Global Handwashing Day in Niger: Better hygiene to reduce the spread of disease
Oxfam in Niger celebrated the Global Handwashing Day for the first time by distributing soap and handwashing points in a Niamey school where Oxfam previously assisted displaced flood victims, and where the children have finally gone back to school.
Now that classes have started again, washing hands regularly is an important lesson for the children that can help them avoid getting sick.
The day was marked by visits from the Nigerien education authorities as well as a national television station and surrounding schools. Cheered by their peers, the children gave demonstrations on why handwashing is important and how to use the handwashing points, consisting of buckets and a tap, and soap holder, all to be placed strategically throughout the school facilities.
Handwashing saves lives
Niger counts a high level of child morbidity, and is unfortunately all too familiar with cholera, diarrhea and infections facilitated by droughts and floods, as well as a lack of hygiene among the poorest, where clean water and soap may not always be available.
Handwashing with soap can reduce diarrhea morbidity by 44%, as well as the transmission of respiratory tract, skin and eye infections.
Oxfam aims to prevent the spread of diarrheal diseases through the promotion of handwashing with soap, which it does by providing vulnerable communities with soap, water points, and hygiene promotion.
Oxfam believes everyone including the most marginalized have a right to safe water and sanitation as a basic essential service, and advocates for development of pro-poor policies that eliminate inequality that underlie the water management policies that exacerbate water scarcity.
Photos: Floods in Niger (september 2012)