The SWASH (School Water Sanitation & Hygiene) project in Mvungurumo, Kongwa is now entering its final stage of delivery by Raleigh volunteers. In addition to working hard to complete the toilet and sanitation facilities, Raleigh volunteers are continuing with village activities and school lessons designed to raise awareness of SWASH issues. In what is perhaps the most important aspect of this final stage, significant time and efforts are also being put into ensuring the sustainability of this project through training and stakeholder engagement regarding the long term maintenance and care of the facilities. It is vital that stakeholders feel a real sense of ownership and stewardship of their new facilities and are well equipped to deal with any management and maintenance challenges that may arise. Here we focus on the how the SWASH club will play an important role in the future of the hygiene practices, health and education of the community in Mvungurumo.
Raleigh volunteer Tom describes his experience of working with the SWASH club:
A chorus fills the school classroom with young, enthused voices; the sound of a SWASH club session in Mvungurumo.
The SWASH club is a group of students aged 10-14 who have volunteered themselves as leaders on SWASH. They promote Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) values to their peers in a positive and accessible way. The students create a friendly atmosphere and work towards community goals together, in a similar way to how Raleigh volunteers do. The SWASH club in Mvungurumo was established in March 2018 and since then SWASH club members have been trained and supported by Raleigh volunteers in how to take the lead themselves on raising WASH awareness in their school and community. The focus now is to ensure that the SWASH club is well positioned to continue this work after Raleigh volunteers have left the village. A significant part of this is ensuring that all SWASH club members have good knowledge of the new sanitation facilities and that they know who to go to in order to raise any concerns or report any maintenance issues in the future.
Being an active member of the SWASH club helps to develop the young student’s leaderships skills. The club members become role models for others through their ability to demonstrate good WASH behaviours themselves, but also because they will show others how to do the same. This is particularly important for the girls in the school as positions of leadership are less commonly held by females. Joyce, one of the SWASH club members in Mvungurumo said, “I have a larger role in my community now because of my involvement in SWASH club.”
Joyce and her peers will play an important role in ensuring the sustainability of this project and in training new, young SWASH club members in years to come.
Words by volunteer Tom Clements. Edited by Communications Officer Lou McGowan.