WASH Education Program in Uganda
In 2017, Rotary International conducted a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs assessment in the community of Merikit, Uganda. The subcounty of Merikit is a water scarce area in which many people have no access to safe water. During the wet season, residents use water from swamps and various pools of water that also serve local populations of animals. During the dry season, these water reserves quickly dry up, leaving only a handful of shallow wells and boreholes which only provide water intermittently. The assessment linked this scarcity of clean water, as well as poor sanitation, to the deterioration of health at all levels in the community.
In 2018, the Rotary Club of Kampala and the Tororo District’s local government brought forth a campaign to implement a WASH Education project in Merikit. In response to a project request from Rotary Club, The WASH Foundation gladly accepted the opportunity to improve health and wellbeing in Uganda and began working toward the start of the program.
On May 20th, this program launched in six schools and a healthcare facility in Uganda. The program, serving approximately 15,500 people in the Tororo district, uses a ‘train the trainers’ approach. We train educators and community leaders, and, in turn, they teach the children and families they serve. For a total of six days, 30 teachers, 5 healthcare facility staff, and 5 community health workers were trained on WASH. These educators and clinicians engaged in skits, self-assessments, group presentations and discussions, demonstrations, role-play, games, and songs that they can reproduce in their institutions to teach and advocate for healthy children and communities. Throughout the lessons, trainees provided relevant examples and experiences from their community. As a result, both the trainers and trainees obtained a greater understanding of Merikit parish in terms of WASH.
The trainings garnered ample support from local leaders, including district heads, council leaders, and the healthcare facility’s management team. District leaders had the opportunity to join classes and often had representatives attend the sessions. The immense support from the community and institution heads allowed for wonderful interactions and full engagement – attendance rate for sessions was an astounding 100%.
"There was a great yearning for WASH knowledge."
Participants were receptive to training materials and gave increasingly more effective practices to use outside of the trainings. The open communication put a spotlight on the true need for education on WASH and the active engagement highlighted the optimism of community leaders.
At the end of the week, participants were given the opportunity to provide feedback and criticisms on the trainings.
“Trainees all agreed that for change to occur, it would have to start with them [practicing] proper sanitation and hygiene habits on themselves and their households so that they teach by example.”
As the school year begins in Tororo, the trainees will become the trainers. School teachers, healthcare staff, and other community leaders will teach students, patients, and families the importance of clean water, proper sanitation, and good hygiene.
Stay tuned for more updates on this program and our other initiatives. For the full report on the trainings in Uganda, click button below:
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