Changing The Public Toilets Landscape Into A Smart Hi-Tech Asset Of Future Public Sanitation

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Give Us An Overview About GARV Toilets, Why Did You Plan To Make GARV Toilets And How?

Growing up in India, each one of us has realized that there is an immense shortage of well-maintained public toilets and it becomes a matter of dignity especially for women if they are not able to access toilet facilities. I also faced the same issue while pursuing my master’s degree from the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), when we use to go to far-flung villages for our training segments. The problem of the unavailability of toilets was right in our face. Moreover, my professional background apart from managing social projects has been into manufacturing products for the electronics and electrical industry. I always wanted to develop hardware products that could benefit the BOP communities in accessing essential facilities. The launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission became one of the key trigger points for us. We sensed that we could develop a social business here, while we did our research, we got to know that the situation on the ground was alarming. In 2015, half of the world’s open defecators were in India. That is about 600 million people and about 800 children who used to die every day globally because of diarrheal diseases, spreading out because of the unavailability of hygienic toilets. These grave data points cemented our resolve to work towards the improvement of sanitation facilities and hygiene standards.

What Is So Unique About GARV Toilets?

GARV’s focus was towards plugging the gaps in the public toilet infrastructure sector, which primarily were frequent vandalism and irregular maintenance. Now, this is where we designed our prototypes with prefabricated metal enclosures, where stainless steel, is used as the prime raw material, every nut and bolt, every assembly was of stainless steel. Once fabricated in a factory, this toilet was ready to be installed on sites in a few hours. Moreover, here we also came out with a product that was hard to vandalize.

We also integrated our toilet hardware with new-age technology like sensors for enabling auto-flush, auto-floor cleaning, touch-free hand washing and the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which helped us to fetch data out of the toilets in real-time. Now, we were also able to monitor our toilet assets to check whether they are being maintained properly, or not, we started tracking the daily number of users, hygiene habits, the volume of water used, malfunctions, etc.

Making a ‘yucky unnecessary asset to a smart asset’ was quite an eventful journey for us.

How are you delivering CSR and where?

We work extensively with CSR partners, we have worked with a few of the biggest names, in delivering quality sanitation services through our smart toilets. Our partners include ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, Unilever, SBI Cards, GE capital, Coca-cola foundation, united way, Aga khan Network, Samhita, Unilever, Kimberly Clarke, Collective Good Foundation, India Trade promotion organization, ICICI Bank Ltd etc.

We have reached the nooks and corners of our country and installed GARV toilets for government school children, slum communities, support institutions, refugee camps, and quarantine camps as a part of various CSR initiatives. Currently, GARV toilet installations are present in 11 states in India.

What Is Your Take On CSR Activities Related To Hygiene-Related Issues In India?

In times that we are living today, it has become more pertinent for us to focus on providing quality sanitation facilities and good hygiene to the most underserved communities. Clean and hygienic facilities are the need of the hour. Especially for people living in densely populated areas, suffer the most, where about 500-600 people are dependent on one toilet.

We have also integrated our smart toilets with automated UV sanitization to disinfect the toilet after every use and also have enabled it with a push pedal door opening, attachment to counter the COVID19 spread.

How Do You Choose Projects For CSR Activities?

As mentioned, we, along with our partners, identify spaces which lack proper sanitation facilities. These could be schools, colleges, tea gardens, slum areas, etc. We also work towards identifying other related needs of the target segments, like if it is a middle school for girls, then we also propose to install sanitary pad vending machines with incinerator machines. If the sewage systems are a problem, then we install bio-digesters tanks as well. So groundwork is foremost where we identify the real needs of the beneficiaries.

What Type Of Challenges Did You Face While Being Engaged In CSR Activities? How Did You Overcome?

Installing toilets has some common hurdles. Many people do not realize the real importance of having clean well-maintained toilet facilities, and this is because they have always seen a public toilet as a YUCKY asset which just spreads filth and foul smell. Many times, when our teams start the installation work, they must face the protest of some locals, who do not want us to install toilets in the vicinity of their homes. So, we work with our partners in educating the audience about the long term importance of sanitation facilities.

Share A CSR Benchmark That Has Benefited Society And How?

We can share a few benchmarks:

In schools, we, and our partners have observed that the attendance patterns have improved significantly after the introduction of our toilet facilities.
In communities, women and adolescent girls seemed to have benefitted immensely by the provision of hygienic facilities where the women do not have to adjust to their bio-schedules every day and go out in secluded areas to relieve themselves in dark hours. By availing GARV toilet facilities, they are at less risk of being molested or harassed and even less risk of a UT infection.

The health parameters and social-economic parameters have also seen an improvement.

How Has CSR Evolved In The Company?

CSR projects have grown over the past 5 years for us, where they now form about 40% of our total project value.

Share A Quote About Your Initiative

GARV means pride and dignity, which is our principal intent, and hence we want everyone to talk about toilets with pride and dignity. We are working towards changing the public toilets landscape by providing clean, well-maintained smart toilet facilities which are eventually going to be the ‘Future of Public Sanitation’

– Mr. Mayank Midha (CEO and Co-founder)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent those of Diggaj Media. The pictures are provided by the author and is not authorized to be used by anyone else.

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