Focus on Hand Washing – Simple Lessons With a Big Impact in Kiswanya

26th July 2017

I wash my hands to cut the chances of getting dangerous diseases” – Theresia Mfumbilwa, Kiswanya resident and homestay mama
The team meet with village chairman Idd and the hamlet leaders

We have adopted a hydra-headed tactic to combat disease in the village. We are delivering SWASH lessons to schoolchildren in grades one through seven as well as building new school sanitation facilities. We hope both the lessons and facilities will empower the community of Kiswanya to practice good hygiene and pass knowledge about preventing diseases on to future generations.

Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, but it is both preventable and easily treated through safe drinking water and knowledge of sanitation and hygiene. Each year diarrhoea kills around 525,000 children under five and globally there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoea disease every year (Source: WHO, 2017) Before the team’s arrival, the community in Kiswanya lacked sufficient knowledge of good hygiene and sanitation practices.

“The students now know the importance of personal hygiene and washing their hands” – Catherine Shayo, Kiswanya school teacher
Angelina and Abdallah conduct surveys with the local community

One of the areas our lessons have focused on is the importance of hand washing, a key element to good hygiene and sanitation. We have taught lessons on the six steps of hand washing, how to construct tippy taps, the importance of soap and the dangers of not drinking safe water. We have also outlined the link between a lack of safe water and hand washing with illnesses such as diarrhoea.

In Kiswanya, our construction project is almost complete. We are building 18 new toilets, two new staff toilets, a hand washing facility and a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) room. The construction complements the lessons we have been teaching and will offer privacy to the pupils as well as enabling girls to stay in school following puberty.

Compared to before [Raleigh International arrived] students right now are washing their hands and most have mastered the six stages of hand washing” – Beatrice Mendra, Kiswanya school teacher
Angelina, Fareeha and Mathias work on the ramp for the boys toilet

We have been completing the work started by a previous ICS group. Looking at data from initial surveys carried out with the local community last cycle and surveys completed by the current team, we have been able to measure the success of the SWASH lessons. The results of the survey show that since March 2017:

  • 42% more residents boil their water before drinking
  • 40% more residents know to stay hydrated when they have diarrhoea
  • 39% more residents know diarrhoea is linked to poor hygiene
  • 34% more residents know hand washing dramatically cuts the chances of disease

The school currently has a dozen tippy taps on its grounds, providing the children with a way to hygienically wash their hands until the new facilities are completed. We are almost halfway through the project and spirits are high, progress has been good and each member of the team is enthusiastic to complete the work and hand it over to the village. We hope the lessons taught on hand washing and the new facilities will enable generations of school children in Kiswanya to practice good hygiene and avoid easily preventable but potentially serious diseases.

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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Tanzania