Ways to educate vulnerable groups on water sanitation
Millions of people all across the world lack access to clean water. In Africa and large parts of Asia, a lack of good quality water has become a crisis. Children suffer most of all, their young lives threatened by a continuing lack of access.
We have written previously about new and innovative ideas to supply purified water to the millions without it. Unfortunately, access is only half the battle. Another important concern is the lack of education for vulnerable groups about proper water sanitation. UNICEF and Water Aid have both made attempts to educate a wide cross-section of people about water sanitation. Countries with poor water supplies, like India and Ghana have been the focus of this effort.
School aged children have been at the centre of this strategy. Their curriculums can be adapted to include the importance of water sanitation, and it can be taught in schools. The children can take this new knowledge home with them and share it with their families.
UNICEF have made great strides in creating healthy and sanitised schools, where children have access to clean water and toilets:
“400 million school-aged children a year are infected by intestinal worms, which, research shows, sap their learning abilities. UNICEF and its partners focus resources on improving the health of school-aged children, highlighting the need for hygiene promotion, lifeskills development and water, sanitation and hand-washing facilities in schools.”
Other organisations out there, such as Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have put together a different kind of programme. Their approach involves the distribution of leaflets to affected areas, detailing simple methods of water sanitation. Printed in a variety of languages, these leaflets are a tremendous way of letting ordinary people, who often do not have access to computers get the information they need to help their families and wider communities.
Community Action groups are another essential component of the great education project. It is often better for aid workers and local leaders to show people firsthand what to do to prevent water contamination.
Is this doing any good?
It’s a very complex question, as some studies have shown that things aren’t going far enough, especially considering the size of the investment in such programmes. Efforts have been hindered by corruption in local governments, to the point where there have been numerous cases of lost donation money. Only a small amount ever reaches the local people.
On the other hand, there are growing signs that the efforts to educate people are producing better results. Thousands of remote villages in India are becoming centres for innovation and education. Men, women and children are expanding their knowledge and learning how to solve the problem of unsanitary water.
We would personally like to see more efforts put into educating people across the board, be it in large metropolises or tiny hamlets. It seems to be working.