3 questions to Lauren Pope, Sanitation Business Adviser at WASTE, on her trip to India for the celebration of the installation of the one-millionth toilet under the FINISH India programme.

During your trip in India, what made you proud?

Throughout the trip, I was struck by how proud I felt to be a representative with the FINISH ‘brand’ as I hadn’t realized before, working on the project from a distance. Though I am newer to the Dutch team (only working with them for 1 year) I definitely felt a sense of pride to be associated with the local teams we visited in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which have evidently positively impacted so many people’s lives and is gaining traction rapidly.

 

What amazed you?

The villages and people we visited felt the impacts of the programmes very viscerally. I was amazed by how often I heard women telling me about how much time they saved from their new proximity to the toilets. Over and again, we heard this response and similar ones that perhaps data analysis on ‘impact’ would not have predicted as being so important to people. These more personal responses really put into perspective the less tangible –but very real– impacts a programme like FINISH has on helping more vulnerable persons in society, such as women and children, improve the quality of their own lives. I was also struck by the closeness the FINISH India teams in general and more specifically the local coordinators had with the communities they serve. FINISH project manager, Vivek and CHF Rama in Kota for example, are certainly rockstars in the villages they work with.

 

What are the biggest challenges for the programme?

In my observation, one of the biggest challenges in continuing to grow and scale the FINISH programme is continuing to keep the needs of the impacted communities and unique perspectives of the local cultures at the forefront. The localization of such development projects, of which is already highly embedded in the FINISH ethos, is key to ensuring sustainability of the programme overall.

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