GHWD in Cross River State
Global Hand Washing Day (GHWD) is celebrated annually all over the world on 15th October. This year’s celebration held on 15th October 2016. The theme for the 2016 GHWD is “Make Handwashing a Habit.”
The day was celebrated by the Cross River State Ministry of Water Resources in Calabar with the support of the WSSSRP II Technical Assistance Team (TAT).
Global Handwashing Days have been celebrated in the past in CRS. The celebration has been carried out in various forms depending on the theme for that year’s event. Last year was a combination of policy discussions and grass root sensitization (communities and schools).
This year the approach of public engagement was slightly different from the recent past. The focus was shifted to the urban environment using Calabar city as the environment. In keeping with the objective of WSSSRP II project the Ministry of Water Resources, as the sector coordinator, decided to collaborate with a Federal Government Agency that has the capacity for effective awareness creation within the State. This is the National Orientation Agency (NOA). This collaboration brought together the technical expertise of the Small Towns Unit/Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWATSSA) in hygiene promotion and the community sensitization and awareness creation communication skills to ensure that the handwashing message was passed across to the public clearly and effectively.
The event was flagged-off from the premises of the Ministry of Water Resources and Water Board Limited (WBL) in Calabar by the commissioner for Water Resources, Ntumfam Gabriel Oji Odu, who was represented by the Managing Director of WBL. Key message from the state is that effective handwashing is essential so as to ensure improved health at home, office and schools. The State is already ensuring clean water supply in Calabar, however if people do not make handwashing a habit, the benefit of clean water in reducing water related infections will be defeated and the Government would have wasted millions of Naira. There were also messages from the University of Calabar presented by Professor Ernest of the department of Microbiology who explained the microbial perspective of hand hygiene. The NOA Director, spoke about the importance of awareness creation for behaviour change in people.
MD of WBL representing the Commissioner MWR, delivering message and demonstrate effective handwashing
The GHWD team made up of CRS MWR, NOA and RUWATSSA supported by CRS WSSSRP II TAT took the GHWD message to three locations in Calabar to sensitize members of the public on effective handwashing techniques and the need for making it a habit.
Three locations visited in Calabar are;
- Etim Edem Park: Public demonstration of effective handwashing and explanation of how to make handwashing a habit at home an at their places of work.
- Calabar Museum: Public demonstration of effective handwashing to the eateries in the museum. So members of the public who came in to eat and the restaurant owners were sensitized.
- West African People’s Institute and Hope Waddell Training Institute: Demonstration of effective handwashing to students who are strong change agents and passing the message of making handwashing a habit.
- GHWD Message Dissemination to the Wider Public To ensure the message of GHWD is disseminated widely and to reach a wider variation of audience in Calabar and beyond the CRS Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), Voice of Nigeria (VON) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) were at hand to cover the events in Calabar and disseminate through their various media.As an immediate outreach strategy and to ensure reinforcement of learning for more lasting impact, handbills showing the eight critical steps of effective handwashing, translated in 4 languages (English, Pidgin, Efik and Hausa) were distributed to members of the public to take away with them and make reference to.The Global handwashing celebration was a huge success. Through this event policy awareness and the awareness of the importance of making handwashing a habit was successfully carried out. Awareness of the members of the public was raised.