As water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is treated as the core to health sector but there has been gaps covering in many parts of the country, In this context a National level WASH Mela was organized by Inter Agency Group (IAG) Odisha, in collaboration with Indian Red Cross Society Odisha State Branch, Water-Aid and Save the Children at University High School, Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar.
The main objective of the programme is to enhance knowledge on cleanliness and sanitation practice of hand washing with soap as well as to create the effective communicators who can create awareness on WASH Measures/ Issues among their parents, neighbors and communities. More than 500 School children and JRC Volunteers from 6 states including Jammu &Kashmir, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnatak and Odisha participated in the event. The said programme was held involving various key stakeholders from Govt., NGO’s, INGO’s, IAG Members, WASH experts, Academia, Govt. Officials and media personals etc.
The meeting was inaugurated by Dr. Chakradhar Panda & Chairperson, IAG Odisha& Honorary Secretary, IRCS-OSB, as the Chief Guest, and Ms. Bishakha Bhanja, State Head, Water-Aid, Mr. M.S. Khan, WASH Specialist, Save the Children, Ms. Sunetra Lala, WASH Specialist, Unicef, Sri. Animesh Prakash, Prog. Officer from Oxfam India and Mr. Gobind Ch. Mahunta Hony. Joint Secy. Of Red Cross were present as the guest of honor. During the inaugural session Dr. Panda expressed, briefly mentioned that many water and air borne diseases including diarrhea, cholera, malaria, typhoid, respiratory infections, skin and eye infections which are all likely to occur when water supplies and sanitation services are disrupted. These illnesses are primarily caused by lack of clean water and sanitation facilities and can be drastically reduced if hand washing with soap becomes an ingrained household-practice she added. By addressing the children he said WASH is the most inexpensive public health initiative we should follow this for a healthier and safer life.
During the session Ms. Bishakha Bhanja expressed that the time tested concept of involving children to observe, react and to sensitize their family and communities is commendable because what the children do is based on truthfulness and honesty, they can motivate their illiterate parents on proper water and sanitation measures. The process will not only inculcate in the children a spirit of fearlessness and truthfulness, but will also help them grow as responsible and concerned citizens. Sri. Animesh Prakash Programme officer of Oxfam India very lucidly described – about the benefits of hand washing and behavioral changes on WASH measures. He also explained the importance the event where children are taking lead role, by which they will attract public attention and inform a wider cross-section of the public he added.
By expressing Mr. M.S Khan briefly mentioned that many water and air borne diseases include diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, respiratory infections, skin and eye infections which are all likely to occur when water supplies and sanitation services are disrupted. These illnesses are primarily caused by lack of clean water and sanitation facilities and can be drastically reduced if hand washing with soap becomes an ingrained household-practice he added. Ms. Sunetra Lala said proper hand washing with soap can reduce diarrhea cases by almost half and acute respiratory illnesses by 30 percent. This simple habit can save our lives she suggested to every present participant. By highlighting about open defecation she said India contributes to 58 per cent of the world’s population defecating in the open, and also suggested the students to be the change maker to create awareness on Wash and to prevent open defecation During the Hand washing session, different techniques and merits and importance of hand wash is being taught to school children through teachers & WASH Specialist.
During the Hand washing session, different techniques and merits and importance of hand wash is being taught to school children through teachers & WASH Specialist. WASH related stalls were also opened by Indian Red Cross Society Odisha State Branch, Oxfam India, Save the Children, PJS, and Water Aid. Mr. Manoranjan Behera, IAG – Coordinator coordinated the meetingand also offered the vote of thanks on behalf or organizing team.