In Cameroon, “school brigades” formed to promote hygiene in schools
For the past two years, Première Urgence Internationale has been carrying out awareness-raising activities on water, hygiene and sanitation in 11 schools in Cameroon. In 2018 and 2019, 7,740 children and 180 teachers and parents benefited from awareness-raising programmes in newly equipped and sanitised schools.
© Première Urgence Internationale — 2019.
In Cameroon, access to water and hygiene is still a recurring problem. Not all schools in the country are equipped with the tools necessary for effective sanitation and permanent access to water.
Première Urgence Internationale’s objective was therefore to support the departmental and district delegations of the Ministry of Education in training, strengthening the capacity of these schools and supplying them with dedicated equipment and materials to provide a healthy environment for both children and supervisors. As part of a multisectoral project carried out in consortium with other NGOs (AAH, CARE, The French Red Cross, Solidarités International), Première Urgence Internationale has formed school brigades for the promotion of hygiene, school health and community health.
State of play and awareness-raising
A total of 11 schools were targeted by the project in three municipalities in the Far North of Cameroon (Modzogo, Kousseri and Mokolo). The Première Urgence Internationale teams first made a summary diagnosis of the state of play in terms of access to water, hygiene practices and sanitation. This identified shortcomings, such as limited access to safe drinking water, poor environmental hygiene, and lack of improved latrines.
To raise awareness of the importance of using and consuming good water quality and good practices in terms of hygiene and sanitation, the Première Urgence Internationale teams took advantage of 12 World Days in 2018 and 2019, to organise workshops on topics such as hand washing with clean water and soap, construction and proper use of toilets and drinking water networks. These workshops were held in schools, but also in public places with traditional leaders and some competent authorities, thus increasing awareness among the population of these rural areas. Practical demonstrations and Q&As have enabled a decent appropriation of good practices among 7,740 students who will be vehicles for these practices in their communities.
Training for teachers and parents
In schools, school leaders were invited to set up “school brigades” in their schools in order to facilitate and, above all, to sustain these awareness-raising activities. Teachers and members of parents’ associations were trained in modules, including the transmission of water-borne diseases and good practices in hygiene and sanitation.
The training was attended by 180 people, including 90 school brigade members, 51 teachers, 8 principals, 13 inspectors and 18 parents of students.
11 action plans were also developed in a participatory manner with school brigades. The objective is to implement activities ranging from cleaning classrooms and playground, to raising awareness about the use of sustainable latrines.
Work and construction of infrastructure
For each school, Première Urgence Internationale teams built ventilated improved pit latrines, and distributed hygiene kits and awareness kits alongside the above actions. Always with the aim of reaching as many people as possible, awareness within the communities has been undertaken, as well as raising awareness of “Child to Child”, i.e. child to child learning with well-adapted communication tools.
Première Urgence Internationale noticed several positive observations and behavioural changes during the 2019/2020 school year, which shows great prospect. “The activities carried out in our district and particularly in these pilot schools have been a great relief. Future interventions will fully include the teaching staff of our institutions”, according to the District Inspector, Mayo Moskota.
A good start for these school-based activities, which could be extended to other schools in North Cameroon, with emphasis on strengthening the capacity of teaching staff, and essential monitoring for long-term positive results.
All of these activities are implemented with financial support of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.