LANXESS facilitates water supply and training programs to increase hygiene in Africa

  • 25 schools in Tanzania receive rainwater treatment systems and new sanitary facilities
  • LANXESS supports health education in African schools

Leverkusen -

LANXESS AG and the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) have set themselves the target of cutting the high disease and death rate in Tanzania resulting from unclean water and inadequate hygiene. Implementation of the cooperation project launched in mid-2008 is taking place in several stages. 25 schools and their immediate surrounding areas were the subject of a wide-ranging analysis in the fall of 2008. It was then decided which sustainable sanitary technologies were the most suitable from an environmental and financial perspective, depending on the location and condition of each building. Introduction of the measures started in spring 2009. These include giving each school a rainwater treatment system for drinking water, cement sinks and extra toilets. The project also includes improving one or two traditional sources of water in each catchment area and repairing existing but non-functioning sources of water such as shallow wells. 

Knowledge transfer for improved water usage

As well as a proper water supply, it is also necessary to provide local students and teachers with information on appropriate water usage. A hygiene and health education program is therefore being integrated into lessons as part of the cooperation project. The first step towards this goal involved examining the current situation in schools and identifying the most efficient and sustainable measures. Investigations showed, for example, that elementary school children in particular were drinking from sanitary facilities, owing to the lack of drinking water. 

Following the analyses, 75 teachers and four district coordinators were given training. The training program covered health education, principles for ensuring a safe water supply and good hygiene, information on the project structure and use of appropriate teaching material. The training showed that knowledge transfer by itself was not enough. What was needed first and foremost was a fundamental change in the children’s behavior. Difficulties are caused in particular by the low standard of education among parents and the general aversion to toilets in Tanzania.

Workshop on health and hygiene education

Comprehensive basic materials on health and hygiene education in schools were developed in a seven-day workshop in order to give teachers clear information material. An initial test was conducted with 125 students to determine whether the materials meet the requirements. They need to be easily understandable – particularly for people who cannot read or write – and must also encourage individuals to take concrete action. One example is in the use of an appropriate illustration to underline the need to wash fruit before eating. 

However, the project also covers first aid training including equipment for schools. The rationale for this is that injuries such as cuts and grazes frequently go untreated and become infected. What’s more, the symptoms of disease and risks of infection are frequently not detected early enough. To avoid this in the future, one or two teachers per school received first aid training. In addition to being given practical know-how on the initial treatment needed, they were also given the information necessary to determine when a student requires professional medical assistance. Contact was also made with the nearest health facility. Hospital staff now visit the schools at regular intervals to check their health and hygiene standards. 

Aided by LANXESS, AMREF will continue to drive forward implementation of the project in partnership with Mkuranga District Council until December 2010. 

LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 6.58 billion in 2008 and currently about 14,600 employees in 23 countries. The company is represented at 46 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the 

development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

Leverkusen, January 21, 2010


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