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Myanmar: Promoting hygiene in rural areas

19-03-2003 News Release 03/29

From 21 January to 22 February the ICRC conducted a campaign to promote hygiene in rural areas in Kayin and Mon states.

Since UNICEF was already running a hygiene-promotion programme in schools, the campaign focused mainly on adults.

To begin with, the ICRC trained Myanmar Red Cross Society volunteers in the techniques required to assess hygiene practices in the villages concerned. The National Society then trained other volunteers, including villagers, in these techniques. Three simple messages were subsequently devised on the basis of the information gathered by the volunteers. The messages encouraged villagers to wash their hands with soap before meals and after going to the toilet, safely dispose of faeces, especially those of babies, young children and people with diarrhoea, and keep drinking water clean by treating it and storing it in such a way as to protect it from faecal contamination.

As no material promoting hygiene was available in the Kayin language, villagers were asked to submit posters, songs, poems, stories and games based on these three messages. Approximately 450 entries were received, mostly posters but also some songs, poems and stories. The posters were subsequently put on display and the songs, poems and stories presented by their authors. A number of games and competitions were also held in which villagers received prizes in the form of soap, potties, hand towels and so forth.

In all, some 250 volunteers took part in the campaign, which reached an estimated 2,800 villagers. The ICRC is currently monitoring its results and taking steps to ensure that the promotion of hygiene in these villages can be sustained.

 Further information: Eros Bosisio, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++ 41 22 730 21 01