Harpic's Hummingbird Tale : Transforming Sri Lanka's Sanitation Landscape on World Toilet Day and Beyond

Wednesday, 22 November 2023 - 12:59

Today, the world observes World Toilet Day 2023 under the theme 'Accelerating Change,' with the Hummingbird as the symbol of the global campaign. This campaign is inspired by a popular South American folktale, where a determined Hummingbird fearlessly confronts a raging wildfire, undeterred by the enormity of the task but motivated by the unwavering commitment to do everything within her power.

Notably, the symbolism of the Hummingbird and the associated tale resonates in the Sri Lankan context, reflecting Harpic's decade-long dedication to addressing sanitation issues, silently making a significant impact on millions of lives in the country.

Did you know that nearly half the global population, 3.5 billion people, still lacks access to safe toilets? Every day, 1,000 children under the age of five succumb to diseases resulting from this sanitation crisis. (UN Reports 2023) Even in Sri Lanka some segments of the population still lacks adequate access to hygienic toilets and public facilities often fall below acceptable standards.

For the past decade, Harpic has been the sole entity observing World Toilet Day in Sri Lanka and carried out this mission with unwavering commitment. The launch of 'Harpic Suwa Jana Meheyuma’ (Mission Wellbeing) in 2017 is a milestone in this journey as the programme presented a comprehensive four-pronged approach to tackle sanitation issues.

Instilling Positive Habits in Young Minds

At the heart of 'Harpic Suwa Jana Meheyuma’ lies a crucial commitment: to mold our future generations into champions of hygiene with ingrained proper habits. This year, Harpic has placed a special focus on the education of girl children, elevating their sanitary standards by instilling essential hygiene practices. This unique education programme was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and leveraged on the support of experts in the subject to impart critical knowledge on proper hygiene and potential health implications young women may face in contaminated environments, such as unclean toilets.

The success of Harpic's schools program this year resonates strongly, with a particular outreach to hundreds of girl children in a number of selected schools around the country like Gampaha Holy Cross College, Ambathalae Samudra Devi Girls College, Minuwangoda Girls College, Naayakanda Good Shepherd Girls College, and Bakamuna Mahasen National College, among others. Throughout the year, Harpic has contributed significantly, constructing up to 300 toilet facilities in these schools—an extraordinary achievement in a remarkably short time frame.

Mobilizing Hygiene: Harpic’s Mobile Toilet Initiative

A cornerstone of Harpic’s enduring success as a household brand lies in its profound understanding of customers' needs and its commitment to being there when assistance is most crucial. Harpic Mobile Toilet Initiative exemplifies this brand strength, focusing on providing essential relief where it matters most.

This impactful program involves deploying cutting-edge mobile toilet units at major cultural and religious events held throughout the year. Signature events like the Kandy Esala Perahera, Nallur festival in Jaffna, Madhu festival, Thalawila church festival, and Kataragama perahera draw crowds from across the country. Over the past decade, the Harpic Suwa Jana Mahayuma has played a pivotal role in enhancing the success of these grand events by contributing dedicated Mobile Toilet Units to bolster sanitary infrastructure.

The impact of Harpic Mobile Toilet Initiative has been immeasurable, benefiting countless individuals over the years. During the Nuwara Eliya festival season alone, it is estimated that over one million people annually find relief through the Harpic Mobile Toilet initiative.

Revitalizing Public Sanitation Infrastructure

Recognizing the dire state of public toilets in Sri Lanka, Harpic directs substantial funds toward building or renovating facilities at hospitals, police stations, railway stations, and bus stations. By addressing this critical area, Harpic contributes to reducing the spread of diseases and social problems associated with inadequate sanitation.

Toilets for Every Home

Harpic's program extends support to families in less affluent areas, building toilet facilities and ensuring hygiene for those in dire need. Since 2017, they have refurbished toilets in about 150 families annually, reaching a total of 900 plus families over the last few years.

As we celebrate World Toilet Day 2023 under the theme 'Accelerating Change,' Harpic stands as a testament to the transformative power of collective action, proving that, like the Hummingbird, every effort counts. And in doing so, Harpic inspires us all to be agents of positive change in the pursuit of a cleaner, healthier, and more dignified future for Sri Lanka and beyond.