Dubai Cares drives child-led behavioral change in Mali to ensure school cleanliness

WAM DUBAI, 22nd July, 2013 (WAM) — As part of a long term project, Dubai Cares is running a Wash-in-Schools programme in the West African country of Mali with the objective of improving children’s access to quality primary education.

Dubai Cares’ intervention includes a multi-partner, four-year programme being implemented by Unicef, Save the Children, Care, Oxfam GB and WaterAid, and one of the project’s ongoing programmes is the “Children’s Government”, initiated so that students become actively involved in the changes taking place at the school under the Dubai Cares’ WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene facilities) in Schools programme. Along with representing the student body, the Children Government Ministers are expected to show practical leadership in the new responsibilities instigated under the programme. This leadership is centered around mobilising other children and organising them in a manner that maintains a good standard of hygiene at the school.

Nematou Malle is the Minister’s name and she is 12. Nematou is a proud member of the Children’s Government recently started at N’tjibougou school in southern Mali along with five other classmates. She describes her portfolio saying, “I have been elected Minister of Cleanliness and my job is to keep all students in good health, see that they drink clean water, that they come to school clean and that the school latrines and courtyard are clean.” Nematou’s brush represents one part of a hygiene kit provided to the school under the Dubai Cares initiative. Other items are buckets and gloves, face masks to protect against the dust, soap and bleach, everything needed for thorough cleanliness to be maintained at the water pump and in the latrines with the hand washing stations.

Using the new latrines properly and keeping a good standard of cleanliness there and at the well when collecting drinking water for the classrooms, sweeping the compound regularly and removing the rubbish, washing their hands with soap after latrine use and before eating, keeping their clothes neat and clean – the precise remit which Nematou has as a Minister – all represent the crucial practical proof that the WASH in Schools program can successfully impact behavioral change.

The programme covers 726 schools in a number of regions across Mali to provide basic low-cost water and sanitation infrastructure to ensure a healthy and adequate learning environment. It also focuses on hygiene promotion in both the school and the community to ensure behavioural change in the long term.

Dubai Cares efforts in Mali reflect the theme of its “End Poverty. Educate Now” Ramadan campaign, which aims to spread awareness of the importance of education, as one of the most effective tools to break the cycle of poverty. The campaign also aims to raise funds for improving children’s access to education in developing countries.

WAM/AM/CM

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