Zimbabwe commemorates Global Handwashing Day and National Sanitation Week
by Yollanda Washaya
Harare, 22 October 2013 - The Ministry of Health and Child Care together with UNICEF Zimbabwe commemorated the Global Handwashing Day jointly with the National Sanitation week on 18 October at Uzumba Primary School, Uzumba Maramba-Pfungwe under the theme “Zero Open Defaecation + Hand Washing with Soap = Diarrhoea-free Communities.”
Around 4000 people from the district and surrounding communities attended the event which was marked by various performances by local entertainment groups and various competitions which ran in line with the theme.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion in one of Zimbabwe’s most remote areas included the Minister of Health and Child Care as guest of honor Dr. David Parirenyatwa, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland East Province Hon Mudarikwa, Deputy Minister for Environment, Water and Climate Hon Musanhu and UNICEF Country Representative Reza Hossaini.
Private partners in this six-year old initiative were also represented with Dettol and Unilever having held roadshows around the district in the week prior to the actual commemorations and taking school children through the steps of actual handwashing techniques on the day.
Hon Dr. Parirenyatwa commended the community initiative of the blair toilets that are being constructed in Chichetu Village with government’s help which dignitaries managed to visit on the day.
“We are very impressed with these kinds of initiatives and as government we pledge to take this project to all districts in the country, even all the way to Binga,” he said. Dr. Parirenyatwa pointed out that the most important aspect in this initiative is that of community participation.
“The builders constructing these blair toilets are from within the villages and all government has to do is provide the bags of cement thus the ownership of the project lies within the communities”, he said.
UNICEF Representative, Reza Hossaini reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to the health of the nation and children in particular. He talked of the work UNICEF was doing in fourteen towns in the country for health and sanitation purposes and how it has had a great impact on the livelihoods of communities.
“Our children are protected from a lot of diseases if communities commit to the use of safe sanitation methods,” he said.
The Global Handwashing Day was originally created for children and schools, but can by celebrated by anyone promoting handwashing with soap.
Each year on October 15, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world.