Global Handwashing Day 2022 was celebrated across Maharashtra in both the rural and urban areas with the participation of communities, sanitation workers, school students, teachers, community-based organisations, Anganwadi workers, tribal groups, etc., through on-ground outreach and digital campaigns.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocating for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Celebrated every year on October 15th, the 2022 Global Handwashing Day theme was “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene.”
All the above-mentioned organizations and departments in Maharashtra conducted activities for a week, to spread the behaviour on the importance of handwashing and to lay emphasis on the health implications that can be derived from the practice. Key stakeholder groups were mapped as an initial process to effectively share the message with relevant audiences, followed by the planning of contemplative interventions, to suit the sensibilities of the beneficiary groups.
Throughout the week, various activities were organized at the grassroots level and a total of around 16.5 million people were reached through these activities across Maharashtra, with a message on hand washing with soap and water.
The activities included competitions on speech, video making, song writing, garba, dandiya and slogans; distribution of soaps; street plays, mass awareness campaigns, soap collection rallies, creating ads and jingles; webinars and virtual events.
To make the sessions captivating, the messages were contextualized and shared in colloquial languages. Emphasis was laid upon experiential and immersive learning of the groups, especially the children and school students who were leading the campaign.
As children are amongst the most vulnerable population, and the most susceptible to contracting infections, the consequences of an unsafe and unsanitary environment are arduous and devastating for them. Growing up in a clean and safe environment is every child’s right. Therefore, providing access to safe sanitation facilities, and improved hygiene as well as educating children on ways and means to protect themselves from unforeseen diseases, is crucial. Schools are places where children spend most of their time and accept it as a learning environment. Hence, teaching children to wash their hands with soap in critical times can be the most effective when there is an emphasis on peer and cross-learning, through engaging initiatives.
The facilitating agencies and the departments ensured maximum participation and involvement in the planned activities. For the programmes organized by SWSM units in Maharashtra, all the 34 districts cells under Swachh Bharat Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission participated enthusiastically, and all activities were carried out diligently throughout the week.