To some, ‘Global Handwashing Day’ may seem like a trivial thing to be raising awareness for. However, in some parts of the world education, getting access clean water and other means of basic sanitation can be a big issue, and it isn’t because of a lack of trying.
In Tanzania, a large country that borders with Kenya on the east coast of Africa, a third of deaths in under-fives result from poor hygiene, with 20% caused by preventable diarrhea. Approximately 75% of Tanzanians live in rural communities with very few economic opportunities, and access to safe water and sanitation is rare.
In Autumn 2014, Raleigh volunteers had just begun an expedition in the village of Gongoni, Tanzania. The team found that Gongoni hadn’t had access to clean water for 3 years, after a borehole (a type of water well) collapsed, and couldn’t afford to build a replacement.
Although some locals were able to collect water from a neighboring town, it would cost them 500 Tanzanian Shillings for 20 litres and a five kilometre walk to collect it. Most had no choice but to use water from a nearby river, which was unsafe to drink from. Without clean water, everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, brushing teeth and washing become a health risk.
To tackle these issues, Raleigh’s volunteers worked with Gongoni’s locals to build long trenches as a part of a project that saw a gravity-fed water system installed. On top of this devices called ‘tippy-taps’ were built using recycled materials, which served as a simple, cost effective way of keeping hands clean. Hand washing with soap has been shown to reduce child mortality rates by up to 47%.
Working alongside the Global Handwashing Partnership, the Raleigh team also educated locals on the ‘8 steps of hand washing’ and diseases, how they spread and how quickly they can do so using presentations, activities and team-building exercises. Educating the community and its youth not only promotes good hygiene, but also ensures that the change brought about by volunteers is long lasting. Youth and women’s groups encourage discussion and local governance, while building projects maintain and improve access to clean water.
Gongoni is just one example of the change brought about by Raleigh and its partners working alongside communities. Raleigh continues to promote hygiene, school attendance, gender equality and environmental awareness throughout the country.
For more information on projects in Tanzania, please visit www.raleighinternational.org