Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Instructions
1. Origins of Diarrhoeal Diseases
Access to improved safe drinking water is only one of several crucial steps in improving family health. Diarrhoeal diseases do not only have their root in contaminated water, but are transmitted through a large variety of channels. The most common ways for children and adults to catch diarrhoeal diseases is by swallowing the germs found in human or animal faeces. These germs can be transferred through fluids, fingers, flies and fields.
*Do not use turbid water, or water polluted with metals or harmful chemicals. Use bottles with a maximum volume of three liters only.
For example, if you do not wash your hands with soap after defecating and touch food afterwards, the germs of your faeces will be transmitted to the food. When eating, the germs will enter your body, and can cause life-threatening diseases.
WASH interventions are dedicated to resolving such faecal-oral spread of diseases, and strategically aim at putting barriers in place. The following graph (UNICEF, 2011) describes the potential impact of WASH interventions on the spread of diarrhoea:
2. The three most essential barriers that can stop the spread of diarrhoeal diseases are:
- a) Hand Washing with Soap,
- b) Household Water Treatment,
- c) Sanitation.
a) Hand Washing With Soap
Washing your hands with soap is the simplest and most effective way to prevent diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections. It is important to know that washing hands with water alone is not enough; in order to ensure that hands are fully cleaned, soap must always be used. Critical times to wash hands with soap are: After using the latrine; before touching food or eating; and after cleaning a young child or helping a child go to the toilet. Good hand-washing practices also reduce the incidence of other diseases, notably pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as trachoma, scabies, and skin and eye infections.
How to wash your hands with soap (UNICEF, 2009):
Description: Make your hands wet. Thoroughly apply soap to every part of your hand. Wash off the soap with water.
HELIOZ strongly recommends the creation of hand washing stations. These should always be equipped with soap, water and soak-aways for draining the wastewater, and should be used as part of the daily routine. An easy example for a hand washing station is the following (SODIS, 2006), which can be built easily using only piles of wood, nails, bottles (0,5 – 3 litres) and strong rope. Fill one bottle with soap, and the other two with water; Re-fill the content when bottle is emptied.
b) Household Water Treatment
Drinking water may be contaminated with health-threatening pathogens. Therefore, always ensure that your source of water is reliable. If you do not have access to a reliable source, your water needs to be treated first; one way to do so is through solar water disinfection (SODIS), using only a PET-bottle, WADI™ and the power of the sun.
It is of great importance to always use a latrine or toilet when defecating (faeces and urine). This way, the spread of pathogens from faeces can be controlled, and the risk of catching diarrhoea and other life-threatening diseases can be reduced. It is also essential that latrines and toilets are kept clean at all times. Only this way, excreta disposal counts as safe.
3. How do WASH-principles need to be considered with the use of WADI™ particularly?
The adherence to WASH principles is of great relevance to the health of WADI™ users. Reason for this is that treated water can easily be re-contaminated. To prevent this from happening, WADI™ users must follow the instructions below:
References for Graphics:UNICEF - WASH for Schoolchildren in Emergencies: A Guidebook for Teachers (2011). UNICEF - Soap, Toilets and Taps: A Foundation for Healthty Children (2009). SODIS – Training Manual for SODIS Promotion (2006).