Early 2013, OVSA’s Grade 8 & 10 Life Skills Projects were modified and an additional emphasis was put on the inclusion of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) principles. Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is a basic human right that is often forgotten, but nonetheless plays a very important role in people’s present and future lives. With the help of OVSA’s partner, Oxfam, attention and funds are focused on sanitation and hygiene in schools, in order to reduce transmission of water-related diseases and implement hygiene and health education with all learners. Young learners are key agents of change because they can influence their parents and pears, and lead on critical issues by example. When they learn sanitation-related behaviours; such as hand washing etiquette, they can share this with their families and communities. Adequate water supply, sanitation facilities and good hygiene practices are of the utmost importance in preventing infections and reducing the spread of diarrhoea and skin diseases. They also enable HIV-infected people to stay healthy longer and help those with AIDS to be protected against further infections.

WASH Advocacy Projects were recently launched in two pilot schools in KwaZulu-Natal, at Dloko and Isifisusethu High School. Learners and OVSA facilitators completed a mapping survey to gain insight on the most pressing WASH-related issues in these schools, so that they could be prioritised and addressed. Both schools required new infrastructure so as to support better hygiene and sanitation practices among the learners. OVSA provided both schools with a number of new wash basins and sanitary bin disposal units. In order for the school to implement water saving measures, push taps were also provided.

If success is achieved in these two pilot schools, OVSA will wish to roll out the WASH-programme to the other schools in KwaZulu-Natal, and give more young learners the opportunity to safeguard a healthy future.