In places where Operation Mercy has an ongoing WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Project, child mortality rates are high due to the lack of knowledge about hygiene and disease prevention. Through WaSH, the communities learn about the importance of clean and safe water supply, good sanitation and other hygiene-related issues through roleplay, interactive learning methods and group discussions. This helps them understand the problems present in their communities and to identify solutions.
In the village of Etifaq, Azad* has seen the impact of the WaSH project: “We did not manage our hygiene well before we started the WaSH lessons. Our toilets were dirty and there was no water or soap. Now, our habits have changed, our toilets are clean and we have the right hygiene equipment.”
Azad’s family now washes their hands with the “tippy tap” that they learned how to make in Module One of WaSH, which now hangs near their toilet: “We learned that the ‘tippy tap’ has four benefits: washing our hands removes bacteria, using a ‘tippy tap’ saves water, it helps you save on soap and it helps keep the soap safe from rain and bacteria.”
Azad has shared the knowledge he learned at WaSh with others in his village, including one of his neighbours who had a child that was always ill with diarrhoea. When he learned that she was giving food to her child without washing her hands first, he taught her the importance of ensuring cleanliness, especially before or after doing certain things such as handling food or using the toilet.
Besides hygiene and sanitation, Azad also learned how to obtain clean water through solar water disinfection. Water is poured into plastic bottles and left in the sun for the UV rays to disinfect and make the water safe to drink. “Before attending the WaSH lessons, I kept water in plastic bottles,” he said. “But now, I understand that we must colour one side of the bottle black [to absorb sunlight] and keep it under the hot sun for several hours.” This technique, which is easy and accessible, is able to provide families with safe drinking water.