School WASH Clubs: Launching water, sanitation and hygiene education across the Kilombero

Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools (SWASH) programmes are globally recognised as essential to promoting children’s right to health. An estimated 1.9 billion school days could be gained if we could secure safe water supply and sanitation for school children. School WASH forms a basis for education, awareness, self-reliance, management and leadership for children.  Such programs have been shown to positively impact on childhood behaviours  and by extension and influence on family WASH practices.

MSABI has developed a structured SWASH club-training package for Tanzanian schools.  We visited 9 schools over the course of 1.5 months.  With over 500 children in each school, this was no small task to keep them entertained and interested in WASH. 
This initiative involves the following:
1. Two teachers are trained from each school to take responsibility of WASH in their schools. This is already government policy, so teachers are willing but need resources and encouragement to do so. 

2. Train teachers with MSABI SWASH manual- a "how-to" guide for water treatment, hand washing with soap, safe access to water, disease recognition, looking after a latrine, where water comes from. Plus the added option of covering other topics such as environmental conservation, menstrual hygiene management for age appropriate children and some detail on dental hygiene. 

3. Teachers schedule the "launch day" in each of their schools, allowing time to set up the SWASH club and get ready to launch the programme in their respective schools. 

4. MSABI team implements the following schedule and activities for each SWASH Club launch day:
a. Drama sketch and song
b. Hand washing demonstration and competition with prizes- allowing fellow students to assess their peers and make hand washing with soap a game for all positively reinforcing the behavior
c. Q&A for hygiene product prizes- such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap
d. School SWASH club conduct a practiced performance (song, dance, drama performance etc.)
e. Dance competition with 10-15 school children
f. TEMBO filter pot demonstration and water is given to all students
g. We play a game of Tug of war with either the teachers versus MSABI, or separate year groups of students play against each other
h. Finally, we have a closing ceremony for the day where the chosen 15 SWASH club members receive their membership t-shirts, SWASH manual (a fun activity book to an 8-week programme on WASH) and a prize of soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush. This is great way to finish the day, make the other students in awe of the SWASH club and reward them for their hard work.

This launch day also includes speeches from guests of honour within the local community and other village leaders. It is also attended by on average 20-50 community members to enjoy the celebration and music.  To date on average 50 community members (mostly parents) attend such ceremonies. 
The MSABI Drama Team angry about diarrhoea and disease

The MSABI Drama Team demonstrating good hand washing with soap practices

Children at Magwa Primary School showing clean, soap washed hands

Mahelule Primary School children washing their hands for the hand washing game

Sanitation Field Officer, Benedict Mgubike, asking WASH related questions to the children at Kiberege Primary School

Kiberege Primary School SWASH club!

Teenagers at Mlabani Secondary School learning the importance of good hand washing with soap

Students at Mlabani Secondary School in the dance competition

The MSABI Drama Team demonstrating diarrhoea and stomach pains caused from bad WASH practices

Jongo Jamhuri Primary School children with our SWASH flags- all with messages for safe water, hygiene and sanitation

Idete Primary School SWASH Club giving a traditional music and dance performance

The SWASH Team (from right): Seleman (Drama), Brown (Education), Monica (Marketing), Benedict (Sanitation), Akitari (Drama), Aidari (Drama), Maselina (Drama) and Lauren (Monitoring and Evaluation). 

5. Baseline data has been collected from each school in terms of their current hardware facilities (school latrines, water points and hand washing options), and focus groups were conducted with students to assess their children's overall knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of water, sanitation and hygiene activities.  

6. With monitoring and evaluation we will aim to assess the impact of the programme on WASH knowledge and practices in the children. Visits will be undertaken one month and again after 3 months from SWASH club formation. This will include how well the students proceed through the prescribed manual activities and their knowledge of WASH.  MSABI will also compare their knowledge and behaviour and condition of water/sanitation assets compared to control schools with no SWASH club education programs.  

Results will be used to improve future SWASH interventions and to advocate for/against the replication and scale of such programs country wide.  In the future it is also possible to layer in new elements to SWASH clubs such as key environmental management messages. Or a tailored approach for primary school aged children and high school children, in reference to menstrual hygiene management and the greater details of knowledge seen about bacteria, viruses etc. that we have seen in high school children.

Hopefully with more funding, we'll be back to launch a new set of SWASH clubs across the Kilombero from June 2014!