Charity spotlight: Sanitation First

Each month we shine the spotlight on one of the charities supported by the team at Ingram Winter Green. Our intention is to raise awareness of each charity’s aims and highlight ways that anyone can support the fantastic work that they do.

This month we focus on Sanitation First, a charity with the aim of providing people in India with access to safe and hygienic toilet facilities.

Why is access to good sanitation and toilets so important?

Lack of sanitation is one of the highest contributors to child mortality rates, according to the World Bank. Water contaminated by faeces can carry cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio, resulting in over 800,000 children under five dying every year from some form of diarrhoea related disease.

As well as being a public health issue, poor sanitation is also a major contributor to social injustice and the continuing cycle of poverty. People weakened through illness find themselves unable to attend school or work and have no money to buy expensive medicines.

Women in rural areas are at particular risk without safe toilets as they are often attacked while looking for a place to defecate. Lack of toilets and a place to change and dispose of sanitary products is one of the biggest factors that causes girls to leave education, with a 15 per cent increase in attendance once a toilet is introduced into a school.

What does Sanitation First do?

Sanitation First is tackling poverty one toilet at a time. They build toilets for families, schools and communities, employing the right sanitation system to best suit the needs of their users.

The charity has developed their own self-composting eco-toilet called Ecosan, which converts organic waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertiliser. Villagers can then use and sell the compost, so it not only actively benefits the environment but also benefits the people, improving their dignity and self-respect.

Since it was founded in 1998 Sanitation First have done some incredible work throughout India:

We became involved with the charity through one of its co-founders.  Over the years we have supported their work in many ways, from corporate donations to individual fee earners donating part of their fees. One of our partners, Paul Sheeter, has visited the East Indian village near Pondicherry where we helped fund the building of a new shower and toilet complex. We helped build a new home with toilet facilities for a family in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. This is alongside the donation of numerous ecosan toilets that are now in good use all over India.

Opportunities to help

There are lots of ways in which we can all help Sanitation First provide not just toilets but also more respect, dignity and hope to some of the poorest people in the world.

There are two new projects that we are contributing towards this year, which you can also be a part of by making a direct donation or setting up a regular gift:

  • a combined toilet and sport’s field and coaching programme for street children in Chennai, aimed at getting them back into education. This is a joint venture with Rotary International who are doubling the money we have donated; and
  • a menstrual hygiene training programme for schoolgirls, boys and teachers to remove the taboos surrounding periods. This includes the supply of washable, re-usable sanitary pads which will release 23 per cent of girls from leaving education when they start menstruating. At present the traditional attitude condemns girls into believing a period is dirty and continues a view of women as second class citizens.

Sanitation First have also set up a range of fantastic ‘shitty gifts’ which include an e-card to send to your friends, family and colleagues. There is even a Christmas range, that is perfect for that hard-to-buy for relative or office secret Santa.

Find out more about Sanitation First and how you can support their work visit or please call Andrew Barrs on 07909 522151 who is happy to answer any questions you may have.