Help more children reach their fifth birthday: Millions celebrate Global Handwashing Day 2012 worldwide.
For the fifth consecutive year, on October 15, 2012, hundreds of millions of people around the world will celebrate Global Handwashing Day aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease. Over the past five years, Global Handwashing Day has grown from a one-day celebration in a few cities to a worldwide movement that has mobilized significant investment in and political support for handwashing with soap.
This year we have much to celebrate. In 2011, 600,000 fewer children under five died than in 2008, the first year Global Handwashing Day was celebrated. Handwashing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health. One of the most cost-effective interventions, simply handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under five by almost 50 percent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.
A survey commissioned by UNCIEF in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 suggested that poor hand washing facilities were observed in 61% of the schools and there were none in 39%. Only 42% of these hand-washing facilities were functional at the time of the survey.The current situation is preventing school children from practicing handwashing and increases the risk of disease. This also shows the need to undertake activities in the areas of hygiene promotion. This year UNICEF-Kyrgyzstan and its partner organizations NGO Sinton and NGO Aizhan will carry out activities promoting handwashing with soap in a number of schools and kindergartens. These activities will aim at strengthening good practices of washing hands with soap after the toilet and before eating among children.
In Kyrgyzstan remote schools have exceedingly poor infrastructure where year round water supplies for hand washing are the exception rather than the norm. UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (WASH)continuesimplementation of projects focusing on child-friendly outcomes and appropriate school infrastructure. The Programme has initiated the following activities which, at a country level at least, are innovative:
Construction of ‘freeze-proof” flush toilet systems (where water supply for the flush systems does not freeze during winter months), Osh 2011. Design focus on “freeze-proof”, year-round access of water for hand-washing at 95% of targeted schools.
Provision of separate wash-rooms for boys and girls providing a warm, clean and private environment, especially for young girls, for hand-washing and general personal hygiene purposes. These facilities are located in-between the school latrine and school buildings to facilitate a hand-washing culture.
Construction of “pilot” Septic Tank sewage systems which can offerthe provision of flush toilets at remote schools and a treatment system which is cheaper than the earlier alternatives. The pilot will aim to draw wider public attention and endeavor to have this system adopted by the National Water and Sanitation standards.
During 2013 UNICEF-Kyrgyzstan plans to undertake a project specifically focused on sustainability at 50 schools. The project will focus on Hygiene Education at both the class room and national level, Operation and Maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure, budgeting (maintenance, procurement of consumables, etc), advocacy for priority focus onWASH in Schools and addressing accountability issues.
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For more information on how you can celebrate Global Handwashing Day’s fifth anniversary, visit www.globalhandwashing.org