The aim of this project is the sustainable improvement of schoolchildren's health through comprehensive hygiene training and by providing access to clean water and sanitary infrastructure in the schools.
The project is being implemented by Caritas Switzerland together with its long-time partner Caritas Harar (HCS) in 14 of 19 woredas (administrative districts) in the East Hararghe Zone. The project aims to reach eight to nine schools per woreda and a total of 120 primary schools, totalling some 69 225 pupils as direct beneficiaries. In addition, 300 teachers and local health officers are being trained as CHAST instructors. Through the spreading of the acquired knowledge, a total of approximately 410 000 residents of the communities in the project region will benefit indirectly from the measures.
The project compromises the following activities: by means of the CHAST approach, pupils and teachers from the 120 selected primary schools will be taught improved hygiene practice. In order to ensure the sustainability of this measure, from the beginning of the project, besides the teachers, some 240 health representatives of the communities will also be trained in the CHAST method. Continued training and regular monitoring will ensure that their knowledge remains up to date and that they implement the training in a proper way. The activities for the improvement of hygiene practice will be continued after the end of the project.
For an effective and sustainable implementation of the CHAST approach, it is essential that the schools have a basic water infrastructure and sanitary installations, without which many of the imparted hygiene aspects cannot be put into practice. Therefore, at the beginning of the project, a comprehensive assessment of the existing infrastructure for water and basic sanitation will be carried out at the schools envisaged for project implementation. In accordance with the preliminary assessment, improvements to, or the installation of toilet blocks and water facilities will be carried out at some 17 selected schools, which until now have had insufficient or no sanitary installations. Especially important are the gender-separated toilets and the installation of hand-washing facilities. The existing infrastructure will be integrated into the communicating of the CHAST approach, in which it will be directly explained and discussed. The link between good hygiene practice and the spread of disease will be a focal point of the training. Thus, the activities not only contribute to the fight against trachoma infection, but also address the general spread of diseases.
Furthermore, to complete the WASH activities the Blue School concept will be implemented at three selected schools. The Blue School approach includes, in addition to the above-mentioned hygiene topics, training for efficient and sustainable use of water for irrigation of agricultural crops, plus land management. In addition, in each of the three schools a vegetable garden will be laid out, which will not only improve food security but also sensibilise children to the importance of a balanced diet.