World Hand Washing Day was observed on October 15, 2010 in a region known for its high population density and high population growth, one of the highest in the world at more than 6% annually. The Chadakori Area Development Program, which hosted the World Hand Washing Day ceremony, covers a population of 44,881. The departments represented at this ceremony were: Primary Education, District Health, Water Services along with the schoolteachers, students, parents, and various youth groups and women’s associations of Chadakori and vicinity.
The ceremony began with a welcome from the District Supervisor who expressed his appreciation for the work of World Vision. This was followed by an educational skit performed by the Community Mobilization Team on the topic of hand washing: 1) before and after meals, 2) after using the toilet, and 3) after changing a baby. The skit depicted a family who practices good hygiene, beginning with the woman of the house bringing soap for the family to wash their hands before touching food.
Just as the head of the house prepares to eat, along comes his friend and travel companion who goes straight to the kettle and uses soap to wash his hands, a gesture appreciated by the head of the family.
The two friends, having both washed up, sit down to eat. Just then another friend arrives from the field who starts to rush directly to the food, but the other two manage to restrain him and request that he first wash his hands. The audience was delighted with the skit’s message and the professional skill of the actors.
The skit gave way to the manager of the Niger Rural Water Project, who represented World Vision at this ceremony. He reinforced the importance that World Vision gives to the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors in order to achieve the Millenium Development Goals, as well as World Vision’s desire to work with Niger to combat poverty. He said that over the next five years, World Vision planned to drill approximately 650 new wells equipped with hand pumps, install 10 piped water systems, build 150 school latrines, and 3,000 family latrines.
Finally, the Prefect of the town of Guidan Roumdji acknowledged the efforts of World Vision in Niger, emphasizing that these were in full alignment with the development priorities of the Niger government. He noted that water, sanitation and hygiene interventions played a primary role in disease reduction and prevention. It was for this reason, he said, that the entire international community had mobilized around this sector, to improve the potable water supply, basic sanitation infrastructure and good hygiene practices.
He added that the World Hand Washing Day, established in 2008 by the UN General Assembly, was a useful tool for promoting this simple and low-cost way to reduce the number of child deaths due to diarrhea by half, and the number of deaths associated with acute respiratory infections by one quarter.
The ceremony ended with a demonstration of proper hand washing with soap, and the gift of 30 hand washing kits to the schools in Chadakori, the first of their kind to be introduced in the region. They will allow for the training of several thousand children on proper hand washing methods.