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Inculcating clean habits in children for a healthy living

According to Unicef, almost half of India‘s children under five years fall ill frequently. Being one of the largest FMCG Company in the country with nine out of ten Indian households using its products, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) leveraged its scale to address this challenge. In line with its mission of making sustainable living commonplace, the Company launched the ‘Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat’ (SASB) programme. The programme aims to get children to adopt three simple habits that can help them live healthier lives. With the tagline, ‘Hath, Munh, Bum, Bimari Hogi Kum” the programme encourages positive behaviour change through mass media campaigns and on ground activations.

School Behaviour Change Curriculum

HUL’s Swachh Aadat curriculum has been instrumental in guiding children to be agents of change. Launched as part of HUL’s Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat programme and in partnership with the Village Social Transformation Foundation,* this 21-day curriculum aims to teach children in the age group of 5 to 10 the importance of hygiene. It has highlighted three important habits that every child should adopt — washing hands at five critical occasions of the day, drinking purified water, and using clean toilets.

To make the curriculum interesting, a wide range of activities, games, and characters such as Chamatkari Sonu (a superhero) and Kitabyutor (kitab + computer) are used in a fun and engaging manner. Students are taught either through books or e-textbooks for approximately 20 minutes a day. They are encouraged not just to learn for themselves, but to also bring about a sanitation revolution in their communities.

Shweta, a young girl, rebelled for the right reason

Shweta beside toilet

The Swachh Aadat Curriculum was introduced in one such primary Zilla Parishad school in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. The teachings of the curriculum particularly struck a chord with Shweta Rangari, a Class IV student. Young Shweta and her family did not have a toilet, a basic human right. When Shweta learnt about the importance of the three clean habits in her school curriculum, she insisted that her father constructed a toilet at home. She refused to attend school until her demand was met. After consistent perseverance, her father Pandit Rangari a daily wage earner was convinced and built a toilet. Her school teacher, classmates and the villagers appreciated her determination.

Shweta Rangari says, “When I learnt about the benefits of using a toilet in the Swachh Aadat Curriculum, I decided not to go back to school till a toilet was built at home.”

Today, Shweta’s efforts have inspired many children in her village to build toilets inside their homes. Through the Swachh Aadat curriculum HUL aims to create a generation of Indians that grows up understanding the importance of hygiene during their formative years.

*About the Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation:

The Village Social Transformation Foundation (VSTF) was launched with the foresight of transforming the adverse conditions in rural Maharashtra. It was announced by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis in August 2016. VSTF aims to aid 1,000 villages affected by drought or social challenges by providing infrastructure and services to empower and transform them into model villages. The purpose is to address critical issues such as education, infrastructure, water conservation, sanitation and hygiene.

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