Partner Spotlight: Five Questions With WaSH Infrastructure Creator Banka BioLoo
The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized hard-won gains in women’s, children’s and adolescent health. Though women and children are at less risk from the virus itself, the knock-off effects—such as limited access to vaccines and sexual and reproductive health resources—are projected to do immense harm. Every Woman Every Child believes that women and children must be placed at the center of COVID-19 recovery plans. In that spirit, we have launched a new “Five Questions” feature to feature partners who are working to make sure that no one from these vulnerable groups is left behind.
1. What is your organization’s primary concern with the global pandemic as it relates to women, children and adolescents?
Banka BioLoo is a water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) infrastructure creator and service provider. The absence of WaSH facilities is a bigger problem for women, children and adolescents in terms of security, dignity and health, generally, and more so during a pandemic. Due to the pandemic and related lockdown, our services had to be slowed or halted. At the same time, since the users can’t move out of their homes, their access to a WaSH facility outside their home, such as a community toilet, gets further restrained. Our concern is more towards the users of our services and the WaSH facilities that we create at homes, schools, communities, worksites.
2. What concrete actions are you taking to advance and safeguard the goals of the EWEC Global Strategy during this time, specifically for ending all preventable deaths among women, children and adolescents by 2030?
As the lockdown in India eased, we, quickly, got into action and began operations. Our teams, across India, got to the sites and re-began the installation of bioloos in all these places, so that all people, especially women, children and adolescents have access to WaSH. We believe that adequate hygiene and sanitation act as bulwark against endemics and pandemics. Toilets (or bioloos in our case) and associated handwash stations prevent, to a large extent, morbidity and mortality. We have stepped-up our efforts of WaSH provisioning, which ultimately help end preventable deaths.
3. How are you supporting national COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, particularly in ensuring that women, children and adolescents remain at the center of such efforts?
We continue to collaborate with large companies, through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, in providing WaSH access to the vulnerable and the marginalized by installing bioloos in schools, communities, at worksites for the migrant labour. We, also, support the Indian Railways in servicing the bioloos installed in train coaches. During COVID-19, we worked with rail staff in converting some train coaches to isolation centers.
4. What impact will your organization have on the lives of women, children and adolescents, and how are you measuring this?
Our bioloos and handwash facilities have a larger bearing and a positive impact on the lives of women, children and adolescents, ensuring a sense of security and dignity, apart from good health, when they don’t defecate and urinate in the open. The bioloos in train coaches provide a fecal-matter-free environment to a very large section of informal settlements families that reside close to the rail tracks. This is in complete contrast to the heap of fecal waste lying on rail tracks when the trains, previously, had open-chute systems.
5. Who (partner organizations) are you working with to achieve this?
Banka BioLoo partners the Indian Railways, federal, state and local government bodies, including municipal corporations, state-owned enterprises or public sector undertakings (PSUs), publicly-traded and private companies, foundations, philanthropies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), construction, infrastructure, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) and plantation companies, armed & paramilitary forces and police departments, in providing eco-friendly sustainable bioloos in trains, communities, schools, homes, institutes, offices, hotels, tourism places, border posts, hospitals & health care facilities, airports, houseboats, work sites such as manufacturing facilities, factories, mines and many similar ones.