Bharti Foundation Invests $16.4 Million in Rural Sanitation in India

The Bharti Foundation in India will invest up to $16.4 million over three years to improve rural household sanitation facilities in that country, the Economic Times reports.

The Satya Bharti Abhiyan initiative will support the installation of toilets in rural households lacking such facilities across the Ludhiana district of Punjab state. The initiative also will invest in building toilets for girls in government schools in rural Ludhiana. According to the Economic Times, the project was inspired by the national "Swachh Bharat Mission" (Mission for a Sanitary India) campaign — which aims to end open defecation across India by 2019 —  launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June.

"Lack of private sanitation facilities in rural households not only constitutes a major cause of embarrassment for the women, but also points to a much wider problem of rural hygiene and cleanliness," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, board chair of the foundation. "Satya Bharti Abhiyan will help cover a long-felt gap in rural hygiene infrastructure in Punjab, besides contributing to the larger national mission of 'Swachh Bharat' in its own limited way."

Established in 2000 by Bharti Enterprises, the parent company of mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel Limited and Bharti Infratel Ltd., the foundation currently provides free education to more than fifty thousand underprivileged children, half of them girls, in rural areas of India.

"Separate toilet facilities for girls in village schools can bring down dropout rates drastically to help leverage the current rural school infrastructure better," said foundation vice chair Rakesh Bharti Mittal.