Remarks by Deputy Mission Director Ramona El. Hamzaoui at the Ahmedabad Sanitation Action Lab Close Out Event

Friday, September 22, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Honorable Commissioner, distinguished guests of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Ahmedabad Municipal School Board officials, teachers, students, Urban Management Centre colleagues, representatives of ASAL partners, and my colleagues from USAID, congratulations!

It gives me great pleasure to be here today as we celebrate our achievements, the many partnerships that we forged during the course of the project and of course, the role that each one of you have played in making ASAL such a glorious success.

Three years back, on October 2, 2014 when Prime Minister Modi pledged to make India clean and open-defecation free, we too made a commitment on that same day to support this national mission in this beautiful city of Ahmedabad. And three years later, we have achieved so much progress.

I’m proud to note that under the USAID-supported Ahmedabad Sanitation Action Lab project, more than 130,000 children have benefitted from access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and the adoption of WASH and Menstrual Hygiene Management practices.

The Urban Management Centre has done outstanding work to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene, providing courses to more than 10,000 adolescent school girls and boys in schools and communities. Globally, girls continue to either drop out of school or miss days every month. This is one way in which we are helping to break the taboo.

Through the pilot initiative of Swachh School Survekshan, UMC in partnership with the city of Ahmedabad surveyed sanitation in 371 municipal schools and identified actionable areas for improvement. I understand that the survey will be replicated in other cities and states within India in the near future.

Through the E-Course Portal developed by UMC, lakhs of municipal officials from more than 1,000 cities received training on sanitation management. And I’m happy to note that the E-Course Portal has been hugely beneficial to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

ASAL so far led to commendable changes and I congratulate you all once more. However, this was the groundwork. At USAID, we strongly believe that clean water and sanitation is not a privilege, but a right that must be available to all. There is still so much more that has to be done and we look forward to following the continued improvements that will be made possible through community commitment and the dedicated officials of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Municipal School Board.

Today before arriving here, I paid a little homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram in Sabarmati and his noble ideas that have been the spark behind the Swachh Bharat Mission. In many of his great addresses to the nation Gandhi rightly highlighted the importance of hygiene. He said, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Today as I stand here, it makes me proud to see how our dedication and hard work under the Ahmedabad Sanitation Action Lab project have honored Gandhi’s words and his legacy. The improvements in water and sanitation that we have achieved in Ahmedabad’s municipal schools and surrounding communities is our little tribute to the legend himself.

Students, you showed us how important it is to wash hands before eating and after using the toilets. Keep reminding us, each other, your teachers, your parents and your neighbors. You are making your communities healthier. The commitment to sanitation that these students have is a testament to the Urban Management Centre’s work these last three years.

Thank you again to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, its leaders and officials, the project partners and all the school teachers, students, parents, sanitation workers, vikasinis, and others who honored us with their time today and for your commendable work and contribution in making this program successful.  

And I once again congratulate all the winning schools including Gandhinagar Gujarati Shalla School for being recognized as the Best Performing School in 2017!  These awards come with the responsibility to not only maintain the status but make continued improvements.

Thank you!

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