Thursday, August 16, 2012

WASH takes the spotlight at YUGA Camp

Introduction by Darren Saywell, Program Director
Water & Sanitation Hygiene/Community Led Total Sanitation (WASH/CLTS)

Throughout much of the developing world, the impact from the lack of appropriate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities are widespread on communities, resulting in one of the highest mortality and morbidity rates in children under the age of five.

The negative impact felt from the absence of WASH facilities can be easily understood by youth from all parts of the world; however, the youth can play a key role as advocates, facilitators of change, or even in supporting long term sustainable operation of WASH facilities.

This year Morgan and Lauren of the WASH team put together a workshop at Youth United for Global Action & Awareness (YUGA) Leadership camp. Read on to hear about their experience.

Story by Morgan Nelligan, Junior Associate
Water & Sanitation Hygiene/Community Led Total Sanitation (WASH/CLTS)

Presenting WASH to the campers at YUGA camp this year was such a privilege. Though it was the end of the week and everyone was tired, the youth were really engaged throughout the entire workshop. We were surprised by how eager everyone was to participate in the activities, share their experiences and ask questions about what they could do to make a difference.

During the first session we had the youth participate in an activity which demonstrated how easily germs are spread. Some of the kids put oil on their hands while the rest put coffee on their hands. They ran around and “introduced” themselves to as many others they could. The kids were really intrigued by how in just one minute, everyone had coffee on their hands. We split up the group so that half of the group washed their hands with just water, while the other group washed with soap. Once again this was a great way to visually understand the importance of using soap while one’s washing hands.

Another activity demonstrated how grueling retrieving water can be in a developing country. A small group was tasked with fetching water from a nearby pond in jerrycans. A full jerrycan typically weighs about 40lbs, so when the youth came back they were visibly tired although they were carrying partially filled jerrycans. This was important for the other youth to see when they returned and really drove home the reality of what it means for youth in a developing country to fetch water. The international campers at YUGA were able to add personal stories about fetching water before school and comment on the difficulty of the task.

The next session was designed to quiz the kids on how well they understand the WASH sector. The responses to the quiz questions not only gave a great indication of the understanding (or lack thereof), but got the youth engaged and asking questions. Some of the statistics are overwhelming, especially to those who do not realize how much of a commodity water is for the majority of the world, and immediately sparked questions such as “What can we do?” and “If there are fairly simple solutions, why are so many people suffering?” Such simple yet relevant questions!

A popular theme throughout the workshop was advocacy. The youth were incredibly eager to discuss how they could utilize social media and other methods to raise awareness and call their communities to action. YUGA gave us the opportunity to inform the younger population about development issues and the injustice of the lack of such basic necessities. It certainly gave WASH the necessary attention it deserves.

1 comment:

  1. this workshop was extremely informative and gave me alot of ideas to bring back to our YUGA chapter at my school!!