RB India ropes in Vidya Balan as sanitation campaign ambassador

NEW DELHI: Actor Vidya Balan has been named as the brand ambassador of the ‘Changing Behaviour: Creating Sanitation Change Leaders’ campaign launched by RB (erstwhile Reckitt Benckiser) India as part of its nationwide initiative Dettol Banega Swachh India along Pehel and State Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.


The project, which aims to make 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar free of open defecation was inaugurated by veteran actor and politician Shatrughan Sinha and former Cabinet Minsiter Jairam Ramesh in Patna and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow along with Balan, who unveiled the mnemonic of the programme.


Other dignitaries present at the event were Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh president and founder Swami Chidanand Saraswati and World Toilet Organization founder Professor Jack Sim.


Balan said, “For the past two years I have dedicated myself towards raising awareness around importance of hygiene and to stop open defecation. I am really proud to be a part of this campaign, which is taking a different route of engaging with stakeholders and creating change leaders at community level to bring about this behaviour change.”


Through the initiative, the programme will reach out and work closely with 500 PRI members, 500 natural and faith based leaders, 500 ASHAs / AWWs and two lakh mothers directly to drive a positive behaviour towards sanitation practices. 


Various activities like training of Panchayati Raj Institutions members using toolkit, exposure tours, Sanitation Chaupal, Capacity Building of frontline health workers through game shows and folk shows for sensitising mothers. The progress will be monitored at each step to track the progress and achievements of change leaders will be recognized across these 100 villages in Bihar covering Bhagalpur district and another 100 villages in Uttar Pradesh covering Varanasi, Kannauj and Etawah districts.


RB South Asia regional director Nitish Kapoor said, “We are proud to partner with Pehel and the State Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to launch this initiative, which primarily aims towards driving behaviour change across communities. While we have a dedicated initiative targeting school children, we believe it is equally important to educate and encourage communities to adopt healthier hygiene and sanitation practices to create a positive impact on the society they live in. By the end of this campaign, we aim to help these 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to become Open Defecation Free.” 


Pehel CEO Anand Madhab added, “To make India achieve its goal of improving sanitation and put an end to open defecation, it is imperative to change mindsets, attitude and behaviour of people towards the issue. Before installing toilets in homes, we need to install toilets in the minds of people. PRI members are local leaders as well as role models in the community and since the key driver for the issue is perception, attitude and behaviour changes we are zeroing in on the most, influential catalysing agent present on ground. Moreover, the project is targeting caregivers (ASHAs/AWWs) and mothers as they play a central role in shaping up the children, the future. The project is the initial step towards changing people’s behaviour towards health, hygiene and sanitation and shall turn into a mega campaign in the near future.”


According to National Sample Survey Office and World Health Organisation, over 600 million Indians have no access to toilets. The proportion is worse in rural India – where 68 per cent of rural households don’t have their own toilets. In order to achieve Open Defecation Free status, the project ‘Changing Behaviour: Creating Sanitation Change Leaders’ will be implemented using a three pronged strategy of environment building; capacity development and changing behaviours.

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