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5.4 million Children participate in the Hand Washing Campaign in Andhra Pradesh

© UNICEF/ 2008
Children wash hands before a mid day meal

Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, 17 October 2008: 5.4 million school going children in 78,000 government run rural and urban schools, spread across the state of Andhra Pradesh in India participated in the National Campaign for Sanitation and Hygiene promotion on 15th October, the Global Handwashing Day.

The children cleaned the school campus and their classrooms, organized rallies in their respective villages shouting slogans and holding placards to generate awareness on sanitation and hygiene issues; they took the sanitation and handwashing pledge, sang the handwashing jingle and washed their hands with soap before  eating the special mid day meal. 

Special meetings were organized on 15 October by the Child Cabinets which were constituted in all the schools and the results were for everyone to see. The children cleaned the school campus and their classrooms, organized rallies in their respective villages shouting slogans and holding placards to generate awareness on sanitation and hygiene issues; they took the sanitation and handwashing pledge, sang the handwashing jingle and washed their hands with soap before  eating the special mid day meal. 

All this could not have been possible without the massive mobilization of systems, institutions and people which started a month earlier under the leadership of the Secretary, Rural Water Supplies and Sanitation (RWS&S), Government of Andhra Pradesh. The Secretary, School Education and the Secretary, Municipal Corporations also joined the planning, implementation and monitoring of the campaign. At a video conference, the Secretary, RWS&S emphasized to all the District Collectors the importance of the campaign and the role of district administrators in coordinating district level activities with the involvement of staff from Education and RWS&S department.

In just two weeks, the State Water and Sanitation Mission printed and distributed posters, pamphlets and banners across the 78,000 schools in Andhra Pradesh.  Posters on the five steps of hand washing and the posters featuring Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar informing school children about the event on 15th October were displayed in the schools. Pamphlets on the five steps in handwashing and the pledge were distributed to school children in advance by the school teachers. All the school teachers received the training manual highlighting the importance of handwashing with soap and the role of teachers, school children, the local self governance institutions and youths in successful implementation of the campaign.

Two orientation programmes were organized through satellite to ensure that the teachers are aware of their roles and responsibilities. One teacher from each of the 78,000 schools participated in the SATCOM orientations, which was one of the key factors which led to successful implementation of the campaign.

UNICEF partnered with TV-9, the local Telegu channel and one of the channels with the highest viewer ship in Andhra Pradesh to air the one minute jingle on hand washing featuring Sachin Tendulkar and dubbed in the local language.

The state cabinet minister for RWS&S, Government of Andhra Pradesh sent letters well in advance to all the state ministers, and concerned government functionaries requesting them to participate in the campaign in a school in their respective constituencies. This resulted in all senior officials participating in the campaign in different schools of Andhra Pradesh on 15th October.

UNICEF partnered with TV-9, the local Telegu channel and one of the channels with the highest viewer ship in Andhra Pradesh to air the one minute jingle on hand washing featuring Sachin Tendulkar and dubbed in the local language.

Following the success of the Campaign, the focus is to maintain the synergy between RWS&S and the department of School education to mobilize school children and through them the community, for adoption of hygiene practices, especially hand washing and use of toilets in an effort to fight preventable disease.

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