Vanuatu Minister launches IEC promotional materials on water and hygiene

The main market house in Port Vila was packed yesterday with, not only market vendors but members of the public, to witness the official launch of the "WASH SECTOR" IEC materials.

The WASH Sector’s Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on “Water and Hygiene” were launched by the Minister for Lands, Geology, Mines and Water Resources, Ralph Regenvanu.

The materials were the result of efforts by Vanuatu IEC WASH Sector Working Group that is made up of most of the WASH agencies and government offices. The Working Group believed and developed key IEC messages with the endorsement and approval of the Vanuatu National Advisory Board (NAB) on climate change and disaster risk reduction and Public Health Promotion Unit, Ministry of Health.

The IEC materials are designed to strengthen community level awareness of safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices during peacetime and at emergency situations. They come in different forms from T-shirts, shopping bags, sarongs or lava-lava, hip-hop DVDs, note-books, posters, calendars, plastic water containers, stickers, t-towels and a website. They all carry very simple messages in Bislama on promotion of good hygiene and heath practices through the use of water and the reduction of health risks related to poor.

Before pronouncing the launch of the materials, Minister Regenvanu said Tropical Cyclone Pam last year gave us a wake-up call to encourage partnership rather than working independently in efforts to improve the health of communities.

“Education should be included in this program because children remember what they learn at an early stage,” he said.

Mr Regenvanu assured everyone that his ministry will continue to provide the necessary assistance to ensure help reaches communities through sanitation and hygiene programs.

UNICEF’s country coordinator, Andrew Parker said water is extremely important for everyone, as he spoke about the importance of caring for water.

“You lose water – everybody suffers, you lose water - you have conflicts, you have poor quality water – you have disease problems and the problem extents to others trying to solve it, you lose water – it burdens mothers and girls who tries to find water, you lose waster – crops die, you lose water – animals die, you lose water – people can die, so we all need to appreciate the value of water”, said Mr Parker.

He further explained that the idea is to get all those involve (the partners) to try and tell the same story and in a simple way for people to understand.

The IEC Materials are newly designed and are on Clothing, Paper and Digital Media. These powerful and attractive designs of the materials and the website were the efforts of Julie Saverwein from Little By Little Design and Hunter Sizemore from V Solutions. The Hip-Hop DVD by Young Confliction also portrayed a powerful message focusing on caring, usage and the health side of water.

The program comes under Vanuatu’s Water and Sanitation Sector Strengthening Project that is funded by the New Zealand Government through UNICEF. The Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (ADRA) is the implementing agency while the Department of Geology and Water Resources is the lead implementer along with its partners like the Ministry of Health and Education.

John Tasarei of the Health Promotion Unit commented the working partnership of different parties. He said this activity falls in line with the Health Ministry’s “CLEANING HOUSE” policy that was adopted after cyclone Pam to ensure health messages are relevant to our communities.

Mr Tasarei also emphasized the importance of primary health care concept in the community which aims at prevention rather cure of diseases.

The IEC materials are a component of a VT10 million project that includes the Malampa Water Inventory Program.

At the market house, the materials were distributed freely to representatives of communities around Efate. Similar distribution will be made to the outer islands. 


Harold Obed