The crucial role of water in social development, nature, and climate was at the center of this year’s Stockholm World Water Week with the theme: Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water. It officially opened on August 23 with online-only sessions, while on-site broadcasted sessions were held from August 28 to September 2. The conference serves as a venue to discuss the world’s most pressing water-related issues. This also includes improving WASH situation for all, particularly in the school setting, which was highlighted in the three sessions co-convened by the WinS Network and GIZ.
Beyond Words: Art, Music, Sport, Celebrity for Change in WASH was an online-only session last August 24 that discussed how art and sports were used to engage more people to address water, sanitation, and hygiene issues around the globe. Different movements all over the world that promote positive WASH behavior through unconventional communication approaches such as social arts, sports, jingles, and celebrities were featured in the session.
Among the initiatives included was the Philippines’ infection prevention control campaign led by the country’s Department of Education (DepEd) and supported by GIZ, through the Regional Fit for School program, and the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition. Presented by Dr. Maria Corazon Dumlao, Chief of the School Health Division, the Hands-Face-Space-Surface campaign aimed to mainstream relevant information about COVID-19 and promote health and hygiene habit formation among teachers and students to prevent the spread of the virus. Aside from educational videos, the campaign also used jingles or catchy songs and dance moves to reiterate important hygiene reminders.
She also stressed the use of social media as the platform for the campaign. Supported by an official memo from the national office, learners and teachers were asked to create their own videos using the jingle and dance steps to promote engagement. The social media campaign garnered 500+ video submissions from more than 300 schools, over 55,000 total views of the original video, and more than 500,000 views on all the submitted entries.
Other approaches highlighted during the session were the use of sports to raise awareness about WASH in Schools among other development policy goals, the power of storytelling as a social art performance to facilitate behavior change in India, and engaging social media influencers and celebrities to promote menstrual hygiene management in Nepal and Albania.
While in one of two on-site events, which was co-convened by the Hygiene and Behavior Change Coalition and GIZ, the Department of Education shared its work around institutionalization of WinS and COVID-19 infection prevention and control within the education sector, particularly within the pandemic context, through policy development, capacity building, monitoring system, and alignment of partners. The session aimed at highlighting the value of WASH towards responding to health and humanitarian crises, showcasing the power of working in a consortium, enabling breadth, coordination and scale of reach, explaining the model of public-private collaboration and leveraging complementary abilities of multiple stakeholders, and sharing best practice examples from pandemic response program, with a focus on hygiene behavior change, in a variety of contexts.
Finally, the latest WASH in Schools report from JMP, case studies on WinS implementation from Kenya, Malawi, and Philippines, and the role of private sectors to achieve WASH in Schools objectives constituted the agenda during the session WASH in Schools (WinS) – Linking Education, Health, and Gender held last August 31.
Dr. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General Global Health, Resilience, Equality of Opportunity, at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) opened the session by underlining the importance of providing universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene in schools and its strong linkage to education, health and gender equality, as well as the environment, good governance, sustainable financing and many other areas of concern within the development sector.
Representing the Department of Education once again, Dr. Dumlao presented the implementation of WinS in the Philippines and the different factors that contributed to the achievement of milestones and success of the program. With the issuance of DepEd Order No. 10 s.2016, or the Comprehensive Policy and Guidelines of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools, the department was able to roll-out the different WASH initiatives in the country.
“What gets monitored, gets done” according to Dr. Dumlao, emphasizing the importance of monitoring mechanisms and tools to continuously improve the schools’ performance. DepEd developed its online monitoring dashboard in 2021 to visualize the annual WinS data voluntarily submitted by schools and track compliance and progress towards national standards. Starting last year, this also serves as the source of data for JMP’s global report on WASH-related SDG indicators, which showed that the Philippines has made significant strides towards reaching the SDG targets. She also cited partnerships and incentive programs as other key factors to successfully implement the program. Finally, she attributed the program’s success to the department’s leadership, starting from the secretary down to school level, who can champion and advocate for equal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools.