Talk dirty: 12 things you probably don’t know about hygiene

July 26, 2014

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For students who are not taught proper hygiene at home, health education can greatly influence their lives. In many countries, comprehensive hygiene education is government-mandated. In Bangladesh, it is not. BRAC’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme works in schools to compensate for this.

It’s time to WASH up!

1. You wash your hands before you eat, because the government told you to.

  • For students who are not taught proper hygiene at home, health education can greatly influence their lives. In many countries, comprehensive hygiene education is government-mandated. In Bangladesh, it is not. BRAC’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme works in schools to compensate for this.
Students of a secondary school now enjoy sanitary latrines and better health education due to BRAC WASH’s intervention.

Students of a secondary school now enjoy sanitary latrines and better health education
due to BRAC WASH’s intervention.

2. If you can do your business in private, you’re better off than 1.1 billion people in the world.

  • According to the UN, 1.1 billion people defecate in the open and 2.5 billion people do not have proper sanitation. BRAC WASH aims to improve these conditions for the poor.

3. Access to WASH technology is highly dependent on demographics.

  • In light of this, BRAC develops different approaches depending on gender, geography and socioeconomic group.
Field officer demonstrates the effect of hand washing in a cluster meeting for women

Field officer demonstrates the effect of hand washing in a cluster meeting for women

4. School attendance rates depend on the availability of clean, private toilets for girls.

  • Girls in secondary school often stay home during their monthly menstruation if their school lacks private, sanitary bathrooms. BRAC WASH’s work in secondary schools leads to dramatic increases in girls’ attendance rates.

5. Children are the best catalysts for changing community hygiene.

  • Based on 40 years of experience, BRAC knows that the best way to spread a message is to educate children. This is why BRAC WASH holds bimonthly meetings with children in local communities.
Little boy flashes a smile while his mother listens to the field officer at the cluster meeting

Little boy flashes a smile while his mother listens to the field officer at the cluster meeting

6. Good hygiene does not have to be expensive.

  • You don’t need a brand new latrine to make it sanitary. Simply adding a water seal can change an unhygienic latrine into one that is safe to use.
A client stands in front of the latrine that she was able to build with the help of a loan from BRAC.

A client stands in front of the latrine that she was able to build with the help of a loan from BRAC.

7. Sometimes, however, the only way you can stay healthy and clean is by investing in costly structures.

  • Villages in areas that are water-scarce, arsenic-prone, or contaminated by saltwater require more expensive facilities to manage these challenges. BRAC WASH compensates communities for a portion of these costs.

8. Serving others and ensuring good hygiene can be profitable.

  • Business owners partner with BRAC WASH to establish rural sanitation centres. They make money by selling sanitation materials to local communities.

9. Good hygiene can be entertaining, too.

  • BRAC WASH engages local actors and singers in creating popular theatre and music that is both entertaining and educational.

10. Two pits are better than one.

  • If a latrine’s pitis full, it cannot be used until emptied. In two-pit latrines, one pit is available at a time. When one pit fills up, new waste is directed to the other. By the time the second pit is full, faecal matter in the first pit is dry, odourless and may be used as fertiliser.
A latrine pit not currently in use. When the other pit fills, waste will be directed to this pit.

A latrine pit not currently in use. When the other pit fills, waste will be directed to this pit.

11. The most powerful way to improve community health is to increase women’s access to sanitation resources.

  • Women act as gatekeepers for their family members. Having a latrine near a woman’s home increases security and helps ensure access for everyone.

12. The most cost-effective way to improve sanitation is to influence men’s financial decisions.

  • Men often control family’s finances, so BRAC WASH educates men about the importance of good hygiene so they are more likely to spend money on their family’s health.
While taking a short break from work in the afternoon, men attend a BRAC WASH tea stall meeting.

While taking a short break from work in the afternoon, men attend a BRAC WASH tea stall meeting.

 

Gabrielle Field is an intern with the BRAC Summer Exposure Programme.

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