WASH Initiation Kolkata

According to UNICEF, the importance of sanitation cannot be emphasized upon enough. As per their website, it is mentioned that the “importance of hygienic behaviour, in particular hand-washing with soap at critical times: after defecating and before eating or preparing food…” is crucial. In fact, it has been noted that hand washing with soap, can significantly reduce the incidence of diarrhea (around 50%), the second leading cause of death amongst children under five years of age.

Therefore, when speaking about sanitation, it is important to understand what it is, and how may it reduce certain diseases, like pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin and eye infections, and diarrhea-related diseases, like cholera and dysentery. The only way to, therefore, increase awareness about sanitation is through motivation, spreading awareness and information about the importance of sanitation and improving one’s hygiene standards.

As someone living in Kolkata, where standards of hygiene are not maintained strictly, the incidences of hygiene-related problems, like diarrhea, cholera, and pneumonia, are some of the diseases that are heavily prevalent. Also, it may be noted that several diseases, like malaria and dengue, are indirectly caused by a lack of sanitation (as mosquitoes carrying these diseases often are found in areas where sanitation is a major issue).

So, cleanliness and better hygiene should be taught from a very young age, as well as taught to adults, to change their habits, in order to adhere to the sanitation guidelines that is delineated in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme, and ensure that our future generation is better equipped to deal with such diseases, and prevent them properly.

Therefore, TERI University and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in association with Coca-Cola and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), recently launched the ‘Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings” initiative in Kolkata. The WASH programmes aim to reach 50,000 beneficiaries in low income settlements and over 300 professionals, through WASH governance studies. It will also reach out to 2,500 students through 20 municipal schools across India in the near future.

This is a great initiation that will improve sanitation and hygiene in the lower strata of the society considerably, and it is a fantastic way of improving public health.

*Data about UNICEF collected from their website here.

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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