Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hand-washing Malagasy style

A few years ago MfM gave some money for cyclone relief in an area of the central highlands where a particularly bad cyclone had flooded all the ricefields and ruined the rice crop.  There was great concern that the children were in danger of becoming seriously malnourished so part of the money was spent on a feeding programme at three remote primary schools.  The rest went on seed potatoes which their parents could grow on the hillsides out of danger of the floods. 

Children use an improvised handwashing contraption
We arrived at the first school just as the children were getting ready for their lunch.  There is no water supply to the school so the older children fetched some in buckets from the well which was some distance away.  They then filled half a dozen empty plastic bottles. These had holes drilled in the lids and were attached to a plank. One child squeezed gently while another washed their hands in the fine spray of water that came out.  Some 300 children washed their hands by this method in a very short time.  I fear that British children would be more likely to use the bottles as water pistols, unlike the Malagasy children who were impeccably well behaved! The ingenuity shown by this school in creating an innovative solution using receycled materials is typical of what we see in communities across Madagascar in the course of our work.

Pupils at Akany Avoko primary school.
In a country where diarrhoeal diseases are responsible for almost 10% of all deaths providing access to clean water is a vital part of our work. In addition to building or improving wells Money for Madagascar has also sent funds to enable Akany Avoko Children's Home to construct a rainwater capture and storage system to enable students at its primary school to wash their hands in clean, fresh water. 
All of the projects that Money for Madagascar funds depend on local resourcefulness and ingenuity for their success. Your support enables us to back the Malagasy people in finding small-scale solutions to the big problems facing the country, its wildlife and people.