What You Don't Talk About You Cannot Improve
Singapore- Toa Payoh | Jan 29 2012 | (01:08:52 - EDT)
For those without access to a simple toilet, poop can be poison. Businessman-turned-sanitation-superhero Jack Sim fights this oft-neglected crisis affecting 2.6 billion people. Jessica Yu is the Oscar-winning director of Breathing Lessons, In the Realms of the Unreal, Protagonist, and Last Call at the Oasis. She created this short film.
Jack Sim, Founder of World Toilet Organization (WTO), has been a successful businessman since age 24. Having achieved financial success in his 40s, Jack felt the need to change his direction in life and give back to humanity – he wanted to live his life according to the motto “Live a useful life”. Jack soon left his business and embarked on a journey that saw him being the voice for those who cannot speak out and fighting for the dignity, rights and health for the vulnerable and poor worldwide.
Jack discovered that toilets were often neglected and grew concerned that the topic was often shrouded in embarrassment and apathy; talking toilets was taboo! Jack felt this led to the neglect of restrooms island wide. In 1998, he established the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) whose mission was to raise the standards of public toilets in Singapore and around the world.
Through RAS, Jack’s vision was to put Singapore on the “world map” by taking the initiative to provide clean public toilets. As Jack began his work in Singapore, he realized there were other existing toilet associations operating in other countries.
It soon became clear that there were no channels available to bring these organisations together to share information, resources and facilitate change. There was a lack of synergy. As a result, in 2001, Jack founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO) and four years later, the World Toilet College (WTC) in 2005.
In 2004, Jack was awarded the Singapore Green Plan Award 2012 by Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) for his contribution to Environment. In 2006, Jack was invited to launch The German Toilet Organisation in Berlin. He is also a founding member of American Restroom Association.
In 2007, Jack became one of the key members to convene the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) comprised of over 130 organisations active in the sanitation sector. Jack is also an Ashoka Global Fellow and in 2008 was named Hero of the Environment by Time Magazine. Jack also sits in the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Councils (GAC) for Water Security and also the GAC for Social Entrepreneurship.
In 2009, he joined the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy as a master student in Public Administration as well as a visiting fellow at its Institution of Water Policy.
Jack’s current project at WTO is to establish a “BOP Hub” in Singapore. BOP – the Bottom of the Pyramid refers to 4 billion people that survive on less than US$8 per day; this accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s population. The Hub acts as a trade centre for the poor in developing countries to formulate, cooperate and merge business solutions to transform emerging markets into vibrant marketplaces.
The “BOP Hub” will develop market based solutions in sectors such as water, food, housing, energy, transportation and telecommunication. The Hub’s pilot project is a social franchise model for sanitation; whereby local entrepreneurs get an opportunity to increase their business by offering affordable, well designed sanitation products to BOP customers.Through humour, laughter and his quirky personality, Jack has managed to bring attention to a very serious issue; inadequate, unhygienic sanitation conditions in developing countries.
The World Toilet Organization's vision is to bring health dignity and well-being to all through sustainable sanitation. Their mission is, "Improving sanitation conditions for people globally through powerful advocacy, inventive technology, education and building marketplace opportunities locally."
In 2000 the international community came together to end eight of the biggest problems plaguing the development world and pledged to do so by 2015. These goals are collectively referred to as the Millennium Development Goals. With only a few years left we are falling behind our attainment of any of them, in part because of a failure to pay attention to the lack of sanitation internationally. Sanitation plays an important role in ending poverty, creating gender equality, and keeping children in school.
If we hope to sustain the progress made in attaining the Millennium Development Goals it is crucial that the international community pays more attention to the sanitation gap. Sanitation is part of the seventh Millennium Development Goal (ensure environmental sustainability). Right now nearly 40% of the world’s population are without sanitation. At the current rate of progress there will be 2.7 billion people without access to basic sanitation, thats 300,000,000 more than when we started.
[Information courtesy: World Toilet Organization]
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