Author Archives: dietvorst

#MenstruationMatters in Bangladeshi schools

28 May is Menstrual Hygiene Day. In Bangladesh, BRAC field staff are working hard to “end the hesitation around menstruation” especially in schools.

BRAC staff member (left) from Jessore district with sanitary napkins for schools.

BRAC staff member (left) from Jessore district with sanitary napkins for schools. Photo: Petra Brussee/IRC

Field staff of BRAC WASH in Bangladesh talk just as easily about menstrual hygiene as they do about water seals for toilets or hand pumps. At community level menstrual hygiene messages are included in the programme for adolescent girls and young women. Since 2006 about 45 million community cluster meetings have been organised.

In rural areas rags are used by women who cannot afford sanitary napkins. Field staff discuss menstrual hygiene with adolescent girls and young women, for example on how to wash rags with soap and dry them in the sun. They are also encouraged to speak up about menstrual hygiene says Abu Taleb Biswas of BRAC WASH in Hygiene Promotion – the backbone of BRAC WASH: “Women and adolescent girls learn to speak up about menstrual hygiene issues, something that was nearly unthinkable even a few years ago.”

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Lifebuoy champions need for handwashing with soap public private partnerships at AfricaSan 4 to improve newborn survival

Photo credit: Lifebuoy/Unilever  #HelpaChildReach5

Photo credit: Lifebuoy/Unilever #HelpaChildReach5

Dakar, Senegal 25th May – Unilever, through health soap brand Lifebuoy is calling on African leaders gathering in Senegal this week for AfricaSan – the continent’s pre-eminent sanitation and hygiene conference – to recognise the role of public private partnerships in addressing newborn and child health. The move comes as Lifebuoy announces the renewal of its partnership with USAID and the expansion of newborn hygiene programmes across Kenya following a successful four-year partnership. Lifebuoy aims to reach 71 million across Africa by 2020 as part of its behaviour change programme which has engaged 257 million people in 24 countries, since 2010.

In its mission to reach 1 billion people with its lifesaving message of handwashing with soap, Lifebuoy joined forces with USAID and its Maternal and Child Survival Programme (MCSP), to create a dedicated newborn programme to make handwashing with soap commonplace among mothers. Worldwide, 40% of under-5 deaths occur in the newborn period and handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, the main causes of child mortality.

The programme will combine Lifebuoy’s marketing and consumer expertise and proven handwashing behaviour change methodology, with MCSP’s ability to deploy programmes on a large scale, allowing the partnership to reach millions of new mothers. The collaboration proves the vital role that public private partnerships play in public health interventions in Africa and beyond.

“Most newborn deaths due to infection could be averted through simple preventive measures, such as improving hygiene and ensuring curative care is available to sick children.   Unilever and USAID renew our commitment to scale up newborn hygiene programs together.  A simple hygiene message – handwashing with soap – can help save the lives of babies,” said Katie Taylor, Deputy Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. “With Unilever and Lifebuoy, we are combining our expertise to achieve real change for the mothers and children in Africa – so every child in Africa can live beyond their fifth birthday.”

Senegalese politician and award-winning singer Youssou N’Dour has pledged his support to Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 5 campaign to highlight the importance of hygiene in reducing child mortality, particularly in Africa. He is described as one of the world’s greatest singers and has advocated for children in Africa and abroad. “50% of the world’s under-5 deaths happens in Africa, with 1 in every 10 children born dying before their 5th birthday,” said N’Dour. “The simple act of handwashing with soap can save children’s lives and should play a key part in the post-2015 development agenda. I am calling on policymakers and governments in Africa to help make this happen by expanding handwashing education programmes.”

The Fourth Regional Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa (AfricaSan 4) is focusing on the theme: Making Sanitation for All a Reality in Africa.  With the launch of the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) in September, Lifebuoy is raising awareness of the need to track handwashing facilities and behaviours in the water and sanitation goal (SDG 6). How individual countries choose to implement the SDGs and build the targets and indicators into their own national plans will determine their success and Lifebuoy is working to ensure its message “Handwashing with soap saves lives” is heard at the highest levels in Africa.

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India sanitation initiative wins prestigious UN prize

Training women in Nadia District, Sabar Shouchagar programme

Training women in Nadia District,. Photo credit: Sabar Shouchagar programme

The UN has awarded one of their prestigious 2015 Public Service Awards to Nadia district in West Bengal for their sanitation initiative Sabar Shouchagar (Toilets for All).

Bordering on Bangladesh,  the rural district has a population of 5.4 million of whom nearly 2 million or 40% practised open defecation in 2013.  This was in sharp contrast with neighbouring Bangladesh, where only 4% of the people practise open defecation. This realisation sparked the district to start pooling available government resources and develop the Sabar Shouchar concept.

Besides pooling government funds, the concept involved mass awareness campaigns, parternships with NGOs, focus on women and children as change agents, rural sanitation marts, transforming district administration and a 10% mandatory user contribution to cost of toilet construction.

All this resulted in Nadia becoming the first Indian district to be declared open defecation free on 30 April 2015.

2015 UNPSA Banner10

Nadia district will receive its award from the United Nations Secretary-General on 23 June 2015 in Medellin, Colombia.

For more information go to: sabarshouchagar.in

Source: Indian Express, 8 May 2015

Toilet humour is serious business [video]

An inspirational (and funny) TEDx talk on the impact of school sanitation on girls in India.

Told by Australian busnessman, Mark Balla whose visit to the world’s largest slum Dharavi changed his life and turned him into a “toilet warrior”.

Mark is the Founder and Director of Community Engagement at We Can’t Wait.

Health workers must have #safeHANDS – WHO annual call to action

WHO #safeHANDS poster

This year’s annual day to recognize hand hygiene among health workers commemorates ten years of the Clean Care is Safer Care programme (2005-2015) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hand hygiene is an important element of infection prevention and control. A recent WHO/UNICEF survey of  66,000 health facilities in developing countries revealed that over a third of them lacked soap for hand washing.

To join the campaign and learn more visit: http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/en/

Webinar: Healing Hands, 5 May 2015, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CEST

Hear from experts from WHO, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Johns Hopkins University on the importance of hand hygiene, the current state of practices and lessons learned from the recent West Africa Ebola Outbreak.

To join the discussion register at the site of the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing.

Advancing WASH in schools monitoring – new UNICEF publication

Advancing WASH in Schools Monitoring coverGlobally, school water and sanitation coverage both increased by six per cent between 2008 and 2013. This is one of the key messages from a new UNICEF working paper “Advancing WASH in schools monitoring“.

The paper presents the best data available for the coverage of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in primary schools gathered from 149 countries for the period 2008-2013. It also compares current national WASH in Schools (WinS) monitoring indicators against global guidelines.

By providing this information the publication responds to the 2012 Call to Action, Raising Even More Clean Hands. It also aims to promote and support improved monitoring of WinS so that coverage indicators can be included in the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation by UN Member States at the international level

Recognition human rights for WASH coverNew publication by Amnesty International and WASH United.

All UN Member States have recognised that the human right to water and the human right to sanitation are part of binding international human rights law.

This publication gathers the evidence of the universal recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation: it gives an overview of the most important resolutions and declarations that recognise the human rights to water and sanitation, including the positions that individual states have taken when those documents were adopted. For 77 countries, it also lists their individual positions and how these have changed over time.

The document has previously served as an internal reference guide for Amnesty International and WASH United. We are publishing it to help others identify the position that their country has taken on the human rights to water and sanitation, to advocate for the rights in their own national contexts, to ensure that these rights will not be ignored in the formulation and implementation of national water and sanitation laws and policy, and to help advance strategic litigation before national, regional and international justice mechanisms.

Gonzalez, C., Khalfan, A., Lande, L. van de, Neumeyer, H. and Scannellad, P., 2015. Recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation by UN Member States at the international level : an overview of resolutions and declarations
that recognise the human rights to water and sanitation. London, UK and Berlin, Germany: Amnesty International and WASH United. 124 p.

Available from WASH United website and Amnesty International website