663 million people around the world live without a clean water supply close to their home – as a result, many have to cope with the difficult health implications that come with drinking contaminated water.
March 22nd is World Water Day – a day to advocate for the sustainable use of the world’s water – and thankfully young people are joining forces to tackle this problem.
In Tanzania, Raleigh International volunteers have been supporting school students as they harness their passion to combat water and sanitation issues and create lasting change in their communities.
The impact of poor sanitation and hygiene can be widely felt in communities like Peluhanda, Tanzania. Children often go to hospital after eating unwashed fruits or drinking unclean water. Treating illness is expensive for families, and children often miss out on key educational opportunities when spending time in hospital.
Raleigh volunteers have been working with local communities to establish school water and sanitation clubs – also known as SWASH clubs. In Peluhanda, the local SWASH club consists of 20 pupils who advocate for improved water sanitation practices in their school and wider community.
Goodluck, 14, is the chairman of his school’s SWASH club. He said: “As a member of the SWASH club, in the morning before school I fill all the tippy taps – a handwashing device – and make sure that they have water and soap. I bring out the buckets for the school cleaners and make sure that the toilets are clean. Some of the younger children don’t know how to use the tippy taps and wash their hands, so we show them so they understand.”
“We learned that everyone must wash their hands and that you have to use clean water and soap to remove all the bacteria that causes diseases. If you don’t wash your hands then it gets in your stomach and makes you unwell.”
The SWASH club does not just benefit pupils in the school, but their work has a ripple effect across the community. Goodluck built his own tippy tap at home and taught his neighbours about the importance of good sanitation.
Goodluck’s stepfather, Geoffrey said: “These sessions have spread around in the families in the community so now everyone knows about these issues. They support the messaging about sanitation and hygiene. Our children can now spend time on development activities in school rather than spending time treating themselves in the hospital for diseases.”
Young active citizens like Goodluck are improving water and sanitation in rural Tanzania and creating sustainable behavioural change which will have a lasting impact.
Goodluck said, “I want to be a doctor because I like to care for people. Maybe looking at bones because I understand a lot about the skeleton when we study it in class. I look after other students and help them in the class. It’s why I tell them to wash their hands, because if they don’t they will have stomach problems.”
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