Islamic Relief has brought together thousands of children, school staff and other members of the community in an event to promote good hygiene in the Philippines.

The event was held last month to mark Global Handwashing Day, and saw Islamic Relief participating in celebrations involving more than 200 million people in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children every year.

The activities organised by Islamic Relief were held at Bantayan Elementary School, which was damaged when super-typhoon Haiyan hit the country almost one year ago. Around 3,200 students, school staff, and volunteers took part, as well as representatives from local government and NGOs such as Oxfam and Caritas – who, like Islamic Relief, are working to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene in the Philippines.

Pledging to maintain good hygiene practices

A motorcade, accompanied by song, involved representatives from scores of barangays (village areas), which are benefitting from a UNICEF-funded programme to tackle open defecation within 15 months. Oxfam organised a demonstration and dance performed by a local theatre-group.

handwashing3

Children engaging in our Global Handwashing Day activities.

Participants pledged to maintain hygiene practices through handwashing with soap and water. The event concluded with an orientation for the Philippine Approaches to Total Sanitation (PhATS) project by Islamic Relief’s programme manager.

Islamic Relief began working in the Philippines in 2013, providing life-saving humanitarian aid to communities left devastated by one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall.

We have since delivered early-recovery projects – which have included constructing disaster-resilient shelters for families that lost their homes –  and are shortly to launch a comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene programme in the province of Cebu.