New Delhi: Keen to find a solution to the problem of open defecation, the Government on Wednesday invited Bill Gates Foundation to partner with it in its efforts to create better and low-cost sanitation facilities in the country.
Union Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh had a meeting with Bill Gates and his team members here in this regard and asked them to have a more India-focused approach as 58 per cent of all open defecations in the world is in India and the problem is particularly daunting in rural areas. 60 per cent of the 1.1 billion population of India still practise open defecation.
Gates Foundation was urged to partner with Indian Institutes in the research and development field to help co-develop low-cost sanitation solutions, a release from the Rural Development Ministry said.
The minister also called for launching a global joint initiative for developing low-cost technological solutions for clean toilets in Railways, as 11 million passengers commute daily without proper hygienic conditions.
Ramesh also sought help in devising Behavioural Change and Communication Pilots on the lines of Pulse Polio Campaign Model for toilet use in India.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had launched the initiative titled reinventing the toilet last year at Rwanda, Africa to help bring safe, clean sanitation services to millions of poor people in the developing world.
In the meeting, Gates expressed interest in objectives of the Rural Livelihoods Foundation and stressed on keeping the dialogue open for future cooperation.