The workshops established a solid foundation for school leaders – school improvement officers (SIOs), teachers, committee members and handymen – to plan for, carry out and maintain behaviour change activities. Activities include group handwashing, establishing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) committees and student WASH clubs, and making low-cost WASH facility upgrades.
Water, safe water is simply the way of life.
Safe drinking water, clean hands before eating, and appropriate places to sit-sit are necessary to keep children healthy.
These things matter especially in schools, and especially for girls.
The Government said it is committed to keeping children healthy.
Water and Sanitation are included in Vanuatu’s Minimum Quality Standards for Primary Schools and in national policies.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is supporting the Government of Vanuatu with VT 274 million investment for WinS implementation in Penama Province (comprising Pentecost, Ambae and Maewo islands).
In Central Pentecost, for example, the quality of water is threatened by livestock activities (cows, pigs and dogs roaming free), old gravity-fed systems that are leaking and exposed to contamination from poor sanitation and varied rainfall limiting capacity to have safe water.
Sanitation and hygiene are also problematic with many toilets not functioning due to lack of water and little priority given to maintenance.
Adopting the WASH in Schools Three Star Approach, the workshops aim to provide contextualized guides for teachers, handymen and SIOs to work together to protect water resources and the environment, and to promote and include hygiene practices in schools.
31 women and 85 men (45 school principals, 23 handymen, 35 school committee members, and 13 area/community/health representatives) represented the 31 primary and 6 secondary schools during the four workshops throughout June (South Pentecost, Central Pentecost, North Pentecost and Maewo).
These schools have a combined student population of 5,894 students (3,054 boys and 2,840 girls) who will indirectly benefit from the workshop.
Photo supplied Caption: Schoolchildren at Lini Memorial Primary School