Promoting hygiene for life on Global Handwashing Day

On the occasion of the Global Handwashing Day on October 15, Green Cross Bolivia is organizing a workshop in Charagua in which teachers, headmasters and professors of schools of that region are trained and sensibilized on raising awareness about the importance of washing hands to prevent diarrheal diseases amongst the scholarship.

The participants in the workshop will be shown how to best teach their pupils about proper handwashing procedures and the importance of cleaning the hands to avoid transmission of fecal materials to the mouth, which is a major cause for diarrheal diseases. 25 teachers coming from very remote villages of the big municipality of Charagua will attend the workshop and be asked to train 45 other colleagues of theirs, so as to cover all schools of the territory. Some of them are indeed more than 100km away from the township. This will allow to reach out to more than 1,600 pupils representing 32% of the local population, and indirectly to some 1,400 families living in the township.

Marie-Laure Vercambre, Director of the Water for Life and Peace Programme at Green Cross International commented about this initiative: “Diarrhea kills about two million children under the age of five every year and we know that the vast majority of those tragic deaths are due to the lack of access to safe drinking water, the lack of access to sanitation and of basic hygiene. More hygienic practices are often at reach and will go a long way addressing the risk of contamination. This is why there is such a day! Sometimes the missing link is only awareness. This is why Green Cross promotes access to water, sanitation and hygiene in its Smart Water for Green Schools projects. Simple things save lives”.

Over the past years, Green Cross has been very active in the township of Charagua and its neighboring districts in the south of Bolivia where it has unfolded numerous projects as part of the “Smart Water for Green Schools” programme. This on-the-ground activity provides sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by equipping schools with rainwater harvesting systems, wells and boreholes, as well as ecological sanitation facilities.

In the context of the Global Handwashing Day, Green Cross organizes such education activities focusing on increasing knowledge about the importance of washing hands with soap and water to lay the foundation to incorporate good hygiene habits for life. This international day helps raising awareness and learning more about the transmission of diseases such as diarrhea. Such school-based activities are therefore of great importance to ensure good behaviors get embedded in daily habits. The population less than 14 years is commonly the most affected by diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, and these are also the main causes for infant mortality. This is why it is important to teach children about proper and safe procedures to avoid such contaminations.

Did you know?

• In 2011, 2.5 billion people had no access to improved sanitation facilities (such as latrines), which represents 33% of the world population

• In 2011, open-air defecation in fields, forests, bushes, surface waters or other open areas still affects 15% of the population, or around 1 billion people worldwide

• Each day, 7,500 persons of which 5,000 are children of less than 5 years die because of the lack of sanitary infrastructure

• Each year, diarrheal diseases are the cause for the death of around 2 million children of less than 5 years; the most recent estimations indicate that improved sanitation facilities and access to fresh water could save 2.2 million children per year, which is 5,500 per day

• Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and the lack of hygiene are amongst the 10 major causes for illness at worldwide level

• Problems with drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are responsible for nearly 10% of diseases around the world each year