Message from Mr. Peter Connell

Over the last 6-7 years, UNICEF, USAID, the World Bank and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (a UN body) have jointly subscribed to a Hygiene Improvement Framework (HIF) as their preferred, holistic approach to reducing diarrhoea episodes in children aged under five . The HIF targets the bouts of acute watery diarrhoea suffered by such children each year, particularly in developing countries – which result in associated health problems, weakened nutrition and millions of deaths. It works by breaking the contamination pathways that connect the six ‘Fs’ of diarrhoeal disease – from the faeces of a host, through fluids, fields, flies and fingers, into food and then into a new host. And the framework has three main component parts:

• Improving access to water and sanitation hardware – Including improvements to water supply and water storage systems, sanitation facilities, provision of soap, and water treatment products.
• Promoting hygiene – Using behaviour change techniques such as social marketing, community outreach and participation, and school programmes.
• Strengthening the enabling environment – Encouraging supportive policies, providing training and other capacity-building, promoting partnerships, increasing financing, and mobilising community action.

The beauty of this Bleulight charitable initiative is that it has the potential to address all three of the HIF’s components. By sponsoring production and distribution of soap it improves access to an essential piece of the hardware needed to increase hand-washing with soap. By using NGOs as its distribution agents, it harnesses organisations which operate at the community-level and who are noted for their ability to change community behaviours – eg in explaining the six ‘Fs’ and encouraging hand-washing, especially before handling babies or preparing food and after using the toilet. By being active at the community level, this initiative can increase pressure for improved sanitation policy, provide one end of possible community-based partnerships and mobilise community leaders to advocate for hand-washing with soap.

I would like to congratulate Chan and George for the originality of their idea, for choosing such a worthwhile target as Myanmar (where the needs are enormous) and for their perseverance in bringing this excellent charitable initiative to fruition. I commend them and Bleulight to you wholeheartedly.

Peter Connell
Managing Director
Development Business Associates

Note:  For further reading see Joint Publication 8 – The Hygiene Improvement Framework: A Comprehensive Approach for Preventing Childhood Diarrhea. Washington, DC: USAID Environmental Health Project, May 2004.