In an inspiring stride towards transforming sanitation practices, President Draupadi Murmu is championing a visionary programme set to redefine hygiene norms in 10 districts of Odisha. This ground-breaking venture, known as the Harpic School Sanitation Programme, is not merely addressing immediate health concerns but also sets the course for a cleaner, healthier and more equitable future.
At its heart, this initiative acknowledges that children are the linchpin in shaping society’s sanitation norms. It is designed to fortify these practices among key changemakers—our children.
With a courageous mission to impact nearly 1.6 million beneficiaries, including schoolchildren, educators, parents and communities by 2024, this initiative promises transformational change.
By instilling sanitation practices in children from a young age, the programme seeks to cultivate lifelong habits that enhance hygiene behaviour. Children are often catalysts for change within their families. Equipped with sanitation knowledge, they can become change agents, spreading awareness and promoting healthier practices.
Educating children about sanitation lays the groundwork for a lasting impact on future generations. Arming kids with knowledge and skills regarding hygiene, sanitation and proper toilet usage establishes the foundation for a cleaner, healthier society.
Children are more vulnerable to sanitation-related diseases and health issues. The programme’s focus on children aims to bolster their health by diminishing the risk of infections and preventable illnesses linked to inadequate sanitation practices.
Involving children in sanitation campaigns empowers them to take control of their health and hygiene. This fosters self-assurance and equips them with indispensable life skills.
Beyond individual behaviour change, the Harpic School Sanitation Programme aspires to bring about systemic change. It champions child-friendly sanitation facilities in schools, pushes for policy shifts prioritising children’s well-being, and mobilises resources for sustainable infrastructure development.
Embarking on this sustainable and forward-looking journey, in pursuit of collaboration with esteemed organisations, the programme strives to integrate its curriculum into national initiatives, ensuring a broader reach and a lasting influence. It explores innovative solutions in select districts to foster good practices that can be replicated nationwide.
As the mission to strengthen sanitation in Odisha picks up, it also lays the foundation for a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous India. It promises to transform lives, beginning with children—the future sanitation champions.
The Harpic School Sanitation Programme signifies more than just an educational endeavour; it represents a movement brimming with the promise of a brighter, more hygienic and sustainable future for all of India.
Saurabh Jain is Regional Marketing Director & SPOC, Reckitt Hygiene India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka, and he has co-authored the column with Biju Panda, Chairman, Amar Jyoti Yuvak Sangha, an NGO.