Gandhi´s dream, even closer

The unique action carried out by the Foundation in the centre of New Delhi on World Toilet Day proves the high degree of awareness of the citizens in India, a key factor for the overwhelming task of ending open defecation in the Asian country by 2019.

India, the second most populated country in the world offers tremendous contrasts: in one of the most powerful emerging economies, more than 567 million people do not have access to a toilet; 60% of the world population defecates in the open.

On the last World Toilet Day the We Are Water Foundation carried out a unique initiative in India: in an open area, next to a shopping centre in the Saket neighbourhood in New Delhi, very simple silhouettes of people crouching were installed on the floor. Several banners provided information to pedestrians about the severe problem of open defecation around the world and in India, and they were asked to show their support to raise awareness among their fellow citizens of the serious problem suffered by the second most populated country in the world.

The intention was to simulate the building of a hut made of bricks that had been signed as a sign of support; four walls that would cover the crouching silhouettes thus symbolising the need of placing a water closet within the reach of the entire population. A few hours later, the “building” had been finished and 450 messages covered its walls.

We Are Water image

The example of India leads us to believe that it will be possible to attain the Sustainable Development Goal no. 6, thus making sanitation available for all inhabitants of the Earth by 2030. In fact, in India, the programme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan advances this date and establishes 2019 as the new date to achieve it. The 150th anniversary of the birth of India´s father of independence, Mahatma Ghandi, is commemorated this year. He was the one to declare one of the most famous aphorisms related to the human right to water: “Sanitation is more important than independence.

The programme, driven by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is very significant and encouraging as it faces this negative scourge directly and is an example for the international community to end taboos in the process of achieving full access to sanitation. In last year´s World Toilet Day, the We Are Water Foundation organised “Sanitation for all. Ghandi´s dream and India´s challenge”, a debate where Vikram Misri, ambassador of India in Spain, set out the goals of the programme SWACHH Bharat.