In Madagascar, diarrheal diseases are one of the three leading causes of death among infants aged 6 to 23 months. To promote routine handwashing with soap, which could prevent nearly half of diarrhea cases, the Mérieux Foundation launched the WASH project in 2017.
WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) educates children about the importance of washing hands with soap, drinking safe water and using latrines to stop the spread of disease. The kit is part of a broader effort involving local NGOs and other partners to provide sanitary blocks and ensure access to clean water for communities.
The WASH education kit harnesses the immersive technologies that make computer games popular to spread key messages about good hygiene and good habits. Activities specifically target the 8-to-12 age group. The project team worked with a Malagasy graphic artist to design an interactive educational game “Stop Germs!” which motivates children to learn and gives them a positive image of good hygiene. The kit also includes a card game, a coloring book, a badge and a certificate for the family, in addition to a trainer’s guide and a quiz to boost the knowledge of teachers and facilitators. The children become ambassadors, introducing new behaviors to their parents, who may have little or no schooling.
Results to date
- Designed to be used in classrooms or community centers, the kit was presented to local partners on December 5, 2017 in Antananarivo. In the fall of 2018, it was distributed in 9 Ambatondrazaka villages and 2,000 people took part in educational activities designed to build awareness about WASH. Since the project launch:
- 200,000 children have used the WASH kit
- 100 high schools have organized distribution via partner association
- 8 sanitary blocks have been built in Ambatondrazaka villages
- 17,000 bars of soap have been distributed
Our goal is for WASH, Nutrition and the other health education kits is to reach one million children by 2020 in Madagascar.
While WASH and Nutrition, the first two in our series, are being rolled out, we are developing additional kits on health-related themes using immersive technologies, games, films, etc. Future kits will address sexually education and the prevention of STDs, addiction, and personal hygiene.
- Malagasy Ministry of Education
- Malagasy Ministry of Public Health
- Malagasy Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
- Graines de Bitume, a local NGO
- Akamasoa, a local NGO
- The initiative is co-funded by Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux
What’s Special about the WASH Kit
“What’s special about this project, first, is the fact that what’s inside the kit is so well adapted and pertinent. I especially appreciated the whole design phase, including the rich and fruitful discussions between Malagasy and French participants. Each individual made suggestions; nothing was imposed. All the workshops to decide what to include in the kit showed the designers’ determination to make useful suggestions, rather than imposing solutions. In its paper version, the kit is meant to be adapted to everyone, including people who live in rural areas, so that it is not limited to a digital.”
Christine MAGNY, Graines de Bitume Coordinator