Youth action blog 2 - from school ceremony

Children Take Action to Improve Sanitation in their Local Community

Youth action blog 2: Water and Sanitation

In Maharashtra, five fifteen year olds have been taking action to improve water and sanitation in the slums near to their school and homes, after learning of a fatality of a child in the slums due to contracting a water-borne disease.

The children started the work in the local slum, as part of the Design for Change ‘I Can’ schools challenge, which encourages schools across India to support its’ students to take action to improve sustainability and reduce poverty. As such the children started to go to and work with the local community in the slum three times a week, encouraging change at a range of different levels.

First, they showed videos about how to keep toilets and drainage systems clean and used the videos as a starting point to open up a dialogue with the community.

Second, they actively helped clean the drainage system three times a week. Encouraging other members of the community to take part and support. Members of the community, who work on a rota to keep it clean, now do the cleaning on a regular basis.

Third, they worked with the elders of the community to appoint a Sanitation Inspector, to work across the whole slum area. This took a while to achieve but the post is now filled!

The students found some initial resistance from some community members, who did not want external people coming in and telling them to make changes. They found that over time and by building up relationships with different members of the community that they built up the trust that was needed to make change happen.

They are excited about what they can achieve together next and believe that “Together everything we imagine can become real”.

This group of students, seen above receiving recognition at their school, are winners of one of the GEMS Global Goals Awards, which is a category within the Design for Change ‘I Can’ Awards. They are receiving funds to continue their work, which aligns closely to Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Clean Water and Sanitation).

If you want to teach children about water and sanitation, check out our fun animated film that explains why it is such an important goal for India to achieve by 2030. Watch the film here!