Thematic Discussion - Corporate Engagement in Sanitation

For more information, please click here to visit the discussion on the SuSanA Forum.

Corporate Engagement in Sanitation


Under the umbrella of the SuSanA Indian Chapter, the India Sanitation Coalition in partnership with SuSanA, held a four-week thematic discussion on exploring opportunities and challenges of corporate engagement in sanitation.


  The discussion not only focussed on corporate engagement via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but also took different forms of  engagement like Microfinancing opportunities and starting a business in sanitation into consideration. Since the Companies Act of Section 135 from 2013 was amended to make it compulsory for them to spend 2% of their net profits on corporate social responsibility, sanitation has been one of the areas of attention. See full online discussion here: SuSanA Forum Discussion Corporate Engagement in Sanitation

Some of the barriers to corporate participation that were found include
• Lack of usable knowledge on best practices and scalable models across the WASH value chain

• Perception that it is difficult to find implementation partners, especially those with experience of behaviour change or community mobilization.

• Difficulties in quantifying and measuring impact, especially in terms of changing habits and attitudes
• Lack of clarity on what constitutes CSR as per Section 135, especially for companies whose products are aligned to WASH
• Difficulties in accessing government networks

A recent ISC-Samhita position paper says, “An analysis of the CSR efforts of 100 companies with the largest CSR budgets was conducted by ISC and Samhita. This found that 75% companies were supporting programmes related to creating infrastructure, such as the construction of toilets while ignoring behaviour change, maintaining and operating toilets or solid and liquid waste management.”
There are around 1600 eligible companies for CSR in India. However, only a few seem to have addressed the problems of construction and use of toilets due to several socio-cultural and economic issues in the communities.

Running for four weeks from 14 November to 10 December 2016 on the SuSanA online discussion forum, the discussion looked at four key topics which were lead from different experts each week:

Sharing your experiences from India and abroad on corporate support to sanitation. 

Hosted by Jayanti Shukla, Executive director of United Way, a network from Mumbai that improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good.

What are the challenges faced for companies that are starting to work in sanitation, and what assistance can be provided by a facilitator?

Hosted by Neeraj Jain from PATH, an organization working to promote better health. By accelerating innovation, PATH is transforming the lives of the world’s most vulnerable women and children.

Apart from CSR, what are the possible ways a corporate can get engaged in the sector?

Hosted by Cheryl Hicks from the Toilet Board Coalition, a business platform enabling private sector engagement and connecting different stakeholders to accelerate sanitation for all.

How can companies incentivize sanitation and recognize good work to motivate others to excel?

Hosted by Sandhya Tenneti from Samhita Social Ventures that collaborates with companies to develop impactful CSR initiatives.


You can view the full discussion and all topics here

A synthesis document for the discussion is available in our library here.