At schools across India, the Aga Khan Foundation sets up sanitation committees where children are charged with overseeing the school’s water points and toilets and are taught about good hygiene practices, such as handwashing with soap, the safe storage of water, and the appropriate disposal of rubbish.
As children are often natural advocates for the things they learn, the Foundation encourages pupils to talk to their peers, families and neighbours to change their behaviour to make communities cleaner and healthier.
Read the blog about how pupil power is helping transform India.
Chetan Bharda, is a student at the Diamond School, Chitrawad. As a result of the knowledge he has gained about safe sanitation practices, he recently encouraged his neighbour to make a soak pit for waste water collection. Here is his story:
“One of my neighbours, a tailor, who lives near my house didn’t have any provision for waste water disposal in his house. Every evening, I had to cross his house and my shoes used to get dirty because of the large puddle of waste water that would accumulate on the road. In the summer months it would also make the whole road smell. Some of our other neighbours fought with the tailor because the waste water from his house was dirtying the neighbourhood and attracting insects.
At school we learnt about the importance of keeping our environment clean and how to dispose of waste water to prevent diseases. This gave me the idea to suggest to my neighbor that he construct a soak pit. I sat with him and explained to him why he needed one for his house and all the steps he needed to take to make one. He finally agreed to make one and now the lane in our neighbourhood is clean and everyone is happy”.