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Low-cost technology is dramatically changing things for the better: US envoy Richard Verma

Verma made the observations while visiting Sulabh International, an NGO working in the sanitation sector.

New Delhi |
August 14, 2015 2:50:03 am
richard verma, us envoy, american envoy, us ambassador, richard verma delhi, richard verma india, india news US Ambassador Richard Verma with school students during his visit to Sulabh International on Thursday. (Source: Express Photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Hailing the impact of low-cost sanitation technology in India, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Thursday said that he appreciated its impact as he had once lived in a house without a functional toilet and knew how it felt.

Verma made the observations while visiting Sulabh International, an NGO working in the sanitation sector, where he talked about how such technology had ‘dramatically changed things for the better’.

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“My parents emigrated to the US from Jalandhar in Punjab. I was able to go back in 1974 to the house, in which my grandmother lived. There were no functional toilets in that house. I know exactly how it feels,” said Verma.

“But the last time I went there, things had not only changed dramatically, they had changed for the better. So much progress has been made. We will continue to be your partner through our alliance WASH and support the PM and others in India who want to see the lives of ordinary people improving,” he added.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to US last year, President Barack Obama had offered his support for the ‘Clean India’ campaign. The US government had also offered to collaborate to provide clean water and improved sanitation in 500 urban centres. It had also partnered in the ‘Clean India’ campaign, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Alliance (WASH).

The ambassador also interacted with several women who had left their husbands’ homes, as they didn’t have toilets, and had refused to go back until one was constructed.

On the long-term impact of such technology, Verma said, “It is amazing to know how ordinary lives can be transformed by improving sanitation technology. It doesn’t take a lot of money or the most advanced technology, just a commitment from people to change the way they do things and some funding. It can have a great impact on safety, health, education and most importantly, on girls”.

“I left my husband’s home two days after getting married because there was no toilet in his house. He had to ultimately relent and construct a bathroom in the house,” said Priyanka Rai, who had come all the way from Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh to meet the ambassador. Verma also met some women from Rajasthan who used to work as manual scavengers earlier.

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