Celebrate Global Handwashing Day: Raise a Hand for Hygiene!

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October 15 marks the annual celebration of Global Handwashing Day. Over 200 million people will be promoting one simple behavior that can save lives all over the world—handwashing with soap. Every year, 1.7 million children are killed by diarrhea and pneumonia—two diseases that can be significantly prevented through good hygiene practices. Even with the knowledge that handwashing with soap can improve health and save lives, it isn’t practiced nearly enough, and resources geared toward its promotion, necessary supplies, or facilities are inadequate.

The WASHplus project, funded by USAID, is working diligently to address the lack of infrastructure that prevents access to handwashing with soap, and promoting simple messaging around washing hands with soap at critical times. This can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under 5 by 47 percent and respiratory infections by approximately 25 percent.

Hygiene is also critical to educational achievement, ensuring that students don’t miss school due to illness; economics, through increased worker attendance and productivity; and equity, which girls gain when they are able to safely manage menstruation at school. Given the broad impact of hygiene, it is essential that handwashing facilities and behavior change programs be prioritized.

Join us in raising a hand for hygiene on Global Handwashing Day and every day! Enjoy the joyful images of handwashing activities from our project activities, where we work to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

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These school children in Zambia’s Eastern Province know the importance of having clean hands and can now practice good hygiene behavior thanks to the SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) project’s installation of handwashing stations at their school.
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Plastic water bottles are easy to find and turn into simple tippy taps for handwashing. Strung together on a pole, they make a group handwashing station at a school in Madagascar.
Through SPLASH, WASH-Friendly Schools in Zambia teach students about the importance of hand washing and provide hand washing stations nearby latrines.
Thanks to WASHplus’s SPLASH project in Zambia, students at Kakumbi Primary take their lessons on handwashing seriously and pass these improved behaviors along to their households and communities.
Mother and child in Bangladesh wash hands before mealtime
In Bangladesh, WASHplus works to integrate important WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) behaviors into nutrition activities. Washing hands before cooking, eating, or feeding a baby is emphasized to mother’s groups.
Schoolboy washing his hands
This school boy is lucky to attend a WASH-Friendly school that ensures its students have enough latrines for boys and girls with available handwashing stations, a clean schoolyard, and lessons that incorporate important sanitation and hygiene messages.
Children at EPP Ambanitsena washing their hands with soap and water before going home for lunch.
Children in Madagascar wash their hands with soap and water before going home for lunch.
Woman washing hands at a tippy tap in Benin
WASHplus trains community health workers in Benin to make household tippy taps for handwashing using readily available materials. These workers pass on the knowledge through household visits and community events.
A little girl learns to wash her hands before eating
As part of its nutrition screening and referral activity in Mali, WASHplus shows how to wash hands properly with soap before children eat at nutrition centers and before meals are prepared during community cooking demonstrations.
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New water points and soap encourage handwashing at schools in Zambia and also have a profound impact on surrounding communities that are encouraged to use them after attending sensitization training on how to protect the infrastructure and contribute to its maintenance.
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Small Doable Actions: Simple Steps That People Can Take to Improve WASH

Small doable actions are simple steps that people can take to improve WASH in their communities!

Zambia—Public-Private Pad-Making Partnership

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At the 2014 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Day celebrations in Zambia, YASH Pharmaceuticals partnered with the WASHplus SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) project, funded by USAID/Zambia, to provide 150 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits for girls at Kabulonga Girl’s Secondary School in Lusaka. The popularity of the reusable pad-making demonstration at the event spurred YASH to undertake its own production of reusable pads. Zambia_ Pad making

In January 2015 YASH and SPLASH signed a memorandum of understanding to codify their public-private partnership. YASH will employ local women to sew reusable pads; 10 percent of all pads produced will be distributed to SPLASH intervention schools where SPLASH provides MHM support and education with the goal of keeping more girls in school. Production is underway and the pads are being piloted in SPLASH intervention schools. Comments received from users so far indicate the pads are of high-quality fabric and very comfortable. SPLASH is seeking additional partners to purchase and distribute pads to other schools so the MHM needs of girls are taken care of and they can focus on learning.

African EduWeek 2014: Expert Interview with Justin Lupele

lupele_justin_2013_200x220 An interview with Dr. Justin Lupele, Chief of Party, WASH Project in Zambia.  He is part of an  expert panel at the upcoming 2014 African EduWeek on “Educating in today’s social and  economic climate: Best approaches for educational challenges.”  This interview first appeared on the African EduWeek 2014 website here.

1)    Please can you give us some background on your organisation and your role? SPLASH is a five-year USAID-funded project that aims to reach 246,000 primary school pupils in four districts of Eastern Province, Zambia (Mambwe, Chipata, Lundazi, and Chadiza). SPLASH is implemented by WASHplus, which is managed by FHI 360 as a prime and CARE as a sub-grantee. The project works within the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training, and Early Education (MESVTEE) and other line ministries such as Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) and Ministry of Health (MOH). SPLASH’s overall objective is to sustainably improve access to safe water, adequate sanitation, hygiene information and health practices to improve learning environments and educational performance in basic schools.  The overall objective will be achieved by means of the following five key task areas:

  1. Install and rehabilitate improved WASH infrastructure in schools using a service-delivery framework
  2. Improve hygiene behaviors and health of learners and teachers and subsequently their communities
  3. Strengthen local governance and coordination of WASH in Schools through the involvement of multiple stakeholders
  4. Engage those who set policies at the national, provincial, and district levels to support WASH in Schools
  5. Strengthen the capacity of small-scale service providers and the private sector to deliver WASH goods and services on a sustainable basis.

I am the Chief of Party/Project Director.

2)    What education focused projects are you involved in that you are particularly excited about? The project is involved in hygiene education. I am particularly interested in menstrual hygiene management education. Through this programme we are enabling hundreds of girl children that have reached puberty to attend class as we encourage the provision of sanitary towels and washrooms for girls to manage their menses and continue to attend classes.

3)    What in your view are the main challenges in education in Africa? The main challenge of education in Africa is the low investment by most countries. The national budgets on education are very low – in most cases less than 20% of the total budget. Deployment of qualified teachers, often trained at the country’s expense is another challenge. In the efforts of reducing wage bills, trained teachers are not being employed. This results in having schools that are managed by untrained teachers. HIV/AIDS has also contributed to the attrition of teachers.

4)    What surprises you about your work? I am surprised at my work that ministries of education in Africa and other discussions around quality of education do not tackle water and sanitation as one of the factors that contribute to education quality.

5)    You are part of an expert panel on socio-economic issues in the education at African EduWeek.  What will be your message at EduWeek this year? My message will be to urge participants and governments in Africa to look at education quality holistically and to invest in water, sanitation and hygiene education. 6)    What are you most looking forward to at African EduWeek? I am looking forward to learning from others, insights on how to improve learner attendance, especially girl children in rural Africa, and ways of lobbying governments to increase funding to education.

Postcard from Montana

 

sarah fry thumbnailA postcard from “Sustaining the Blue Planet” Conference 2014, Big Sky, Montana

Montana is not a usual spot for international WASH and development folks to congregate.  Usually it’s Dakar or The Hague.  But here we are from Nigeria, China, Laos, India and many U.S. states, to talk about integrating water and WASH literacy into the classrooms of the world.

The WASH in Schools global community set a challenge for itself this year to attend and present at conferences sponsored by the education sector to highlight WASH as a critical element of quality education.  Integration of WASH and Education has special challenges that stem from different visions.  Education wants children to stay in school and learn; WASH wants to prevent diarrheal disease in small children; and WASH in Schools wants to keep schoolchildren healthy.  The key to effective integration of WASH and Education is to meld the two visions into one shared one that everyone can support:  assuring a clean and safe school environment and healthy habits that keep children in school, able to learn and grow into well-educated, healthy and economically secure adults.

Project WET is a pioneer in this, and their annual conference is heavily attended by education professionals.   Honoring the commitment to be present at education events, the WASHplus project (funded by USAID) sent me to this conference to share our experience from the SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning and Achievement  through Sanitation and Hygiene) project that we are implementing in Zambia and to talk about how we are integrating WASH into the Zambian educational system.  Yesterday our talk described how WASH integration is occurring in two streams, by:

1) creating opportunities to learn (OTL) through WASH (improving educational outcomes) and

2) creating opportunities to learn about WASH (improving life skills and forming hygiene habits).

Usually WASH in Schools makes us think of building nice latrines and tippy taps for hand washing.  In fact, we have found that weaving WASH into the education sector is a complex job that presents many opportunities worth seizing.  The education sector identifies nine “OTL”s of which five are influenced by WASH improvements.  An example of opportunities to learn would be student and teacher attendance, which can be affected by the presence or absence of improved, gender segregated toilets and safe drinking water.  More WASH-related obstacles to learning that present opportunities when fixed are lack of places and means for hygienic managing of menstruation and also hand washing, and schoolyards that are unsafe and unsavory due to nearby open defecation practices.

WASH in Schools also creates opportunities for the pupils, teachers and the nearby community to learn about the importance of using latrines, drinking safe water and practicing hygiene, hopefully leading to lifelong good habits.   SPLASH uses SLTS (school-led total sanitation) to help the school community along the path to becoming WASH friendly.  SPLASH also builds WASH into the official teacher in-service training system where the teachers themselves can develop classroom activities that fold WASH themes into history, language, math, science and other subjects.  This is what most of the participants at this conference are actively doing – finding innovative ways to support teachers to teach the next generation of leaders and managers about water conservation, battling invasive species, engineering challenges and using the latest technologies to solve challenges, just as examples.

The setting here in Montana is breathtaking and our hosts are quick to point out the state’s abundant natural resources and its commitment to preserving them.  One participant took the theme “Sustaining the Blue Planet” to a stratospheric level last night…literally!  Astronaut and conservation advocate Richard Arnold shared his stunning photos and moving video clips taken by himself from the International Space Station, showing us the glory and the fragility of our shared blue home, another thing that educators and WASH practitioners can bond over.

Author: Sarah Fry is a Senior Hygiene and School WASH Advisor with the USAID funded WASHplus Project. She is the WASHplus point person for integration of WASH and Education, manages the USAID-funded SPLASH program in Zambia and an urban hygiene improvement program in Benin.  Sarah has been working in WASH since her Peace Corps days in Benin.  She has a MPH from UNC/Chapel Hill.

Let Kids Learn

Bringing WASH to classrooms, turning a cycle of poor health, interrupted learning and gender inequity into a cycle of opportunity.

Poor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) lead to poor health. Poor health keeps kids out of school, and when kids miss class, they can’t learn. FHI 360 and CARE, in partnership with USAID and the Ministry of Education in Zambia, are bringing WASH to classrooms, turning a cycle of poor health, interrupted learning and gender inequity into a cycle of opportunity.

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BUILDING BLOCKS FOR LEARNING

Clean water, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene require appropriate facilities and an awareness of good practices. SPLASH is a five-year project started in 2011 funded by USAID Zambia to reach more than 240,300 primary school pupils in three districts of the Eastern Province (Chipata, Lundazi, Mambwe and Chadiza). SPLASH aims to improve pupils’ health, learning and performance by increasing their access to safe water and adequate sanitation and improving their hygiene and health practices at school and at home

Through the SPLASH partnership under WASHplus, CARE International supports the construction of boreholes and sanitation facilities, while FHI 360 supports teacher training and curriculum development. Local ministries, nongovernmental organizations and communities take it from there.

CONSTRUCTING FACILITIES

Theresa J.V. Ngoma, District Education Board Secretary, Mambwe

INVOLVING COMMUNITIES

Patricia Mitti Mazonga, Head Teacher, Mambwe

DEVELOPING CURRICULA

Margaret Phiri Mapata, District Resource Center Coordinator, Chipata

PLAYFUL PARTICIPATION FOR LIFELONG HABITS

A solid infrastructure provides a foundation for lifelong healthy habits to take root. Schools form WASH clubs for students and WASH committees for parents and community members.

Manda Esaya E., Teacher, School WASH Coordinator, Lundazi

BEING A MEMBER OF WASH CLUB

WASH clubs and committees engage students and community members through skits, songs, dances, poems and prayer.

Jennifer Jere, WASH Club member, Mambwe

MANAGING MENSTRUAL HYGIENE – EQUITABLE EXPERIENCES FOR GIRLS

Good menstrual hygiene management is critical to keeping girls in school all month long. Equipped with new washrooms for girls, the schools have also taken steps to prevent teasing and ensure a comfortable environment for menstruating students.

Solomon Mwanza, Head Teacher, Lundazi

FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE COMMUNITY

Small doable actions are simple steps that people can take to improve WASH.

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