This Guide helps communities to consider improving their lifestyle to reduce disease and infection. Promoting effective and low-cost sanitation, encouraging good hygiene and improving access to clean water supplies helps people to live healthier lives. Young children and babies are particularly at risk of infection and disease from poor sanitation, poor hygiene practices and dirty water. At present over 1.7 million children under five years old die each year from diarrhoea (World Health Organisation). Many of these deaths would be prevented if good hygiene was practised.
The Guide helps people to reflect on the particular challenges in their own living situations that make access to effective sanitation and safe water supplies difficult. Low-cost ideas are shared that could be used in most situations, including refugee camps. People are encouraged to discuss and think about beliefs and traditions that may influence personal, household and community hygiene.
In many situations, people are instructed in good hygiene, rather than having the opportunity to make their own decisions regarding sanitation, hygiene and water supplies. This Guide encourages people to take responsibility for their own lives, based on a good understanding of hygiene and how disease is spread. It helps people to make wise decisions regarding access to sanitation, good hygiene and safe water supplies that may have far-reaching impact on the health and lives of their families.
Each topic in this PILLARS Guide is designed to encourage small group discussion in a relaxed and open manner. The guide aims to build people’s understanding of the basic facts about good hygiene. It encourages people to respond to the needs of their own community and takes a Christian perspective. Before using the Guide it would be helpful to agree on the appropriate words to use for terms that people often find embarrassing, such as faeces, latrines and urine.
- To increase the awareness of religious and community leaders of the need for them to encourage positive attitudes about good hygiene practices and sanitation.
- To help people understand how poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation contributes to disease and ill health.
- To facilitate changes in attitudes and practice towards good hygiene and sanitation.
- To challenge unhelpful practices that lead to the spread of infectious diseases from food and water supplies that have been made dirty by faeces.
- To encourage communities to take responsibility for establishing and managing water supplies and sanitation services.
- Local leaders have increased awareness of their ability to encourage changes in their community and of the value of organising local people to take action.
- Local people have increased awareness of how water-related diseases, particularly diarrhoea, affect health and spread through poor hygiene.
- Reduced infection and death rates of children under five from diarrhoeal diseases.
- Well-managed water supplies and ongoing maintenance of water pumps.
- Positive change in the attitudes and practices in the use and maintenance of latrines.
- Local people have increased understanding of the importance of hand washing and motivation to put this into practice.
- Improved hygiene promotion.
- Local organisations that promote latrines, public health and safe water improve their working together more effectively at all levels.