The UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 focuses on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Globally, 443 million school days are lost each year due to a water related disease and about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year because of water- and sanitation-related diseases. (The Water Project, Facts about Water, 2016).
According to the Water and Sanitation Sector Performance Report (2004), an estimated 440 children die of diarrhea in Uganda every week. Diarrhea alone accounts for approximately 17% of infant mortality in Uganda. There are high morbidity and mortality rates as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation conditions in the IDP camps.
For the last ten years, Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) has been promoting Aquasafe; a water purification tablet; for the prevention of water borne diseases. UHMG’s approach to promoting water treatment practices includes community engagements through inter-personal community activations with local leaders, Village Health Teams, corporate social responsibility activities and use of innovative communication, IEC materials and media.
There is a positive correlation between education, quality of life, and good health, social and economic activity. Creating a healthy environment by provision of safe water and sanitation within schools will improve children’s health through the provision of health education and provision of health & other services. Compared to adults, children are often more receptive to new ideas and can easily change their behavior and develop new long-term behaviors as a result of increased knowledge and facilitated practices.
With a special focus on schools, UHMG has initiated activities geared to enhance water treatment through sensitization and communication strategies aimed at changing behavior towards use of safe water.
Why use Aquasafe?
You cannot tell if the water is safe for drinking just by looking, Aquasafe guarantees your water’s safety by killing the germs in water that you cannot see with your very own eyes.
Benefits of using Aquasafe
Aquasafe takes less than one minute to completely disperse once placed into water with effervescence and leaves no residue or sediment. Water treated with Aquasafe is ready for drinking after 30 minutes.
20 liters of tap water can be treated from as little as 50 UGX, which is cheaper than boiling water. A dispenser of 80 tablets cost 3000 UGX.
Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) the chemical in Aquasafe, produces optimum levels of FAC – free available chlorine which is safe for human consumption. The amount of NaDCC is 3.5 mg/liter, an amount considered adequate for infants, children and adults and that is well below the requirements of tolerable daily intake (TDI) estimated in 0 – 2 mg per kg of body weight. The JECFA committee also concluded that NaDCC in Aquasafe does not cause any harmful effects.
Aquasafe eliminates boiling water with charcoal and firewood therefore the environment is protected from degradation.
Aquasafe – Directions for use
For water collected from a tap, fill 20 liters of clear water in a clean jerry can, add one tablet of aquasafe, leave the container open & wait for 30 minutes. Your water is then safe to drink.
For water collected from a well, river or other sources fill 20 liters of clear water in a jerry can and add two tablets of Aquasafe. Leave it open and wait for 30 minutes and your water will be safe for drinking.
Who is responsible for water treatment in schools?
Treatment of water with Aquasafe is a one step process and therefore can be done by both students (water champions) and staff (water patrons). It is the responsibility of all within the school environment to ensure that water is safe and clean for drinking.
Is Aquasafe safe to be used on a long term basis?
Aquasafe produces safe levels of free available chlorine to treat unsafe water. It has been used by millions of people around the world without any problems.
The joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives JECFA has approved NaDCC (component within Aquasafe) for routine use in treating drinking water.
AQUASAFE, BE SURE! BE SAFE!
By Anitah Kyomukama
Uganda Health Marketing Group