Haiti is highly susceptible to epidemics, particularly waterborne diseases due to the lack of infrastructure and access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. The country is struggling to recover from epidemics such as the cholera epidemic in 2011, which lasted nearly 8 years. Today the situation is complicated by the pandemic of COVID-19. Access to water is crucial to be able to fight it and apply barrier gestures especially in schools in Haiti.
On October 15, International Handwashing Day brings together young and old alike for awareness-raising, contests and activities reminding us of the importance of regular handwashing, particularly in the context of COVID-19. “Ann lave men ak dlo ak savon!”, translated as “You must wash your hands with soap and water”, the slogan resounds in the schools of Mirebalais and Belladère (Centre), Dame-Marie, Les Irois and Anse d’Hainault (Grand’Anse) in this month of October.
Since October 2020 and with the support of UNICEF, ACTED has been implementing the project “Water, Hygiene and Sanitation in schools” in 45 schools in the departments of Grand’Anse and Centre of Haiti in order to reinforce the knowledge and access to sanitary infrastructures for more than 12,600 children.
Faced with the risk of spreading the virus, hand washing remains the main barrier of protection, especially at key moments of the day: for example, before meals and cooking and after going to the bathroom or after contact with other people.
The school is a place where the spread of Covid-19 is more difficult to control, but it is also a good place to learn effective hygiene practices to fight it. Thus, children were particularly mobilized for the International Handwashing Day, to teach children good practices in a playful way, contests were organized. The children had to use the handwashing stations and points installed by ACTED and respect the nine different steps to ensure an efficient handwashing, all under the supervision of ACTED’s project team members, who then designated the winners, before proceeding to the prize-giving.
The strong mobilization of the students was matched only by that of the members of the Community Based Organizations who actively participated in the organization of sensitizations in small groups and in the distribution of flyers, soaps and water purification tablets.
In parallel, ACTED’s teams ensured large-scale sensitization through the dissemination of sensitization messages within the communes with the use of megaphones but also of cars equipped with loudspeakers.