sanitation community centre in Azad Nagar, Ghatkopar, one of the largest slum areas in Mumbai. HUL CEO and MD Sanjiv Mehta recently inaugurated the centre.
Named Suvidha, this centre is a purpose-built, sustainable community centre which addresses the hygiene needs of low income urban households, who face severe challenges due to lack of infrastructure and facilities. Suvidha provides toilets with flush, handwashing facilities with soap, clean showers, safe drinking water and state-of-the-art laundry operations at an affordable cost. Suvidha will cater to over 1,500 people living in the area.
The Suvidha centre has been launched on a pilot basis with the aim to provide a holistic approach to address the inter-connected issues of poor hygiene, lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation in urban areas.
Mehta said, “There is an urgent need for innovative solutions that work at scale to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation in India, particularly for the less privileged sections of society. Suvidha is a unique community initiative that aims to address the key challenge of providing people with easy and affordable access to quality hygiene and sanitation facilities in a sustainable manner. The centre would not have been possible without the support of Pratha Samajik Sanstha, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the local community.”
Suvidha uses circular economy principles to reduce water use. Fresh water is first used for brushing teeth, bathing, handwashing and laundry while the waste water from these activities becomes the input for flushing toilets. This will help save an estimated 10 million litres of water per annum.
The launch of Suvidha on World Toilet Day (November 19) reinforces Unilever’s commitment to helping 25 million people gain improved access to toilets by 2020. Together with its partners, Unilever has helped over five million people gain access to a toilet through behaviour change interventions and capacity building initiatives since 2012. Even in Bihar, HUL’s Domex Toilet Academies (DTAs), in partnership with PSI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have helped build over 70,000 toilets in rural households impacting 350,000 people.
Last year, HUL also launched the Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat (Clean Habits Clean India) programme in line with the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) to promote good health and hygiene practices. The Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat programme educates people on the need to adopt three simple but good habits – washing hands five times a day, using toilets for defecation and adopting safe drinking water practices.
These initiatives are in line with the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan global ambition of helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.