UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
Transforming Behaviors through School Wash Clubs…
Zahid Hussein demonstrating how to wash hands with soap to a fellow student
Royal College of Science, Union Council 05, Phool Bagh, district Jacobabad is one of the many schools where bad sanitation has been taking a heavy toll on education. The deplorable hygiene condition of the school had exposed the students to contagious and parasitic diseases, affecting their education experience. In order to help the community, the Urban WASH project team decided to involve the school students as the torch bearers of improved hygiene. This method not only improved the hygiene condition but also brought forth the active, diligent, and enthusiastic individuals of the school who had the capacity to trigger change.
Formation of School WASH clubs has been the most effective method to engage the students of the school to learn about health and hygiene standards and eventually adopt better practices. The sense of ownership given to students prove to be the most important factor contributing to the success of the intervention in the school, making it a best practice which can be replicated in other schools of the district as well.
Zahid Hussein, a student of grade 6 in Royal College of Science, was famous amongst the teachers and students as one of the naughtiest and unkempt kids at school. Messy hair, no shower, unclean clothes and nails were the apparent attributes of Zahid. This appearance was coupled with no sense of keeping the surroundings clean as Zahid used to throw trash anywhere, dumped solid waste inside the classroom, did not wash hands before eating or after using toilet, leading not only to his own bad health, but also affecting the health of those around him. The project’s social mobilizing team identified
him while they were introducing their team to the teachers and students and decided to involve him in the school WASH club. This step initially took the entire school by surprise and many were sceptical about involving Zahid in the School WASH club. However, it induced a spirit of ownership in Zahid and he felt that it was now his duty to improve his school. This sense of responsibility initiated a change in Zahid’s personality that impressed everyone around him and soon he became the most liked kid at school.
When Zahid was asked to narrate how he became involved in the School WASH club, a look of pride took over his face and he commented that, “when the WASH team came to our school, I did not want to listen to them at first, but they were brought to the class for introduction and we were forced to pay attention. They started telling us about the worst things you can do to your hygiene and I realized I had almost all of them. It was when they told how badly it will affect our lives that I became not only scared but attentive. I never knew that silly things like dumping waste anywhere and not cleaning my hands will have a huge impact on my life. I could even get hepatitis, and worse, I could die. So I wanted to change, to improve not just myself but all those around me, it all just knocked sense into me.”
Zahid now regularly briefs the student about their roles and responsibilities about WASH club and awareness regarding personal, house, school, and environmental hygiene. He keeps his school neat and clean, drops solid waste in dustbins, washes hands with soap, and teaches his schools mates and community about the importance of health and hygiene. It has become his routine task to check school’s toilets that whether they are clean or not. Now, he not only looks smart and healthy but also gives more time to study and everybody, especially his class teachers and friends, like him very much. Zahid says, “Joining the School WASH club might seem like a very small gesture, but it has changed my life, and I will ensure that I help other students understand the importance of WASH as well.”
Copyright UN Habitat Pakistan 2019