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Hoga Saaf Pakistan: Reckitt Benckiser joins “Clean & Green Pakistan”


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Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational company known world wide, for its brand, Dettol, has joined Prime Minister Imran Khan’s campaign of Clean & Green Pakistan pledging to support it with Rs. one billion to begin with. Amin Aslam, Minister for Climate Change and Fahad Ashraf, CEO Reckitt Benckiser, joined prominent TV Anchor, Moeed Pirzada in his program in an interesting discussion, explaining their goals, on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) had announced its decision to invest Rupees 1 billion to support Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Clean & Green Pakistan Campaign. RB has been promoting its own cleanliness campaign, “Hoga Saaf Pakistan”, since last year, and now, it has joined forces with Ministry of Climate Change that is tasked by Prime Minister to implement the campaign. PM Imran Khan had kick started the campaign on Oct 13, 2018, by tree planation in a local girl’s college in Islamabad. He helped with cleaning trash and later washed his hands to emphasize both aspects: Green & Clean.

On 24th, we will carry out a plantation drive in KPK, followed by AJK and other provinces.” The other indicators include solid waste management, liquid waste management, sanitation, and clean drinking water. 

Amin Aslam, Minister for Climate Change, and Fahad Ashraf, CEO Reckitt Benckiser, joined Moeed Pirzada, prominent TV Anchor, in his show, to explain their goals and how they are going to achieve these. Minister Malik Amin Aslam while responding to Anchor’s  comment on Pakistan’s improved position in United Nation’s Global Happiness Index stated, “Pakistan is welcoming a new sense of direction, and Prime Minister Khan’s clean and green project is also an aspect of this new direction, because no other leadership has taken such an initiative.” In the discussion that followed it appeared that while federal government and provinces will be working on “Green Pakistan” the corporate sector, like Reckitt Benckiser will take lead in shaping a “Clean Pakistan”

What has the PTI-led Government Achieved So Far?

Responding to Anchor’s question as to what has government achieved so far since October, when the PM had initiated the campaign, the Minister of Climate Change stressed that PTI government is planning it very carefully and comprehensively and the federal government intends to intervene in only two locations: Islamabad and Gwadar. He explained that the “Key Performance Indicators (KPI)” have been established, by his ministry, to monitor the interventions of the local governments.

Minister, Malik Ameen Aslam, explaining these five KPI (performance indicators) said, “These indicators include greenery, for which the 10 billion tree tsunami project is ongoing, today we planted 8 lac plants in Punjab to commemorate Plant for Punjab Day. On 24th, we will carry out a plantation drive in KPK, followed by AJK and other provinces.” The other indicators include solid waste management, liquid waste management, sanitation, and clean drinking water.

Read more: A Green Pakistan

Federal Govt. to provide a model for provinces to act?

In response, Dr. Pirzada’s probes on the initiatives taken by the Imran Khan-led government so far, the Minister for Climate Change further explained, “We intend to create a model that will be implemented in Islamabad, and then we will export it throughout Pakistan. Recently, we started a project in Punjab that involves piloting with two union councils of the districts, and is expected to launch in June-July”.  Basically, federal govt. intends to develop a successful template for provinces and local governments to implement.

Welcoming the partnership with Reckitt Benckiser, Minister Aslam emphasized: “We are very thankful to Reckitt Benckiser, they have made a great commitment and allotted Rs. 1 billion worth of CSR fund for the Prime Minister’s project over the next five years. It appears that Reckitt Benckiser’s initiative has encouraged other companies to join in because Minister added: “We are joining hands with many other corporations. Today, we were joined by Procter & Gamble, Nestle, NRSP, Zalmi Foundation, and proper MoUs have been signed.”

Reckitt Benckiser’s Vision?

Reckitt Benckiser is a British multinational company headquartered in Slough, UK. It came into existence in 1999, through the merger of UK based Reckitt & Colman and the Netherland based Benckiser NV. Most Pakistanis still remember its old British name: Reckitt & Colman that produced the famous household product, “Dettol”. But today, apart from Dettol, RB has many known products in Pakistani market including indigestion remedy, Gaviscon and the sore throat medicine, Strepsils.

“Now every household is doing that, and the kids who obtained this education in school are now responsible parents teaching the same to their children. These things take time, but once you begin a positive cycle, it becomes easier.”

Fahad Ashraf, the Chief Executive of Reckitt Benckiser and one of the youngest CEOs in Pakistan, spoke about his involvement in Prime Minister’s clean and green campaign, he stated, “Today global realization is that if you want to engage in business and have successful brands, you have to do something extraordinary because the traditional age of doing business is long gone. Three year ago, we began associating a purpose with our products, and Dettol, being a very trusted brand, we believe that it has to play a bigger role in improving people’s cleaning standards, and safeguarding them from germs.” In his discussion with Anchor, he explained that modern corporations have to contribute to the welfare of the societies they do business in.

Ashraf highlighted that given Reckitt Benckiser’s connections with civil agencies and experiences in healthcare and cleanliness campaigns, across the world, it is a natural partner for Prime Minister’s campaign. He said, “We believe that a clean society will be protected against germs and illnesses, leading to higher productivity and a prosperous nation. Back in PSL 2018, we launched our ‘Hoga Saaf Pakistan’ and began our small-scale campaign on cleanliness, and when the PTI-led government was established and Imran Khan introduced his vision of “Clean & Green Pakistan”, we approached the government to play a bigger role in this. We are equipped with global understanding and experience as we are involved in supporting multiple causes; in certain countries, we work on HIV and on Diarrhea in others…”

Read more: Countering the grave challenges: Clean and Green Pakistan

The CEO of Reckitt Benckiser highlighted that this entire campaign for cleanliness has two sides, one is related to infrastructure and government spending, which is to have the right companies and to institute the right processes in place and second side dictates that half the problem of garbage and uncleanliness has to be addressed by the citizens. He argued, “As Reckitt Benckiser, our aim is to obtain understanding and insights from people to convince them like we convince them to invest in a product by outlining its emotional and functional benefits. We take responsibility of promotion through a large-scale campaign that will create a lot of social pressure and a social recognition of the understanding of cleanliness.” Basically, Reckitt Benckiser is undertaking a challenge to help create awareness in citizens about cleanliness and to bring around a behavioral change.

Why is Europe So Clean & How Can Pakistan Follow Suit?

Upon Dr. Moeed Pirzada’s question on why the European states are so clean, Fahad Ashraf attributed this cleanliness to awareness, use of modern infrastructure and diligence of the governments. He explained that “while we are now planning to take initiatives to dispose of our garbage” Europeans started thirty years ago and their principal success came through the concept of “Sorting”. Sorting, according to Fahad Ashraf, is the most important element in the overall concept of recycling. He meant that European households have learnt to dispose off garbage in different categories like: Food, Paper & cardboard, Glass and metal etc.

“The third target is to build a reach of about 80 million through mass media.” The CEO of Reckitt Benckiser highlighted intentions to promote behavioral changes towards cleanliness through advertisements.

Fahad Ashraf highlighted that during a study conducted in the west, we discovered that environmental activists began advocating cleanliness and recycling to children some 30 years ago because they identified that it is difficult to change the behavioral patterns of adults. Instead, they started teaching children to pressurize their parents and adults to responsibly recycle and sort out garbage. “Now every household is doing that, and the kids who obtained this education in school are now responsible parents teaching the same to their children. These things take time, but once you begin a positive cycle, it becomes easier.”

Fahad Ashraf added that it is important to prioritize objectives, and being a developing country, Pakistan lacks infrastructure. “We are working to bring toilets in the homes of the villagers of Pakistan, and the government has set a standard that is “Open Defecation Free”. It is important to understand that a toilet is the epicenter of germs in a house.” He highlighted the case of a middle-class woman, living in a specious house,  in a Pakistani village who argued that “she couldn’t afford to build a bathroom because it costs almost Rs. 70,000” Fahad Ashraf then asked her, “What if I give you Rs. 1 lac, then what will you do?” and she said; “ “I’d buy a large TV and save money for my daughter’s dowry”.

Read more: PM Khan to launch “Pakistan Cleanliness Movement” next month

Reckitt Benckiser Wants to Engage Children to Promote Cleanliness?

Fahad Ashraf explained Reckitt Benckiser’s strategy, “Our objective, to which we are positively committed, is to give greater priority to cleanliness and toilets because it is difficult to move ahead without overcoming these challenges. We believe that children are the most important element of our strategy, who will be the agents of change.

The second important element is mass advertising and key opinion leaders, including celebrities, doctors, and other influencers”. Fahad Ashraf highlighted that it is important for media celebrities and morning show hosts to discuss important issues related to cleanliness as opposed to repeatedly  discussing the various ways of throwing a grand wedding; with media’s positive role awareness is likely to grow and expand throughout the society.

“We have three milestones; one is our school program that has a physical challenge of reaching to as many children as possible. This year, we intend to reach 20 million students to give one-on-one education in classes”. Fahad Ashraf announced that Reckitt Benckiser had already begun its campaign and has reached 2.5 million students so far. “The second phase is the rural program, and by the end of this year, we intend to give 500 villages the status of Open Defecation Free, which means that in every village, all houses will have access to toilets, safe drinking water, and cleanliness awareness”.

Read more: PM’s “Clean & Green Pakistan” campaign gets a boost from NBP

“The third target is to build a reach of about 80 million through mass media.” The CEO of Reckitt Benckiser highlighted intentions to promote behavioral changes towards cleanliness through advertisements.

The Minister for Climate Change, Malik Ameen Aslam, concluded that the federal government is devising a framework that will inspect and promote these developments and recycling campaigns across the country.

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