Behaviour Change for Hygiene Products
There is a serious need to bring about behavioural change among the masses to encourage
usage of toilets. By and large, people in rural areas avoid toilets due to unclean
conditions and as sanitary cleaning products are neither very accessible nor affordable.
Usage of just water to clean does not work properly, especially when water itself
is a scarce commodity in several areas. So the focus should be on finding an affordable
and accessible disinfectant for rural masses. Also any product formulation that
facilitates accelerated decomposition of sewage would greatly benefit households
as it would reduce the household pain around emptying of pits.
The maintenance costs required for upkeep and cleaning of toilets has created a
pressing need in the market for a low cost effective cleansing product. We believe
that a dry toilet cleaning powder (enabled with rice husk + enzyme + fragrance)
in rural areas can be a cost effective solution.
Existing Products: Are they Sufficient?
The existing liquid toilet cleaners in the market are generally high quality products
with high cleaning standards at the prevailing market prices, which is usually very
expensive for the rural customers. Other cheaper alternatives, such as toilet acid
and existing powders, are acidic in nature which does not help in accelerating decomposition
of sewage. In addition, acids also pose a health risk to the population owing to
their hazardous fumes. Due to this, these solutions may be incompatible with rural
Innovation in Toilet Cleaners
The need of the hour is to innovate a cost effective toilet cleaning solution which
offers powerful cleaning, strong germ kill and prevents bad odour for low to middle
income rural families and also contains enzymes for shortened sewage decomposition
process. The disinfectant should have robust properties for germ kill. The enzymes
should aaccelerate the decomposition process, which is particularly important for
single pit toilets. The pits can be cleaned earlier and toilets can be reused sooner,
with the release of a pleasant fragrance.
Rice husk is an agricultural by-product that is typically burned in large quantities,
often leading to hazardous smoke and pollution in rice growing areas. Rick husk
is extremely abrasive and has moisture absorption and odour absorption properties
which when combined with enzymes can create an effective cleaning and disinfectant
solution. Moreover, due to its alkaline nature, the husk only accelerates the decomposition
process, creating a clear value proposition for rural consumers. A dry toilet powder
with the above base formulations will go a long way in meeting cleansing requirements
for customers and due to the inexpensive nature of raw ingredients, it is likely
to be an affordable proposition for customers.
Potential on Domestic and Global Scale
There are 46 countries where less than half the population has access to an improved
sanitation facility. The countries in South Asia and Northern and Central Africa
have the poorest sanitation conditions in the world. Since rice husk forms the core
ingredient of the new range of sanitation products, regions that are quite rice-intensive
in their cropping patterns, such as Central Africa and South Asia (where also the
poorest sanitation conditions exist), can be a great source for supplying this ingredient
locally at a significant scale. This just goes to highlight the cost effectiveness
and potential scale of such a product innovation.
Reaching the Households: Distribution
The eventual result should be that chains such as Farmers co-operatives, rural sanitary
marts, public distribution system and local self-help groups become the capillaries
of distribution of sanitary products so as to make them reach the last mile consumer
and rural households through an aggregator distribution system.
From “Open Defecation Free India” to “100% hygienic India’’
We have described the impact of Swachh Bharat Mission in creating a nationwide consciousness
in building toilets. The focus, going ahead, must move from building toilets to
continued use and upkeep of toilets. The pillar of ‘behaviour change communication’
must be incorporated at all levels. For e.g. school modules for children must stress
the importance of hygiene to build this mental thought from a young age. Every rural
household with a new toilet construction under Swachh Bharat must be given incentives
and material support to maintain and clean toilets from time to time, under local
supervision if need be. Marquee programmes such as Mann Ki Baat, conventional media
such as TV, radio, print media, video on wheels (Swachhta Raths) and non -conventional
media such as stalls/exhibits at folk theatre shows, haats, melas, post-cards etc
should work in tandem with the concerned government to drive sanitation messaging
through to the last household to facilitate the change in an individual’s psyche.
About the author:
The author is a professional Consultant and banker with 6 years of experience with
Deutsche Bank and on Projects for the Gates Foundation. He has worked across functions
in digital finance, sales and general management, having international experience
in Singapore and Philippines. Currently, he is pursuing MBA at the Indian School
of Business, Hyderabad.