|Mr. Awal Ahmed|
Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment (RISE-Ghana) with support from UNICEF-Ghana’s Communication for Development (C4D) section, has begun a project that seeks to promote a set of 12 positive behaviours.
The “Basket of 12 Behaviours,” as it is called, seeks to champion positive behaviour for improved health, education and child protection in the Garu-Tempane and Kasena-Nankana West Districts in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
Speaking at a training programme at Paga in the Kasena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, the Executive Director of RISE-Ghana, Awal Ahmed, said the project was being implemented in 40 communities in each of the two beneficiary districts.
The purpose of the workshop was among others, to train participants on how to construct a tippy tap; a simple hand washing device that can be constructed using cheap and locally available materials. It also sought to equip participants with knowledge that would enable them to implement the project successfully.
According to Mr. Ahmed, the role of hand washing with soap under running water in preventing diseases and the associated loss of lives and productivity, absenteeism in school as well as increase in the burden of caring for the sick on parents and girls could not be underestimated.
Quoting from a UNICEF report, he said hand washing with soap could prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia which accounted for 20 percent of the deaths of children under 5 years globally.
“The UN estimates that an additional 1.9 billion school days could be gained and the incidence of diarrhoea reduced if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are achieved.
“Our best bet is to strengthen WASH in schools and this is why we are particularly grateful to the Communication for Development section of UNICEF-Ghana and its partners for supporting this innovation to strengthen water and sanitation in schools committees to make our schools child friendly and safe”, he emphasised.
Under the Basket of 12 Behaviours, he said 80 communities are expected to benefit from behaviour change communication strategies that would deliver practical messages to bring about increased adoption of positive practices in the 12 areas.
|Children washing hands through tippy tap|
“With regards to these 12 positive practices, we are looking at exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, complementary feeding from six months, practice of hand washing with soap under running water, malaria prevention through sleeping under long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINS) and early enrolment and retention.
“The rest of the practices include the use of ORS to treat diarrhoea and reporting to the nearest health centre, open defecation free practice, birth registration before 6 months, increase knowledge leading to enhanced skilled delivery, change from corporal punishment to positive discipline, increased knowledge among mothers on routine immunization and stopping child early and forced marriages”, Mr. Ahmed mentioned.
To achieve these 12 practices, Mr. Ahmed also said a series of innovative and participatory activities were being implemented. “120 people drawn from various groups such as parent teacher associations, school management committees and school health teachers among others, have been trained and equipped with knowledge and skills to ensure that all schools have water, sanitation and hygiene facilities”.
He also added that, the groups had been taken through Ghana’s Child and Family Welfare Policy to enable them understand it and use it to save or protect children particularly young girls from abuse such as early and forced marriages.
Reverend Monica Achana, Kasena-Nankana West District SHEP Officer who participated in the workshop, commended UNICEF-Ghana and RISE-Ghana indicating that, “no effective teaching and learning can occur when children and teachers are not healthy. Instituting WASH in schools will help improve teaching and learning.
“I want to use this opportunity to implore all School Health Teachers and School Heads to ensure that they apply the knowledge acquired and install tippy taps in their respective schools to promote hand washing and hygiene,” she urged.
On his part, a School Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Akanwake Salam considered the workshop as very practical and useful to participants because it “opened their eyes” on the importance of hand washing.
“You know many of us do dry season gardening. When our children fall sick, they do not only miss school, we cannot work in our gardens because we also spend time to cater for them. This makes us poorer and often our wives and daughters are forced with extra work load. I am very happy with the demonstration on the tippy tap construction and will encourage my school to install this interesting hand washing device which is cheap and yet protects against germs”.