world-toilet-summit-2007-1The seventh World Toilet Summit – 2007 was organized by Sulabh International Social Service Organisation in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and World Toilet Organisation, in New Delhi from October 31 to November 3, 2007 in which 150 distinguished scholars, academics, economists and leaders from 44 countries participated. This Summit provided a forum to exchange ideas, discuss strategies and sanitation technologies suitable for different countries, climes and cultures. It sought to produce a synthesis of knowledge and experiences and evolve a common view on how best to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on Water and Sanitation by 2015. It was also organized to build a global alliance towards this end.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, while inaugurating the World Toilet Summit 2007, said, “Sanitation to all can be provided only by mobilizing all sections of society. Providing sanitation facilities is not only the responsibility of the Government but also of the elected representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), non-governmental organizations and members of civil society. Women groups should be encouraged to take up sanitation and suitable incentives should be given to them. I can see that Sulabh International will be remembered for the development and implementation of socially and culturally acceptable sustainable technologies in the field of sanitation, public toilets, recycling and use of biogas. Sanitation is voted as the latest advance in Medical Milestone, since 1840 and is a Noble Mission for humanity. Hence, this mission should be taken forward with great vigour. Good sanitary conditions and infrastructure are important indicators of the state of development of any nation.”

HRH Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands and Chairman of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, spoke at length on the urgency to provide safe drinking water to 1.2 billion people  in the world to meet the Millennium Development Goal on Water and Sanitation. He reminded the audience that 5000 children were dying daily, day after day because of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases. There were enormous challenges ahead to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the need was to mobilize political will and bring awareness, raising efforts for sustainable development. Water and sanitation solutions could help in achieving five other Millennium Development Goals, fighting poverty and stimulating development. He commended Sulabh International for proving how effective small scale solutions can be expanded all over the country and how low-cost technologies can help in sanitation coverage. He praised the Government of India for showing tremendous efforts in its Total Sanitation Campaign for total coverage by 2012 in rural areas. He ended his inspiring speech by quoting Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Mrs. Meira Kumar, Kumari Selja, Prof. K.J. Nath and Mr. Jack Sim addressed the seminar.

Smt. Sushila Chauhan, an erstwhile woman scavenger of Alwar, who was liberated and rehabilitated by Sulabh, shared the dais with the former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, HRH the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands and various Ministers of Government of India. She also addressed the august gathering.

The Sulabh Global Sanitation Award 2007 was given to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council on the occasion. Eight technical sessions on the topics – Attaining the Millennium Development Goals, Policy, Programme and Promotion of Sanitation Experience and Perspectives, Urban Sanitation, School Sanitation and Gender Mainstreaming in Health and Hygiene Promotion, Rural Sanitation, Sustainable Sanitation and Environment, Toilets in Trains and at Railway Platforms, Mobilization of Financial Resources, were organized in which the delegates made their presentations and underlined the need for improving sanitation with better design, construction, maintenance and management of toilets.

Seldom before so many distinguished persons had gathered together, united in their concern to create a healthy and clean world. By sheer weight of number of the people they represented and the experience that they brought along in the areas of water and sanitation, the seventh World Toilet became a memorable event.

The Expo at the World Toilet Summit 2007 had state-of-the-art public toilet units with their jazzy colours and flashy interiors attracting visitors’ attention. The manufacturers of these dream contraptions gathered at the Expo Toilet Summit to display their designs.

 

world-toilet-summit-2007In the evening of October 31, 2007, a fashion show with a difference was held for a noble cause, when leading models of the country walked the ramp along with a group of rehabilitated women scavenger designers of Alwar at an event ‘Mission Sanitation’ organized at the Embassy of Bulgaria in New Delhi. The joy of these women, who had made the saris and other colourful dresses that the models wore, was palpable as not too long ago they had resigned themselves to a life of drudgery and humiliation. Now they were rubbing shoulders with the glitterati and the spotlight was focused on them. Under the tutelage of fashion designer Abdul Halder, the rehabilitated women scavenger designers created the glittering dresses. Accompanied by the models, draped in printed and crepe saris, they walked down the ramp with confidence and enthusiasm. Later, they were felicitated by HRH the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands, who lauded the cause behind the event and the manner in which the liberated women scavengers were being rehabilitated. “The efforts of Sulabh are truly laudable and I feel really proud and honoured to be a part of this programme,” said the Prince. He even suggested organizing a similar show at the United Nations to turn the spotlight on the issue of manual scavenging. Speaking on the occasion, the Bulgarian Ambassador, H.E. Dragovest Goranov said: “We have always abused our own environment which has given us so much and it is really important that we all wake up to protect it now.”