Why is cross-sector collaboration crucial to achieving water sanitation goals?

Posted 16 November 2017

African Children Carry Water
Cross-sector collaboration is the key to achieving life-changing outcomes for people affected by lack of access to water sanitation and hygiene, according to one Australian expert. 

Kimberly-Clark Global Director of Sustainability Communication Jacquie Fegent-McGeachie will be chairing the panel on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and menstrual health at the upcoming World Toilet Summit to be held on 20-21 November in Melbourne. 

Fegent-McGeachie said the success of Kimberly-Clark’s Toilets Change Lives program is founded on combining cross-sector strengths and cooperation. 

“Through our experience with the Toilets Change Lives program, one of the key learnings is the importance of collaboration. No single entity or sector can solve the sanitation crisis alone. The work that we have been able to achieve to date wouldn't have been possible without our NGO partners,” she said. 

“When you look at the scale of the water sanitation issue, the different interconnected facets of it, and how many people and countries it involves, it’s critical that the public, private and NGO sectors all collaborate together to find solutions.

“The World Toilet Summit is a great opportunity for people and organisations who are committed to providing the dignity of improved sanitation to all, to get together to learn from each other’s experiences, different approaches and discuss solutions.”

The Toilets Change Lives program, which is delivered in partnership with UNICEF, WaterAid and Water for People, provides funding and expertise to build, repair and maintain toilet infrastructure in disadvantaged communities, along with hygiene education and behaviour-change programing.  

The program first launched in the UK in 2014 and has since scaled up to involve 15 different countries around the world. 

Projects to increase access to sanitation and improve people’s lives have been undertaken in Angola, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

“The program came about because we have more than 100 years of experience in understanding hygiene related issues and behaviour change,” Fegent-McGeachie said.

“When we became aware of some of the startling statistics around the lack of access to sanitation that is experienced by so many people around the world, we knew that we really wanted to help affect change on the issue and help make a difference.

“A key focus for us is improving the lives of 25 million people in need by 2022 through social and community investments that improve access to sanitation, empower women and girls, and help children thrive.”

Fegent-McGeachie said she is looking forward to her role as chair of the panel on WASH and menstrual health, and that the panel will be focusing on addressing avenues for change and improvement in communities. 

“It’s a very important subject. We know that while the sanitation crisis affects many people, it has particularly profound effects on women and girls,” she said.

“We are going to be focusing our discussion on the ways in which communities can tackle taboos and negative perceptions around menstrual hygiene health, the behaviour changes needed, and how communities can help to increase access to sanitation and hygiene.

“Something as natural as a women’s period should not be a source of shame or stigma, and everyone should have access to the dignity of a clean and safe toilet.”

Register for the World Toilet Summit to brush up on the latest research, expertise and infrastructure being implemented in aid of the global sanitation crisis. You can also learn more about Kimberly-Clark’s Toilets Change Lives program
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