Johannesburg. The internationally acclaimed ‘Accessible’ sanitation project set up by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak in India will be expanded to bring these facilities to rural communities in South Africa. Dr Pathak was the guest speaker at the Gandhi-King-Mandela International Conference 2023 in Pietermaritzburg last week because the model he developed is based on Gandhian principles. This model not only promoted cleanliness but it is also associated with the respect of women in India.
He said, “Gandhi talked about cleanliness. He said in India in 1919 that he wanted a clean India and education first, independence later. So, I invented a technology which has helped in making toilets inside the house. Due to the support of the Government of India, every household in the country now has a toilet.” Pathak said that he has also built public toilets at places like railway stations, bus stands and police stations to solve India’s sanitation problem. “It can be implemented in South Africa because it is a technology that can be implemented globally,” he said.
He said, “This technology can be implemented at a low cost, because South Africa, like India, cannot afford a sewerage system like the US, so those (American) technologies are not helpful in solving the sanitation problems in our countries.” Pathak also shared how her project empowered women and changed the lives of the Dalit community, who were considered untouchables for being toilet cleaners and manual scavengers. “It also helped fulfill Gandhi’s dream of uplifting the lowest strata of society and bringing them into the mainstream of society,” Pathak said.
David Gengen, president of the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Foundation, said talks have already taken place between the Agriculture Division of the University of KwaZulu Natal, the local municipality, the Indian Consul General’s Office in Durban and the Gandhi Foundation to implement the system in the region. “This is a very important partnership that we want to start for our rural communities,” Gengen said. “We want to have Dr. Pathak here to train people, but If we cannot bring them here, the Indian government has assured that it will send some people from here to India for training.
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