The WASH United Programme’s mission is to motivate and mobilize people in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world to improve hygienic practices. The campaign targets everyone and every sector because the importance of health and hygiene cuts across many issues, whether gender, HIV/AIDS, poverty, access to basic services, health and well-being, food production, etc.
Since its inception in January 2010, over 100,000 people within Sub-Saharan Africa from both rural and peri-urban areas have been touched by WASH United’s work. The WASH United campaign targets mainly children, women, and vulnerable communities. The WASH United Programme strives to:
During these advocacy and outreach campaigns, WASH United dispenses sanitary products to give participants a head start towards improving their personal hygiene and health. WASH United South Africa has committed itself to ensuring that boys and girls have clearly separate toilets, functioning taps, basins and pipes which deliver clean water; and with the support of school management to ensure the facilities are maintained and kept clean. WASH United is building partnerships with local and international organizations that donate resources, including sanitary products such soaps, pads, etc. to WASH United’s target areas.
WASH United South Africa - Braanfontein, Gauteng Province, South Africa
Both qualitative and quantitative research was undertaken to ascertain results from other research studies conducted locally and internationally to help determine the best course of action for our own implementation. We also conducted qualitative research through community meetings and workshops where communities highlighted their plight and greatest needs. These consultations gave the WASH United South Africa team a better perspective of the broader needs and resources required to address community concerns.
When the WASH United South Africa team undertook its qualitative research, participants were allowed to define their needs, challenges and possible solutions. WASH United used tried and tested participatory tools, including community mapping and SWOT analysis. (For more information on these techniques, see Chapter 3, Section 16: Geographic Information Systems: Tools for Community Mapping, and Chapter 3, Section 14: SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats on the Community Tool Box). WASH United needed to understand the extent of the challenges we faced, the capacity of community, and the resources available. We used this information to help galvanize local leadership and members of community to take charge of their own development and be active change agents in collaboration with local government.
The WASH United South Africa team has facilitated bi-monthly formal engagements to follow up on progress and give feedback. During these engagements members of communities present their progress and voice any additional requests they might have. The WASH United South Africa team also used the regular engagements to train selected members of community, e.g., community health promoters and workers, community development workers, local councilors, volunteering youth and members of community. These local teams assist the WASH United team with regular community liaisons.
The WASH United South Africa team has been conducting random visits where questionnaires are used to track progress and identify possible interventions if needed.
The WASH United Country Coordinator has used progress engagements, evaluations and evidence gathering to engage local government and other stakeholders to solicit support, collaboration and partnership. Many of the stakeholders have committed themselves to support and enhance work done by the WASH United South Africa team.
Over 100,000 people from different community settings regarded as vulnerable groups have benefited from WASH United campaigns. The tools and models we have used have facilitated life-saving behavior changes, such as more people washing their hands at critical times. Feedback from random surveys reveals that this change of behavior, attitude, and practice has reduced prevalence of children and other vulnerable members of communities frequenting health centers. Many of the female children interviewed indicate that having steady access to sanitary pads has brought dignity to their lives and they are happy to be afforded the opportunity to attend classes without discrimination from peers or other educators.
Communities are also grateful for having access to water that is closer to their homes, and several people are also using the water for other purposes such as gardening, which is set to improve their nutrition and wellness.
WASH United South Africa's Website: http://www.wash-united.org/