WASH: UK foundation takes campaign to North East schools

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From Chinwendu Obioha

To enhance safe practices around Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) among students in North East schools, Jose Foundation UK, an independent child-centred not-for-profit organisation has commenced a sensitisation campaign targeting secondary schools in Borno State.

Jose Foundation UK in a statement yesterday signed by its president, Dr Martins Abhulimhen, said the foundation is committed to eradicating extreme poverty, advancing children’s rights, and ensuring girl child equality across the globe.

The statement noted that the foundation is currently implementing a global sensitisation aimed at creating awareness and ensuring safe practices around Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in a bid to address the global pandemic arising from COVID-19.

In Borno State, the organisation held the sensitisation programme at Muhammadu Buhari Academy, a mega boarding school in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) where students were sensitised on the symptoms of COVID-19 and the prevention measures to observe within and outside their learning environment.

The statement read:

‘The first phase of the global sensitisation campaign targets public schools to ensure children are aware of and equipped with the basic knowledge to protect themselves from the coronavirus and also carry out the basic WASH practices to stay safe.

‘The organisation observed that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, government-enforced closure of schools in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease.

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‘Schools in fragile contexts remain at particular risk of not re-opening or re-opening with inadequate sanitation facilities and psychosocial support for students. Studies have also shown that girls are less likely to return to school after a period of absence, especially girls in conflict-affected regions.

‘Even though the wave of the pandemic has reduced, and the government has relaxed the restrictions, an assessment conducted by the Jose Foundation UK programme team in the North East shows poor or non-adherence to basic COVID-19 prevention measures, especially within public schools.

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‘It is on this premise that the Foundation has not relented in its efforts to ensure that children, especially girls in North East Nigeria are supported with the necessary COVID-19 awareness and prevention and basic Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)s to ensure that they stay safe and protected within their learning environment.’

The foundation further stated that the sensitisation campaign seeks to address the poor prevention practices observed across some Government schools in conflict affected northeastern states of Borno and Yobe as regards to COVID-19 prevention and general Water, Sanitation and Hygiene practices.

The organisation had earlier conducted the COVID-19 sensitisation in Government Girls Secondary School, Damaturu, Yobe State.

The students were sensitised on the symptoms of COVID-19 and the prevention measures to observe within and outside their learning environment. The facilitator also trained the school girls on handwashing and safe use of latrines in their schools to prevent transmission of infections.

Jose Foundation UK team led by Ms Joy Otuonye donated facemasks, washing soaps, disinfectants and other PPEs to the school girls as well as to the school management.

The foundation hoped that through this sensitisation and distribution of these items to students and the school, the students and their teachers will be able to improve on their personal protection and hygiene.

In appreciation of the support to the school, headmistress, Muhammadu Buhari Academy, Maiduguri, Hajia Amina Mustapha Haruna, appreciated the leadership of Jose Foundation UK for selecting the school for the campaign.

She noted that the sensitisation was lifesaving and critical for the safety of the children and also noted that the items will also be used to strengthen the WASH practices in the school.

Jose Foundation UK said it will continue to prioritise the campaign, as well as support school systems especially in conflict, affected North East with WASH facilities to further improve access to safe and hygienic facilities .