Schools present a unique opportunity to engage young children and imbibe in them good hygiene practices and the importance of hand-washing with soap. Aga Khan Foundation is partnering with Reckitt Benckiser under the Dettol Banega Swasth India Campaign, and is reaching out to 434,991 children in 3,000 schools in six states in India, in fun and engaging ways. Grade-appropriate curriculum, developed by RB on simple and basic themes of hygiene, are being used by school teachers to spread the message of good health and hygiene.
Recognizing that healthy hygiene practices, if initiated during childhood, are not only difficult to change but also influence a person’s future health, AKF is specifically focussing on teaching young children the importance of hand-washing with soap, especially before the school mid-day meals and after toilet use.
Adoption of these practices however, must be supported with a consistent and adequate supply of soap. Schools often face paucity of funds, especially to cater to a continuous supply of hygiene products, particularly soap. The existing funds for schools, are often earmarked for other activities, reducing the focus on consumables. All of which impacts the continuous supply of soaps in schools, and therefore affects regularization of handwashing with soap.
An innovative and yet simple intervention is the establishment of Soap Banks in schools to ensure a regular supply of soap. They are a collection-based model pioneered by AKF that addresses the existing gap of hygiene resources in schools by creating a repository of soaps through voluntary contributions from school children, their parents, teachers, and the wider community as a result of community dialogue and advocacy. The AKF has been working on piloting the concept of soap banks and, till date, 400+ banks...