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SAGA CORNER

Global Handwashing Day : WASH (Water, Health and Hygiene)

New Delhi : One thousand children and teachers from schools and organisations received training using play based methodology at the pre-Global Handwashing Day (GHD) ‘Swachh Hand Mela 2017’ organized by WASH United (WU) in partnership with the UNICEF at the National Bal Bhavan.

The necessity of such a large-scale training had been felt after it was observed that children, though aware about WASH (Water, Health and Hygiene) principles, seldom practice hygiene or inculcates them on a regular basis in their day to day practice.

As part of the training, 3 games from an innovative kit called the ‘Team Swachh Vidyalya Action Kit’ were demonstrated before children to motivate them to always use toilets and wash hands with soap before eating and after toilet use. The games have positive messaging to make handwashing with soap exciting and turn it into a habit. Students learn critical WASH behaviour through a combination of team play, discussions and action.

The Team Swachh Bharat Action Kit is for use in schools and comes fully equipped with an introduction guide, a letter from Sachin Tendulkar, an activity playbook, a planner/timetable, a full set of modular materials/props and posters. Children learn “why” and “how” to practice good WASH behavior through repetitive activities. A step-by-step guide makes the toolkit extremely easy to use for teachers. Children can play in groups with each game lasting for about 20-25 minutes. The goal is completely focused on ‘doing’ rather than memorizing which in turn lead to positive habit formation.

The kits are being implemented by NGOs across some schools in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and in Telangana where it is implemented by the Swachh Andhra Corporation. At the central level, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has acknowledged the importance of the Kit by giving them as gifts to schools that performed well in the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar in September 2017. Interestingly, everything which is available in the kit can also be made by the children themselves using locally available material. A do-it-yourself guide called Hamara! Action Kit assist children and teachers to design the material themselves.

Nirmala Nair, India Director, WASH UNITED said, “Children learn better through play! Exciting and fun games enable them to be active and generate their own insights about WASH issues. Playful experiences and competition make WASH issues “stick” much better than lectures and motivate them to act together.”

Millions of school days are lost every year because students remain absent due to diarrhea and other diseases transmitted through dirty hands. Children are most severely affected by dirty water, poor hygiene and a lack of sanitation. In India, almost 400 children under five years of age die every day from preventable diarrhea linked to poor sanitation and hygiene; this is the highest number worldwide. Countless more are left physically stunted and mentally impaired for the rest of their lives.

Nicolas Osbert, Chief of WASH, UNICEF, said, “Good hygiene practices significantly reduce the incidence of diseases such as diarrhoeas, cholera, dysentery, pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin, eye infections as well as infections by worms, helminths and other parasites. Something as simple as handwashing saves lives. Washing hands with soap at critical times, like after going to the toilet or before eating and before preparing food has a significant impact on children’s health. Through simple games, songs and fun activities, such as those developed by UNICEF and WASH United, children can learn about how to properly wash their hands and become hand washing champions demonstrating the practice in their families, schools and communities. UNICEF continues to support the Government of India in its continued efforts to improve children’s access to clean water and sanitation across the country.”

To commemorate Global Handwashing Day, a new educational video on handwashing was also released by WASH UNITED and UNICEF on Team Swachh Bharat social media channels. The campaign was displayed on LED screens at the National Bal Bhavan. An online campaign was also simultaneously launched via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account.

“Every school in India should have a Team Swachh Vidyalya Action Kit, so that every child can be trained in good sanitation and hygiene behaviour. We urge the corporate sector and the government to come forward and play a constructive role in building Swachh Bharat and ensure every child gets a good start in life,” said Nirmala Nair, India Director, WASH UNITED. “We want to make the WASH trainings affordable for everyone. Creating games from local and low-cost materials achieves exactly that, and increases children’s interest and ownership in the WASH games.”

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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