As an IYIP intern with Youth Challenge International, I have been given the opportunity to work on two areas that I am very passionate about – the environment and international development. I thought I had a good idea about what working on environment and international development would be like. I thought I might be educating people on conservation issues like climate change and the need for tree planting, but where my internship has taken me is far from what I had anticipated!
My IYIP placement has taken me to Morogoro, Tanzania, where I am an intern with Faraja Trust Fund. Faraja is a health based community organisation, that is expanding its reach into environmental issues. Due to this I have been researching environmental issues in Morogoro town and how they relate to health. This has led me to WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
Prior to coming here I had never even heard of the acronym WASH before and now as I am diving deep into everything to do with WASH, I am learning so much more about health and how it is impacted by our environment. I have also learned how crucial it is that we address Water, Sanitation and Hygiene issues for both international development and the environment. The UNDP states that 1.2 billion people live without access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation, and according to UNICEF every day 5000 children die from Diarrhoea related illness. These are preventable deaths that are related to water, sanitation, hygiene, which is directly related to our environment and how we take care of it.
So as my internship has taken shape, I am focusing on raising awareness on water, sanitation, hygiene and other related environmental issues like waste management and composting in an informal settlement of Morogoro, called Chamwino.
It only takes a walk through Chamwino to see the environmental health issues all around; piles of garbage, burning garbage next to houses, pools of stagnant water (due to drains being blocked with garbage), poor or no toilet facilities, no place for hand washing … and the list goes on.
In this community I am going to be working with the Primary and Secondary schools to raise awareness and implement activities that will help to make positive behaviour changes around these issues. I am a strong believer in the power of youth and education to create change, and I feel that by working in these schools it will also lead to changes in the overall community. I hope that by making the WASH education fun and interactive it will lead students to share what they learn with those around them, their friends and their family. This will hopefully allow the information to trickle down and impact the wider communities’ awareness about WASH.
So far I have done a couple introductory WASH presentations at the primary schools in Chamwino, – I have written about them on my blog at The Sustainable Path I am now in the process of planning for a more in-depth WASH program to implement at these schools.
I am excited about the path my internship has taken me on, it’s not what I expected! But it has allowed me to learn a lot about WASH, and become passionate about addressing these issues and really linking environment, health and international development together.
- Jamie Van Egmond, IYIP intern, Tanzania 2011