Gam Combined School Wins Competition On Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

The Gam Combined School in the Tsumkwe Constituency of the Otjozondjupa Region are winners of the Inter-School Competition on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

The competition was launched this June among the 48 schools renovated and upgraded by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) in 10 regions. WASH interventions supported by the MCA-N are aimed at improving the overall hygiene of learners from Grade 1 to 10. Hygiene and Sanitation Clubs were revived and new ones started at schools where there were none.

A number of awareness initiatives were launched and broadcast on radio and television. One such initiative is the WASH @ Young amp Cool programme that is aimed at encouraging young people to take charge of their own hygiene. This relates to knowing the importance of washing hands at critical times. The Gam Combined School walked away with gold medals, WASH equipment to the value of N$3300 and sling bags for WASH club members during a prize-giving ceremony held in Otjiwarongo last Thursday. The Iipopo Combined School (Oshikoto Region) came second and received silver medals, WASH equipment to the value of N$2200 and sling bags for WASH club members, while third-placed Shikudule Combined School (Ohangwena Region) collected bronze medals, sling bags for club members and WASH equipment valued at N$1100.

Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony MCA-N Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Penny Akwenye says the WASH Project has ensured access for pupils to safe drinking water, toilets and hand washing facilities as well as related information and skills. She adds that these initiatives were aimed at cultivating appropriate hygiene behaviours that protect against water-borne or sanitation related diseases, including worm infestation and she urged the Ministry of Education to take this initiative further to all 1732 schools in Namibia.

“The Government of Namibia has given priority to water and sanitation as a way of tackling poverty through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the 3rd amp 4th National Development Plans as well as Vision 2030. This has further been supported through the development of a National Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Strategy and Plan. The goal of the WASH in Schools Project is to promote good

health and hygiene practices in schools in order to create a positive environment for behavioural change, particularly by learners and school staff in government primary and combined schools,” Akwenye emphasises.

Education Permanent Secretary, Alfred Ilukena, in remarks read on his behalf by Otjozondjupa Regional Education Director, Faustina Caley, says the government will continue to work with its partners to ensure that all schools have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities. “We will scale up interventions aimed at changing behaviours through training of school officials and the practical demonstration of behaviour change of learners in schools. We will increasingly ensure that resources are allocated to WASH related activities in order to protect the rights of our children,”says the PS.

Otjozondjupa Regional Governor, Samuel Nuuyoma, in remarks read on his behalf by Okahandja Constituency Councillor, Steve Biko Boois, pays tribute to MCA-N’s role in promoting the WASH initiative saying thousands of learners now have improved access to clean drinking water at school and can also take a bottle of clean water home. “Through practical knowledge that WASH club members experience at school, they bring home good examples of how to store water safely and wash their hands at appropriate times which also benefits all their family members, ” says the Governor.

A Grade 8 learner from the winning school, Nashipe Fillipus, commended MCA-N for spearheading the WASH programme. “We will work on improving our WASH Club using the equipment given to us by MCA Namibia today,” says the vibrant learner.

MCA-N is implementing development activities in the country’s education, agriculture and tourism sectors financed by the United States government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to the value of US$ 304.5 million (N$ 3 billion) with the aim of reducing poverty through economic growth. Forty-six percent (46%) of this amount , US$ 141.4 million, about N$1515 million is budgeted for activities in the Namibian education sector.

Source : New Era