School WASH - Effective Tool to Address Sanitation & Hygiene

4 Poster Track: Applied Research » 4 Health, safety and hygiene

Speaker: Blessy Merlin Oviya

Summary – for publication in conference brochure:

Children are key agents in behavioural change in the water, sanitation and hygiene(WASH)

sector. This poster presents the programme aimed introducing concepts of Fecal

Sludge Management(FSM) through WASH programs in schools in two Town Panchayats in

the Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu. Several children who participated in the programme

reside in near by slum communities, and the aim was to help children take up initiatives in

their own communities for activities like waste segregation, composting, and helping in

reduction of open defecation. The approach was to use cultural insights along with

environmental and social realities of the region.

Introduction, methods, results and discussion:

Brief introduction

The School WASH programme aimed at promoting hygiene, increasing access to quality

education, and supporting sustainable access to WASH facilities and physical infrastructure

by looking at children as agents of change. Conducted in two Town Panchayats,

Periyanaicken Palayam(PNP) and Narasimhanaicken Palayam(NNP), located in Coimbatore

district, Tamil Nadu, the programme covered five schools, where around 100 students from

nearby slum communities are students. The approach used cultural insights with

environmental and social realities of the region, to encourage children to take up initiatives

and spread awareness in their communities.

Methods and programme overview

Five out of 17 schools in PNP and NNP were selected to ensure a larger group from nearby

slum communities and have maximum participation of both boys and girls.

Two approaches were used- i) a hardware approach, aimed at ensuring safe and

sustainable sanitation facilities in schools by strengthening existing infrastructure like toilets,

wash basins and drinking water facilities; ii) software approach, using interactive classroom

and outdoor sessions to help students learn about WASH and FSM using games.

A total of 661 students from Class 6, 7 and 9 participated in the software programme, and all

2389 students from the schools benefitted from the hardware programme.




This programme began with repair work on a sanitary napkin incinerator in one school,

followed with fixing toilet seats, doors, and reparing breakage in containments. The school

was also provided with sunshades over handwashing stations and toilets. Some of these

were done with Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) collaborations, and the intervention

will be continued in other schools once they reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown.


This programme aimed at engaging children with integrated life skills education, focusing on

key messages about proper hygiene and sanitation facilities. Activities were held in three

sessions: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

All sessions were conducted over three days each, using interactive methods like picture

cards, interactive quizzes, infographics, and sound games.


● Water

This programme introduced children to the significance and sources of water, and explained

the concepts of water pollution and waste water. It concluded with interactive experiments

where children explored water chemistry to understand concepts like salinity and pH level.

The children were given a compact water testing kit and demonstrations on DIY purification

techniques (like boiling, solar disinfection, adding chlorine drops) that can be used at homes

for fetching or drinking water.


● Sanitation

This programme introduced children to ‘poop science’ and ‘poop calculation’, to help

understand the quantity of germs and parasites in even a small quantity of human feces.

This was done to reiterate how open defecation could lead to disease spreading.

Physical infrastructure of toilets and containments was also demonstrated, to understand the

engineering behind their functioning and what happens after flushing, including decanting,

treatment and reuse.

● Hygiene

Children were introduced to testing samples of handwashed water to help visibly understand

the consequences of not washing hands. The handwashing steps were elaborated using a

song, and children were introduced to toilet maintenance and etiquette.

Conclusions and implications:

Wider implications and discussion


● This initiative made WASH part of their academic learning, while also brought about

collaborations and network building with the education department and Government

Aided Schools.

● These messages can be made an integral part of the existing education system.

● Customised WASH and FSM material was disseminated for wider reach.

● Existing sanitation infrastructure was improved with refurbishment and repair of

toilets, incinerators and handwash facilities.

● Community interaction and rapport was also built between different slum

communities whose children participated and are engaged in slum interventions.

● Children were able to understand the significance of toilets and personal hygiene,

which is important if the predominant problem of open defecation is to be reduced.

Relevant references:


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