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Lesotho takes part in the „World Walks for Water and Sanitation“ event 2012


by Max Träger, TED

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Around 500 people of all ages came together at Lesotho High School in Lesotho's capital city Maseru and started a walk through the town to raise awareness of the global crisis of water and sanitation. They are walking in solidarity with the millions of people - overwhelmingly women and children - who walk great distances each day to collect water for their basic needs and the millions who have no safe place to go to the toilet.

The WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector is in a global crisis that still kills 4.100 children every day[1]. This crisis is also manifest in Lesotho: more than 70% of the inhabitants are not served with a hygienic, safe and environmentally friendly toilet, have to practice open defecation or share a toilet with their neighbors. In the rural areas around 25% of the population do not have improved access to safe and clean drinking water.

Therefore people all over the world are walking together in the „World Walks for Water and Sanitation“ to demand that politicians take action to tackle preventable diarrheal diseases that are the second biggest killer of children globally, taking more young lives than HIV/AIDs, malaria and measles combined[1].

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The course started at the compound of Lesotho High School, led to the area of Maseru East, passed nearby Setsoto-Stadium and came to an end again at Lesotho High School. A very enthusiastic crowd carrying posters saying "Water and Sanitation for Everybody" or "Water is Life" made itself visible in the living areas and on the main road leading from Maseru to the North of the country. Lesotho's former football star and WASH United champion, Kabelo Mosothoane, was one of the guys in the first row and led the people through the course, where they were also filmed by Lesotho Television.

At the end of the walk there was a big event at Lesotho High School full of games, football matches, a DJ, a comedian and speeches or poems. One of the kindergardeners (4 years old) from Marabeng ECCD in Berea District, who performed poems on stage, told a story from his home: "Please install water pipe near my house, I don’t want to hear my young sister cry, 'yoo, yoo'! when my mother goes long time to fetch water, I can’t even play!" Mr. Stefane representing the Water Commission of the Ministry of Natural Resources emphasized: "We urge you students gathered here to form clubs like WASH United in your schools, then we can work hand in hand in addressing water and sanitation related issues!" The Environmental Club of Lesotho High School contributed with a song about water and its importance for human life. The members of the Club clearly see the importance of WASH for their health and for the development of the nation.

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WASH United, an international project that educates children and youths about Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in an entertaining way took the opportunity to organize various educational games for the school children:
The football-based "World Toilet Cup", where a brown ball has to be kicked into holes that look like toilets, was followed by the "Colored Ball Game" to show how easily germs can spread and how dangerous they are for human health. In the "Handwashing Challenge" the right way of handwashing with soap was explained. Together with Master of Ceremonies and WASH United champion, Kabelo Mosothoane, the WASH United team made clear: "Learn to wash hands with water and soap after playing and especially before handling food to prevent curable diseases, properly use toilets for poo for protection of water resources!"

With exciting 5 vs. 5 soccer games and very delicious Basotho food a day of fun, but more a day to advocate for the Human Right for water and sanitation, came to end. For all participants it was an enjoyable day with a big and important message behind it: "Water and Sanitation for All!".

 

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References

[1] WHO and UNICEF, 2009. Diarrhoea: Why children are dying and what can be done. (PDF, 3.1 MB)  
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