The Tanzanian schoolboy who is a pioneer for handwashing

An estimated 272m school days are missed every year around the year due to diarrhoea. Goodluck, a student in rural Tanzania, is trying to tackle this in his own school and community by becoming an advocate for handwashing

In rural Tanzania, 48 per cent of people have access to clean drinking water. In schools, there is often only one toilet for more than 200 pupils and very few have functioning handwashing facilities. Poor sanitation means children fall ill, which can be expensive for families to treat and also means they miss out on schooling. It’s a problem around the world: according to the Global Handwashing Partnership, 272m school days are missed every year due to diarrhoea.


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Volunteers from sustainable development charity Raleigh International have been working with people in rural Tanzania to take action on the issue. They have established student-led school water and sanitation clubs – also known as SWASH clubs. In the village of Peluhanda, 14-year-old Goodluck is the chairman of his school’s SWASH club: a group of 20 pupils who advocate for improved water sanitation practices in their school and elsewhere in the community.

Goodluck said: “In the morning before school I fill all the tippy taps [a handwashing device] and make sure that they have water and soap. I bring out the buckets for the school cleaners and make sure that the toilets are clean. Some of the younger children don’t know how to use the tippy taps and wash their hands, so we show them so they understand.

Some of the younger children don’t know how to use the tippy taps and wash their hands, so we show them so they understand

“We learned that everyone must wash their hands, that you have to use clean water and soap to remove all the bacteria that causes diseases. If you don’t wash your hands then it gets in your stomach and makes you unwell.”

The aim is for the work to have a ripple effect across the community. Goodluck has built his own ‘tippy tap’ at home and taught his neighbours about the importance of good sanitation.

His stepfather, Geoffrey, said: “These sessions have spread around in the families in the community so now everyone is knowing about these issues. Our children can now spend time in school rather than spending time treating themselves in the hospital for diseases.”

Our children can now spend time in school rather than spending time treating themselves in the hospital for diseases

Handwashing is considered one of the most effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and on Global Handwashing Day which takes place on Sunday (15 October), young people like Goodluck will emphasise its importance.

“I want to be a doctor because I like to care for people,” said Goodluck. “I look after other students and help them in the class. It’s why I tell them to wash their hands, because if they don’t they will have stomach problems.”

 


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