- Group Handwashing with Soap before Mid-day Meals
A high level team consisting of the Axom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Mission, Govt. of Assam and UNICEF visited rural primary schools in Kamrup district, Assam, today to review the strategic intervention of Group Handwashing with Soap before mid-day meals.
As part of the DHaAL (Daily Handwashing for an Ailment-free Life ) - Fit for School project, team members had an opportunity to see the low-cost and high impact innovations demonstrating group handwashing with soap before mid-day meals. These are being implemented as a part of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools initiative.
“We visited Sajjanpara Lower Primary School under Rani Block and Dahali Lower Primary School under Rampur block in Kamrup district to review the progress of the WASH programme initiated two years ago. So far we have covered 100 schools and plan to scale it up to 320 more government schools,” said Dr.Tushar Rane, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam.
Mr. Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland was also part of the team. The company’s Corporate Social Responsibility wing ’Proplanet’ has been supporting WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in Schools programme of UNICEF since 2011 and has raised over 1.25 crore rupees towards the programme.
“UNICEF has been a strong partner to our sustainability initiative ‘ProPlanet’ and both of us have worked together over the last few years. We have nurtured a community of ProPlaneteers who are concerned about the environment and through them, we have touched the lives of many vulnerable communities,” said Mr Singh.
The corporate partnership has helped reach out to over 20,000 children across the country over the past three years and sets the way forward for similar corporate engagement initiatives supporting access to safe drinking water and sanitation for children in schools.
The delegation interacted with teachers, School Management Committees, students, mothers’ group during the field visit and were accompanied by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Assam team working under the WASH in Schools component of Child Friendly Schools and Systems Programme.
Interacting with the teachers, Mr. Murat Sahin, Global Advisor, WASH in Schools, UNICEF, New York, said, “ The visit to these schools show how integrating critical behaviours such as hand washing, into the world’s largest Mid-Day meals program can bring amazing results for children.”
Functional WASH infrastructures in schools have a far reaching impact, enabling children to internalize related behaviours and influence their families and communities to adopt hygienic practices. Moreover,diseases such as diarrhoea, intestinal worms and respiratory infections lead to school absenteeism, increased drop-out rates and impact on children’s physical and cognitive development as well as education attainment.
The visiting team also reviewed other key WASH in School interventions being implemented under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. These include three crucial components viz. availability of safe drinking water, good quality functional toilets for girls and boys, and handwashing.