These issues are not limited to homes; WASH access is essential at institutions as well. People need access to safe water, toilets, and waste facilities in places they frequent: work, schools, and even healthcare facilities.
According to a recent report by the WHO and UNICEF, an estimated 1 in 5 healthcare facilities around the world have no sanitation service, impacting 1.5 billion people. It is likely that many more people are served by health care facilities lacking hand hygiene facilities and safe waste management.
Ben visited a couple of local villages to try to understand how access to and behaviours surrounding the use of WASH facilities affected the health of new mothers and their babies.
During my fellowship, I had the opportunity to travel to Bahraich district in the province of Uttar Pradesh to collect data. More than three million people live in Bahraich, and we visited the 14 community health centres that serve them. At each facility, we assessed the toilets, handwashing stations, waste management system, and overall cleanliness.
During the assessments, I was able to meet and interview staff members at each centre, to understand what underlying factors contributed to both the positive and negative results.
Ben conducts an interview with a medical officer at a Community Health Centre in Bahraich.
The results of the assessments have been shared back to the healthcare facilities as well as relevant district authorities to help them begin to make any necessary course corrections. AKF can help develop implementation strategies based on the data collected, and conduct follow-ups.
Getting to visit the healthcare centres helped bring to life the WASH concepts I had spent weeks researching, and it reinforced the importance of bringing about universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. As I begin to build my career as a young professional in development, I know that my time and experience with the youth fellowship will serve as a strong foundation.
The International Youth Fellowship program helps young Canadian professional launch careers in development by working for a host organization in Africa or Asia. The program is supported by the Government of Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada, through the funds raised by World Partnership Walk and Golf. Ben’s placement at Aga Khan Foundation (India) ended in February 2020.