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World Toilet Day 2022

[Friday, 18 November]

 

Statement by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj

Permanent Representative of India to the UN

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H.E. The Deputy Secretary General,

H.E. Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, 

Permanent Representative of Singapore, 

H.E. Prof. Tijjani Muhammadad-Bande, 

Permanent Representative of Nigeria, 

H.E. Ambassador Yoka M.G. Brandt, 

Permanent Representative of The Netherlands,

H.E. Ambassador Jonibek Hikmat, 

Permanent Representative of Tajikistan,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

India is pleased to join Singapore and Nigeria in organising this important discussion on the occasion of World Toilet Day. We are delighted to have the two co-hosts of the UN Water Conference 2023 with us. May I also thank UN-Water for their steadfast support.

 

Excellencies, 

 

2.    We are eight years away from the 2030 timeline of the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The commemoration of World Toilet Day under the theme ‘Invisible to Visible’ is thus an apt reminder of the distance to cover towards SDG Goal 6. The theme also ties in to the theme of World Water Day commemorated earlier this year, underlining the importance of groundwater and its sustainable use as a resource. The question to ask therefore is: Where are we on providing access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, while ensuring that water is conserved and used efficiently? And what has been the India experience? 

 

3.    Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the Clean India nationwide campaign on 20 October 2014 which, inter alia, aimed at encouraging clean sanitation habits in rural areas through mass scale behavior change, construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing mechanisms for monitoring toilet construction and usage. By 2019 over 100 million toilets were constructed, and the campaign moved to Phase II where the focus was on greater hygiene awareness, providing sufficient water connections for sanitation systems and ensuring treatment and recycling of waste. We also addressed the bigger question of waste treatment in cities, including mandatory garbage segregation, removal of landfill sites and composting. 

 

4.    In 2019, India also launched the Jal Jeevan Mission, with an aim to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections to all households in rural India by 2024. This was designed to complement the Clean India campaign and tackle the current and future challenges of water and sanitation in India. Sustainability is woven into these missions as a mandatory element, including through recharge and reuse via grey water management, water conservation, and rainwater harvesting. 

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

5.    The spirit of mass involvement has been essential to the success of India’s approach to water and sanitation. The importance of a community-based grassroots approach cannot be over emphasized. The role of women, as leaders and drivers of initiatives, has also been crucial in ensuring a lasting imprint of Clean India in every household. Technology and innovation for water and sanitation has undergirded our methods, given also the varied geography and climatic conditions in India. Finally, we have focused on establishing institutional arrangements with emphasis on education and training.

 

6.    In this regard, we are pleased to see that Water for Health and Water for Sustainable Development are the themes of two interactive dialogues for the UN Water Conference in March 2023, and we do hope to be able to share some of our experiences on this occasion.

 

Excellencies, 

 

7.    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently launched the Mission LIFE campaign in Gujarat in India in the presence of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. LIFE is an initiative for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, driven by the concept of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ which can help in striking a balance between development, economic growth and sustainability. The idea is to encourage people to pick pro-planet sustainable choices in their daily lives, to live sustainably and reduce their environmental footprint. All of us, individuals and communities, can – and must – be part of the solution of protecting our planet and our collective future.

 

8.    The Indian Prime Minister has often quoted the linkage Mahatma Gandhi had made between cleanliness and ‘Swaraj’ or self-rule, during India’s freedom movement. He has stated that “Only the courageous and people devoted to cleanliness can bring in Swaraj”. In other words, without cleanliness there can be no self-confidence and no sense of real freedom.  

 

9.    As we commemorate World Toilet Day 2022 and with eyes fixed firmly on the SDG 2030 Agenda, let us continue to press forward towards sustainable solutions for our communities. 

 

Thank you!

 

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