Tag Archives: Global Hand Washing Day

Bringing proper sanitation to rural Afghanistan

The second Global Handwashing Day was celebrated on 15 October 2009 in Kabul and 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

“At home, I wash my hands every morning and noon and evening, and also when I come from the toilet,” said 11-year-old Abdullah Farzad.

Afghanistan’s mortality rates are among the highest in the world. One out of four children dies before her or his fifth birthday. High diarrhoea prevalence resulting from poor hygiene practices, lack of access to sanitation facilities and clean water impact heavily on children’s survival and development. According to a joint UNICEF/WHO report released this week, more than 80,000 children under five died as a result of diarrhoea in Afghanistan in 2007.

“When I started to go to school one year ago, one of the first things our teacher explained to us was the importance of washing the hands before eating,” said Abdullah. “Since then, I have explained this to my mother. In the beginning she was skeptical, but when I told her about the examples that we heard at school – from babies who get sick and die – she started to change.”

Promoting a life-saving intervention

The village of Sohol, Afghanistan is enclaved within mountains. Its residents have no running water and access to safe water and sanitation supplies has been difficult for many.

Despite its life-saving potential, hand-washing with soap is seldom practiced in Afghanistan and not always easy to promote. About 22 per cent of households have access to safe water and less than one out of 10 families has access to latrine facilities.

“We have a water-point in Sohol, our village. Usually it is my sister who goes to fetch the water in the morning and the evening, but sometimes I have to help her. It takes about ten minutes from our house to the water-point,” said Abdullah.

Although people may be aware that water alone is not enough, many families still do not want to invest in buying soap.

“In the past many parents said that it is too expensive to buy soap. Last year, community animators came and made clear to them how much this little investment can do, to ensure the health of their families.” said teacher Mohammad Abdullah.

“It was not easy to make them change their mind, because in a remote place like Sohol it is not always simple to have water and soap at hand when you should have it.”

The ‘Healthy School Initiative’

As a follow-up to the 2008 International Year of Sanitation, UNICEF has initiated clean village projects promoting sustainable behaviour changes on key hygiene practices among families.

The ‘healthy schools’ initiative – which includes the construction of separate toilets for girls and boys, safe drinking water systems and the training of teachers on effective hygiene promotion – is also being implemented.

To date, 1,000 schools with a total of about 320,000 students benefit directly from this intervention.

Abdullah’s school is also one out of 126 schools chosen across 11 provinces for a pilot project of the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, where water and sanitation facilities are combined with a hot meal.

Water-points, toilets and hygiene education are taken care of by UNICEF, while WFP is providing food commodities and kitchen equipment.

It is estimated that more than 70,000 school children participated in this year’s Global Handwashing Day in Afghanistan. In spite of continued conflict, they celebrated together with millions of other children across five continents.

Source: Cornelia Walther, UNICEF, 16 Oct 2009

Gambia: UN International Year of Sanitation and Global Hand Washing Day Commemorated

The Gambia last Wednesday joined the rest of the international community to commemorate UN international year of sanitation and global hand washing day.

Global hand washing day, the first of its kind, focuses on children and schools in order to raise awareness and promote behavioral change. (…)

Vice president Njie-Saidy highlighted the importance of washing hands with soap, saying it is the most effective and least costly of preventing diarrhea and pneumonia.

She expressed governments’ full commitment and political will to the attainment of the MDG targets. (…)

Read all The Point

Namibia: Today Is Hand Washing Day

By Petronella Sibeene, WINDHOEK

Today, Namibia joins the rest of the world in commemorating the first ever Global Hand Washing Day.  (…)

In Namibia, the main event is scheduled to take place in the Ohangwena Region today.  (…)

Namibia, particularly the northern regions, have just come out of a cholera outbreak that claimed 37 lives. In addition, in the Kunene Region, only 2 236 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported at different health facilities with 10 cases being confirmed as cholera.  (…)

“It is a very important day for Namibia especially that we have just come out of a cholera situation. We are advocating the washing of hands with soap to kill the bacteria or germs,” the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi told New Era. (…)

Read all NewEra.com

Bangladesh: Kids wash hands across country, Asia

Dhaka, Oct 15 (bdnews24.com)—More than 120 million children across South Asia will have clean hands Wednesday as they mark Global Hand Washing Day.

“From Kabul to Karachi, Kathmandu to Kerala and Colombo, Wednesday is likely to break all records as millions and millions of children practice the power of proper sanitation through soap suds,” Unicef said in a statement.

Bangladesh along with 62 countries around the world will observe the day for the first time this year, as part of the International Year of Sanitation.

More that 16 million children from 73,000 primary and secondary schools countrywide will pledge to promote hand washing with soap after going to the toilet and before a meal.  (…)

Read all BDNews24.com