13 January 2017

Sanitation First

Wishing you a (slightly belated) Happy New Year from everyone here at Sanitation First!

New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and it’s time to fully embrace 2017 and everything it has in store for us. So, we’re taking this opportunity to (1) look back and celebrate our achievements in 2016, and (2) look forward to 2017 and set out our goals for the coming year.

Looking Back At Some of Our Achievements in 2016


We officially became Sanitation First!

In March, we left behind our days as Wherever the Need and embraced our new identity as Sanitation First. Our new name reflects our vision of a world where everyone has access to a safe, clean toilet and where pointless deaths caused by a lack of sanitation and clean water are eliminated. We put sanitation first and all of our projects start with a toilet.

We celebrated our new name with a well attended launch event in London and welcomed our special guest speaker Dr Paramasivan, director of Sanitation First in India and designer of the GroSan toilet.

 Sanitation First Launch Event



In March, a group of our amazing volunteers took part in the Bath Half Marathon. They survived the 13.1 mile course that snaked around the centre of the city of Bath, raising money for Sanitation First in the process!

Thank you to all our charity runners who completed the race and raised money for critical sanitation projects in India.


Bath Half Marathon



Thanks to money raised by the St Nicholas Church, Hayes, Sanitation First were able to build a fantastic sanitation block for a school in the village of Sri Shakti, Tamil Nadu. All 397 pupils now have access to clean and safe toilets and sanitation.

Sri Shakti (1)

Sri Shakti (2)

This is a fantastic achievement. Thank you to all who donated and got involved at the St Nicholas Church, Hayes!


2016 was a great year in terms of school fundraising and we’d like to place a spotlight on a couple of them:

St Philip’s Primary School, Bath, raised an incredible £9,441 (by baking cakes, making jam, sponsored cycle rides, walks, and much more). These funds were used to provide sanitation and clean water for people affected by the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Thank you to all who got involved at St Philip’s Primary School.

We became Charity of the Year at Monkton Combe Senior School, Bath, and the school raised an amazing £9,021.40 for Sanitation First. Fundraising events include a sponsored swim, where 31 swimmers completed 3 hours of solid swimming! Thank you to all those who took part and donated.


Monkton Combe



At the end of June, a team of 18 fabulous Sanitation First supporters braved the rain and the mud as campsite crew volunteers at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset. Their work as on-site stewards raised £5,000 for Sanitation First, which went towards essential ecosan toilet projects in India. It was a brilliant weekend (if a bit muddy) and we can’t wait to raise more money for equally important projects at Glastonbury this year.





In July 2016, the amazing Akshaya came to our attention as she launched her very first Teen Clean Team in India.

Akshaya is the granddaughter of Dr Paramasivan, Director of Sanitation First in India and designer of our GroSan toilets. After speaking to her grandfather about the work of Sanitation First, Akshaya decided that she would rather spend the money her family had set aside for her 13th birthday on “a toilet for a girl like me, someone who does not have one at her home”. So she sent Rs 25,000 to build an ecosan toilet for 13 year old Arthi.


Akshaya - Teen Clean Team


Akshaya saw the difference that one toilet could make, and so got a group of her friends together and created a Teen Clean Team. The initiative was set up to organise fundraising efforts in order to build toilets, raise awareness of sanitation issues, and get more teens involved with fundraising. Akshaya has set up her own facebook page, been featured in the India Telegraph, and built 11 toilets! Her aim is to build 100 ecosan toilets for girls who are deprived of their basic needs – only 89 to go! She’s such a great example and an inspiration to young people everywhere. Good luck Akshaya!

Read more about Akshaya and her Teen Clean Team here.

If you are at secondary school and would like to set up your own Teen Clean Team in 2017, then get in touch! More information will be coming your way later on in the year.


Over the course of 2016, numerous Sanitation First water and sanitation projects in both India and Sierra Leone have been built, completed, and used to the benefit of over 11,000 people.

One of these, in India, was at the Kundiyamallur Senior School in the Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, in August. 420 pupils now have access to clean water for drinking and hand washing. Clean water and hand washing are crucial to preventing the spread of disease and infection.


Kundiyamallur Senior School



In November, our CEO Louise Kirby-Garton sat on an expert panel for The Guardian’s ‘Global Development Professionals Network’. She took part in a live, online Q&A discussing the future of innovation for water and sanitation. The debate was lively and insightful.


“Lack of access to toilets remains one of the biggest threats to human life today, yet outside of our own community, nobody wants to talk about it.”

“Rather than getting people to take on new innovations, I’d like to see if we can get people to be more accepting of managing the waste at source by using dry toilet systems…Human waste is a resource that we should be capturing.”

If you’d like to read the live chat in full, visit The Guardian website. The discussions take place in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


The Guardian


The above achievements are highlights selected from a full year of activities at Sanitation First. We received so many generous donations supporting several important projects that we couldn’t possibly mention all of them here. But we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who got involved with Sanitation First and supported our work in 2016. We get no government funding and can’t do anything without the support of people like you. Thank you so much for your support.

Looking Forward: What to Expect in 2017

Inner City Sanitation

2017 will see us focussing more and more on urban slum areas where current sanitation provision is inadequate or non-existent. We have two major Inner City Sanitation (ICS) projects going ahead in the cities of Chennai and Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and we expect to be reporting back that great things are happening in these two areas!

Compost Production & Sales

To support these projects we are building a new compost processing facility to produce our unique GroComp compost that is bagged and sold to farmers. The intention is for the revenue to help pay the running costs of Sanitation First India and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the ICS projects.

School Ecosan Toilets

Sanitation First India will also be constructing more school GroSan toilet blocks helping to keep children (especially girls) in school for longer and keep them healthier.

Individual Family Ecosan

Finally, we’re fundraising to build 200 family ecosan toilets for marginalised and impoverished families living in the deprived suburbs of Puducherry.

That seems like quite a bit to be getting on with! Wish us luck, please help us if you can and we will keep you updated with news of these projects throughout the year!

We’d also love to hear about your expectations and goals for 2017!


What are your new year’s resolutions?

What do you hope to achieve in 2017?

What can you do to help tackle the global sanitation crisis?


If you haven’t written your resolutions yet, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Fancy training for and running a half marathon for Sanitation First in 2017? Sign up before you have time to change your mind!

  • Or perhaps dedicate 2017 as your #MyFundraisingYear? Why not pencil one day a month into the calendar and dedicate it to raising money for your favourite charity (us, hopefully!). Perhaps a coffee morning one month or a car boot sale the next?

Tag us on Social Media! @SanFirstUK

#NewYearsResolutions #MyFundraisingYear #SanitationFirst #GroSan #TeenClean

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