The Catholic Relief Services has announced the implementation of its Integrated Community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (ICOWASH) project.
The project that seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of over 500,000 school children and adults in communities in northern Ghana.
With funding of $6.4 million from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the ICOWASH project has begun in the West Mamprusi and Talensi Districts and would completely benefit over 152,300 residents by the of end June 2020.
Poor sanitation and water access contribute to the spread of diarrhoea and pneumonia which kill over 10, 000 Ghanaian children each year.
Although incidents of diarrhoea and pneumonia can be reduced by 50% and 25% respectively, only 20% of Ghanaians wash their hands and over 70% of households have no access to handwashing facilities.
Over the weekend, a mini durbar was organized at Wungu to mark the global hand-washing day.
The Acting Project Manager of the international aid organisation, Mathilda Atogiyire, said the project would contribute to achieving access to improved water and sanitation in communities and schools in the two districts.
According to her, over 150 gender-sensitive and disability-friendly latrines in 80 schools and 31 CHPS compounds and health care facilities, are being constructed under the project.
In addition, about 85 boreholes with hand pumps were provided for communities, schools and health centres to ensure children have access to improved WASH facilities at school and Improved WASH services for health care seekers.
The theme for this year's celebration encourages the design and development of handwashing facilities with the involvement of children and older people with disabilities in mind.
It also advocates equal access to acceptable and appropriate handwashing facilities and equal engagement in related programming and promotion for these vulnerable groups.
Madam Mathilda added that through the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach, the project focuses on hygiene promotion and behavioural change communication strategies involving issues on handwashing, safe water storage, food hygiene and menstrual hygiene management.
She concluded by admonishing community stakeholders including local government authorities, to join forces with the Global Handwashing Partnership and spread the word about the multiple effects of handwashing on overall health and wellbeing.
She added that this opportunity be used to empower children to make handwashing a habit and to be innovative in making cheaper and more accessible handwashing stations.
The event, full of fun, started with football games between schools in the district and ended with presentations of rewards to the competing schools.
It was attended by the local government authorities, community leaders, stakeholders and the general public.