WASH & Health Care Facilities

WASH & health care facilities are meant to be places where people go to seek treatment for illness, not where they are at risk of contracting one.

Yet, millions across the globe face an increased risk of infection if they seek treatment at health care facilities because of the lack of safe and improved WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene). Many of these facilities are breeding grounds for infectious diseases and thus pose a major barrier to the overall health of individuals and positive healthcare treatment outcomes.

These problems have become even more evident over the past year as developing nations continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. WASH services are needed more than ever to protect patients and health care workers.

Recently, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, large development organizations, and national governments have made it a top priority to improve WASH in health care settings by doing a global assessment and making a plan of action to fix this atrocity.

The Water Problem

A severe lack of safe water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management, and environmental cleaning in health care facilities across most low- and middle-income countries poses a huge threat to the health of patients, visitors, health care workers, and especially newborns and their mothers. According to recent reports from UNICEF and the WHO, an estimated 896 million people use health facilities with no water service, and another 1.5 billion use facilities with no sanitation service.

There are major issues worldwide with WASH & health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries, and in the Rorya District, Tanzania, where Maji Safi Group is already working to tackle WASH issues in many different sectors, the problem is huge.

Access to Clean Water

Access to consistent, clean, and improved water sources remains an issue throughout Tanzania for many WASH & health care facilities. Though most facilities in this study (81%) have access to an improved water source, others are still relying on water from rivers and shallow wells, which can cause major health issues. Only 51% reported that they have access to water most days, with other facilities receiving water only some days of the week or even only seasonally. Only 23% of the facilities receive water that is treated at the source, and hardly any have a system in place to regularly monitor the quality of the water they are using. The lack of clean water places these facilities at a much higher risk of contamination and the spread of water-borne and infectious diseases.


Lack of Sanitation

In these health care facilities, it is also very common to find significant plumbing issues with drain systems in sinks, showers, and toilets. Cleaning is often very infrequent, and some facilities have floors that are not cleanable. It was reported that only half of the toilets/latrines observed were free from foul odors and sufficiently clean for use.


Hand Washing and Hygiene

Another major barrier to hygiene in these WASH & health care facilities is the poor quality of hand-washing stations and a lack of sufficient materials to use. One in four health care rooms did not offer hand washing at the point of care at all, and the stations found were some of the most unclean and poorly maintained parts of the facility. Only 56% of hand-washing stations in consultation rooms had water available, and only 51% had soap. This is a major hindrance to clean, safe health care. If workers are not able to clean their hands properly, there is always an increased risk for bacteria and viruses to spread.

Unsafe Waste Management

In many WASH & health care facilities, there were major gaps and deficiencies related to sorting, collecting, storing, and disposing of health care waste products. This can be extremely harmful to patients, visitors, and health care workers. The lack of proper management of waste is often the result of poor training and supervision.

Lack of Environmental Cleaning

In many facilities, the overall environment was not clean and kept to a proper standard to ensure safety. Cleaning systems and practices were not in place to make sure that surfaces were cleaned, sanitized, and sterilized properly. Tanzanian HCFs lack specific standards for cleanliness, leaving those in charge with no guidelines or minimum standards to abide by. Latrines are often blocked, bathtubs are clogged and/or not regularly cleaned, and water systems often leak or are broken. Standards must be put in place to regulate cleanliness in these facilities.

Maternal and Neonatal Care

One of the primary areas where WASH issues are rampant is in maternal and newborn care. Each year, more than one million deaths are related to unclean births, including 26% of neonatal deaths and 11% of maternal mortality.

The overall cleanliness of labor and delivery rooms and the availability of proper hand-washing stations and sanitation practices are essential to the health and well-being of newborn babies and their mothers. Without them, there is a much higher risk for infant mortality and/or illness in the mother or baby.

Education & Health Care Workers

Much of the problem with WASH in health care facilities stems from a major lack of education and training for health care workers. There are no education requirements in Tanzania for health care attendants, and many do not receive proper training on the importance of WASH.

Patients are not educated about proper hygiene either. The study found that only 33.5% of the respondents were informed of essential hygiene behaviors upon arrival at the health care facility.

While there is a huge gap in education, many health care workers are aware that they are at great risk for infection because of unsafe WASH practices – 86% of auxiliary workers reported their concern about common infections, such as HIV and tuberculosis, being passed at their facilities, and 41% of workers said they often lacked proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Maji Safi Mission


One of Maji Safi Group’s primary goals this year is to join the global movement towards improving WASH in health care facilities to complement our community-based education model.

Practical potential ways for improvement:

  • Perform a baseline assessment in more than 20 health care facilities (HCFs) in the Rorya District.
  • Partner with the District Medical Office and the Shirati KMT District Designated Hospital to create a 5-year plan for improving WASH in HCFs.
  • Implement a WASH Facility Improvement Team (FIT) model with partnering HCFs and provide capacity building and infrastructural improvements.
  • Advocate for the improvement of WASH in HCFs in the Rorya District and recruit partners from the private and public sectors.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and share our learnings with other district and regional governments.

Over the past decade, Maji Safi Group has proven the tremendous power of interactive, community-driven education in combatting diseases and promoting healthy lifestyles. In 2021 and beyond, we hope to be on the frontline of educating communities about WASH through the HCFs we partner with.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said this: “Water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities are the most basic requirements of infection prevention and control, and of quality care. They are fundamental to respecting the dignity and human rights of every person who seeks health care and of health workers themselves. I call on people everywhere to support action for WASH in all health care facilities.” 


Causes of Water Pollution in Tanzania

In rural Tanzania, water contamination plagues many communities. Unclean water sources are the primary cause of countless preventable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, intestinal worms, amoebas, schistosomiasis, chronic diarrhea, and malaria. According to the World Health Organization, it estimated that throughout Africa, 115 people die every hour from diseases linked to improper hygiene, poor sanitation, and contaminated water. Taking a look at some of the causes of water pollution in Tanzania can help us to focus on preventative measures.  This is why Maji Safi Group is committed to educating Tanzanians about these issues and how to address them.

Some of the main sources of water contamination in Tanzania’s rural communities are: open defecation, sewage, bathing at water sources, doing laundry and washing dishes at water sources, agricultural runoff, factory pollution, household waste pollution, fishing industry pollution, and general waste from businesses.

To identify and prevent water contamination, each source must be examined for its accessibility and quality. These are questions often used to identify water contamination at a source: 

  • Is it an unprotected source, such as an open well, ditch, or pond? 
  • Do people wade, wash clothes, or bathe near the collection point? 
  • Are pit toilets or sewage close to the water source? 
  • Is there garbage in or very close to the water source? 
  • Are there snails in the water or living on the bank?
  • Does algae grow on the surface?

Contamination can occur upstream and cause disease downstream. In other words, if a village upstream has unsanitary practices, it will affect villages downstream. Thus, if unsanitary conditions are found, the implications downstream must be taken into consideration. 

Causes Of Water Pollution In Tanzania

Expanding populations and emerging human development activities greatly contribute to the contamination of water sources in urban areas of Tanzania. The causes of water pollution in Tanzania in more rural areas, however, is mainly due to the lack of access to an improved source of safe water. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, approximately 30 million citizens don’t have access to improved sanitation. 

As a result of inaccessibility to sanitation, people in these regions – particularly women and girls – are pressed to travel long distances to collect clean water. With a better understanding of the causes of water pollution in Tanzania, more are able to improve circumstances as it relates to water. More than a quarter of the population spends more than half an hour per trip to collect water. This task can prevent many from attending school, particularly girls. 

The majority of the population in these rural communities continue to depend on rivers, lakes, ponds, and irrigation canals as the main source of drinking water. The demand for clean water continues to increase due to both population growth and climate change. In response to the general causes of water pollution in Tanzania, many are moving toward the trend of utilization of groundwater as the main water source for domestic purposes.

Diseases Caused By Contaminated Water

Many preventable diseases caused by unsanitary water sources are damaging the livelihoods of Tanzanians. Here are a few: 

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease passed through snails. It is often a chronic illness that can damage internal organs and impair growth and cognitive development in children. Symptoms can often go undetected for years. Schistosomiasis can be eliminated by getting rid of the water-dwelling snails – thus the importance of examining sources for the presence of such snails. 

Cholera is a highly contagious disease that left untreated can cause death in mere hours. It is caused by the ingestion of bacteria from water or food sources. After ingestion, it causes severe diarrhea. Prevention of cholera lies in improved sanitation practices and water sources. 

Typhoid is a bacterial infection that leads to high fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. It often occurs in places where hand washing is neglected, and it is passed through contaminated drinking water or food. 

These are just a few of the preventable diseases caused by contaminated water in Tanzania. Most of these diseases are completely preventable and treatable if there is an increased focus on water, sanitation, and improved hygiene practices.

Solutions For Clean Water
causes of water pollution in Tanzania

One affordable solution to providing villages with clean water is rainwater harvesting. Rainwater is some of the cleanest, naturally occurring water available because of a natural distillation process. Rainwater is often collected from roofs and occasionally from ground or rock catchments. 

The only disadvantage to using rainwater is possible contamination from animals, insects, or algae growth in or on catchment surfaces. These surfaces can act as a breeding ground for disease if they are not properly maintained.

Identifying Water Contamination

Identifying sources of water contamination is a crucial step in the journey toward ensuring clean and safe water for Tanzanian communities. Understanding the sources allows us to take targeted measures to prevent and mitigate pollution. In this section, we will explore the methods and questions commonly used to identify water contamination at its sources.

Methods for Identification

Visual Inspection

One of the most straightforward methods for identifying water contamination is through visual inspection. By physically examining the water source and its surroundings, experts and communities can often spot signs of pollution. Common visual cues include the presence of trash, debris, or unusual coloration in the water.

Water Testing

Water testing is a more scientific approach to identify contamination. It involves collecting water samples and analyzing them for the presence of harmful microorganisms, chemicals, or pollutants. Various water quality parameters, such as pH levels, turbidity, and the presence of specific contaminants, can be assessed through laboratory testing.

Community Reports

Engaging the local community is essential. Residents who use the water source regularly may have valuable insights into its quality. Gathering reports from community members about water-related illnesses or unusual water conditions can help identify contamination issues.

Key Questions for Identification

To determine if a water source is contaminated, several critical questions should be asked:

1. Is it an unprotected source, such as an open well, ditch, or pond?

Unprotected sources are more susceptible to contamination from various environmental factors and human activities.

2. Do people wade, wash clothes, or bathe near the collection point?

Activities like bathing and washing near the water source can introduce contaminants directly into the water.

3. Are pit toilets or sewage close to the water source?

The proximity of human waste disposal facilities to the water source poses a significant contamination risk.

4. Is there garbage in or very close to the water source?

Trash and litter can degrade water quality and provide breeding grounds for disease vectors.

5. Are there snails in the water or living on the bank?

The presence of snails can be indicative of waterborne diseases like schistosomiasis, as certain snail species act as intermediate hosts.

6. Does algae grow on the surface?

Algae growth can indicate excess nutrients in the water, which can lead to water pollution.

The Ripple Effect of Contamination

It’s essential to recognize that contamination can have far-reaching consequences. If a village upstream has unsanitary practices, it will affect villages downstream. Therefore, when unsanitary conditions are found, it’s crucial to consider the implications downstream. Water pollution is not confined to its source; it can travel, causing disease and environmental harm along the way.

Identifying sources of water contamination is the first step toward taking effective measures to ensure clean and safe water for all Tanzanians. By employing visual inspection, water testing, and community involvement, we can pinpoint pollution sources and work towards sustainable solutions that protect both human health and the environment.

Factors Driving Improvements To Water Pollution

In general, poverty is a huge barrier to access water and sanitation. Unfortunately, sub-Saharan countries in Africa are among the world’s poorest areas. According to the Brookings Institute, those living in poverty in the sub-Saharan region grew from 287 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015. 

Some of the measures taken to address the various causes of water pollution in Tanzania include:

  • Promoting household adoption of latrines
  • Installing hand-washing facilities in program villages
  • Improving long-term water care and education

Maji Safi’s approach incorporates some of these same methodologies, particularly focused on education through WASH. Improvements to established programs are having a positive impact on communities. Cumulative results show:

  • 635,000 residents reached
  • 225,000 people taught through WASH lessons

“Maji Safi” means “clean water” in Swahili. Our mission from the start has been to bring clean, protected water sources to rural Tanzanians. We know that when the proper steps are taken, people are educated, and systematic changes are made, lives will be saved, diseases will be prevented, and opportunities for Tanzanians will abound. Do your part and help prevent water contamination in Tanzania!

water pollution crisis tanzania

Water Sanitation and Hygiene in Tanzania

WASH Crisis Explained

Water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania is a major issue plaguing many communities in rural areas. In 2015, only about 24 percent of the population had access to at least basic sanitation17 percent in rural areas.

Access to safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene education was declared human rights at the 2010 United Nations General Assembly. But in countries around the world, major issues continue to surround WASH, the collective term used for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. 

Maji Safi Group is focused specifically on the WASH crisis in rural Tanzania where the systems providing clean and safe water, improved sanitation efforts, and health education are often nonexistent or corrupt. Many residents are struggling to have their basic needs met, and most rural populations are plagued by preventable diseases due to the lack of sanitation, clean water, and knowledge of disease prevention. Though this crisis is still serious, Tanzania has continued to see improvements in all these areas over the past decade, and Maji Safi Group is committed to helping bring an end to this crisis. Let’s explore each area of WASH to see how both individuals and whole communities are being affected across Tanzania.


As part of its Vision 2025, the Government of Tanzania has pledged to increase access to improved sanitation to 95 percent by 2025. 

Today, diseases caused by poor water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania result in 4.2% of global deaths. In addition, in Tanzania, 9% of all mortality in children under five years of age is due to diarrhea. This number has shown slight improvement since 2003 when the mortality rate in the same age group exceeded 17 percent. 

Issues that arise due to poor water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania include the development of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid fever
  • Skin infections
  • Eye infections
  • Malaria

Without water sanitation and hygiene, exposed fecal matter can be transferred back into food and other clean water resources, spreading serious diseases and illnesses. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are crucial but often underplayed parts of the prevention and control of numerous diseases. 

Importance of water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania include:

  • Provides nourishment
  • Prevents disease
  • Help the body get rid of toxins
  • Required for agriculture and food production


In 1990, 76 percent of the global population had access to safe drinking water and 54 percent had access to adequate sanitation facilities. Then in 2015, the numbers climbed to more than 91 percent with access to safe drinking water, and 68 percent with improved access to sanitation. 

However, in sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the population drink water that derives from dangerous sources, such as surface water. Approximately 102 million people are drinking surface water.  


Twenty-five million Tanzanians lack access to safe water, and oftentimes the water they do have is miles away from their homes and heavily contaminated with dangerous pathogens. Women and children are most often in charge of collecting water for their families, and when family members get sick from unprotected water sources or other diseases, it is almost exclusively the women who must care for them. Consequently, women and girls are often away from work, school, and their homes for extended periods of time, missing out on educational and economic opportunities. 

Only 60 percent of Tanzanians get their drinking water from an improved water source, which includes piped water, public taps, tube wells, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater. However, the goal is for all Tanzanians to not only have access to improved sources but to safely manage water sources. 

While health concerns are grave, so is the educational disruption caused by poor water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania. For the current water issue to be classified as safely managed, the source must be improved and located at the household or land plot, preventing the extended travel times that keep children and women from educational and career opportunities. Poorly built infrastructure, improper operations, a limited supply chain for parts, and a lack of expertise to ensure proper preventative maintenance keep these safely managed sources from becoming a reality for Tanzanians. The need here goes beyond water bottles and filters. Tanzania needs systemic change to its water systems!


Water sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania (WASH) is an ongoing crisis for citizens of this diverse country.

Eighty percent of rural Tanzanians rely on unimproved sanitation facilities, pit latrines without platforms or slabs, or in the worst-case scenario – open defecation. To prevent water and food contamination and the spread of disease, facilities need to be in place that prevents human contact with human waste. The improved facilities needed are pit latrines with a slab or composting toilets with flush or pour capabilities that drain to a sewer, septic tank, or an additional pit latrine. But most rural communities lack the necessary resources to build good latrines as well as the understanding of how unsanitary practices affect both personal and public health. Schools often lack access to adequate latrines for their students which can be particularly damaging for young women who end up dropping out because there is no clean, private toilet for them to use while at school. There is much work to be done to build these safely managed sanitation resources, and there is a need for proper education on why they are so key to creating healthy, thriving communities.

water sanitation and hygiene in tanzania crisis


Another major need in Tanzania is access to education and resources on proper hygiene. Seventeen percent of people have no place to properly wash their hands, and even when they do have hand-washing facilities, they often do not have soap and clean water. This is a major issue in schools where 84 percent do not have a proper place for students to wash their hands. There is a desperate need to help build these hand-washing facilities and give families the resources to practice good hygiene that will prevent health issues and diseases.

water sanitation and hygiene in tanzania

Typhoid in Tanzania

Like cholera and leptospirosis, typhoid fever is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. In the United States, typhoid fever is rare, with under 400 cases annually, mostly acquired in endemic regions of the world like Asia, Africa, and South America. In fact, people are not routinely vaccinated for typhoid in the United States, except before traveling abroad. Typhoid is extremely transmissible via the fecal-oral route through contaminated water or food, and people living in areas without access to clean water and sanitation facilities are most at risk. Children are at the highest risk of infection and experience the highest rates of morbidity and mortality from typhoid. Typhoid can cause high fever, headaches, abdominal pain, weakness, loss of appetite, and enlarged spleen and liver. Untreated, typhoid can become life threatening.

With 40% of Tanzanian households lacking access to safe drinking water and 60% lacking access to improved sanitation, many Tanzanians in both rural and urban communities are at high risk of infection from typhoid. Tanzania has an incidence of typhoid of over 79 thousand cases a year. The majority of cases occur in children under 15 years old. Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone. Unfortunately, Salmonella Typhi is increasingly drug resistant. In 2016, multi-drug resistance of 89% was demonstrated in blood-culture studies in Moshi, Tanzania. Blood cultures are necessary to diagnose typhoid, and a full course of antibiotics is needed to treat, making the disease difficult to address in low-resource environments. Prevention through access to clean water, improved sanitation, and proper hygiene practices, especially handwashing, is critical to decreasing the risk of infection, morbidity, and mortality.

Maji Safi Group’s Community Efforts to Prevent Typhoid

Maji Safi Group incorporates typhoid prevention into all its sanitation and hygiene education programs in schools, homes, health care centers, and community venues, such as restaurants, stores, salons, etc. Since typhoid can be transmitted readily through food preparation, Maji Safi Group’s outreach to restaurants with hygiene education is a particularly important component in prevention. In 2022 alone, MSG visited and taught WASH lessons at 16 salons, 29 shops, and 25 restaurants for two days each. WASH lessons included hand washing, water filtering, treatment and storage, food preparation, and toilet facilities. In 2022, Maji Safi Group also distributed 477 handouts related to typhoid prevention.

The Future

The WHO has recommended mass vaccination with the newly developed Typbar-typhoid conjugate vaccine in endemic countries with a high burden of typhoid and high antimicrobial resistance. This new vaccine is more effective than previous typhoid vaccines. It requires only a single dose and can be used safely in children over six months of age, making it appropriate for use in conjunction with regular childhood vaccination programs.

Through education and community programs on the importance of using clean water, improving sanitation, and practicing proper hygiene education, Maji Safi Group is already instrumental in reducing the burden of typhoid in Shirati. If the Typbar-typhoid conjugate vaccine becomes a viable option in the medical landscape of the Mara Region, Maji Safi Group would be able to expand its programmatic impact by working closely with our partners at the District Medical Office (DMO), the Shirati KMT District Hospital, and the health centers and dispensaries we work with to explore ways to make this new option as effective and accessible as possible. When the medical community in the Rorya District conducts mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns, Maji Safi Group typically helps staff the outreach and provides onsite WASH and disease prevention education.

Maji Safi Group also has the capacity to react quickly to disease outbreaks through print media, village visits, radio broadcasts, social media, and a telephone hotline. After having helped government health authorities fight three cholera outbreaks in the Rorya District, an emergency response plan was developed by MSG and the DMO with funding from the LUSH Charity Pot program.

During COVID-19, Maji Safi Group reached millions of people in East Africa through a social media campaign with factual information about preventing the disease and was one of the top 10 public health influencers on social media within East Africa.

Click HERE for more information about our ICT program.

Symptoms and Treatment of Typhoid

Typhoid fever, a significant health concern in regions like Tanzania, manifests through a range of symptoms that can often be confused with other febrile illnesses. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for timely intervention and treatment, significantly since the disease can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Identifying Typhoid Symptoms

Typhoid fever doesn’t manifest immediately after the infection; it has an incubation period of 6-30 days. The symptoms often develop gradually and can be non-specific initially. Common symptoms include:

  1. High Fever: One of the first signs, typically rising over several days up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Weakness and Fatigue: Patients often experience a feeling of tiredness and weakness.
  3. Stomach Pain: This can be particularly acute in the lower abdomen, with possible bloating.
  4. Headache: A persistent, dull headache can be a common experience.
  5. Loss of Appetite: Individuals may exhibit a significant reduction in appetite or disinterest in food.
  6. Rash: Some patients develop a flat, rose-colored rash known as “rose spots.”
  7. Enlarged Spleen and Liver: In some cases, an enlarged spleen or liver is detectable upon physical examination.

Seeking Timely Medical Attention

Given these symptoms, especially when persistent or severe, it’s imperative to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis often involves blood cultures to detect the presence of S. Typhi bacteria, the causative agent of typhoid.

Modern Treatment Approaches

Once diagnosed, treatment should commence immediately to prevent the illness from advancing to a more severe stage. The cornerstone of typhoid treatment is antibiotic therapy. While drugs like ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole were previously effective, resistance to these has grown significantly.

Today, ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone are frontline treatments. However, an emerging global challenge is the increase in Salmonella Typhi strains resistant to these antibiotics. In Tanzania, a disturbing rate of multi-drug resistance has been observed, underscoring the urgent need for vigilant antibiotic stewardship.

To combat drug resistance, there’s a growing emphasis on vaccination as a preventive measure, particularly in high-endemic areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) for children over six months of age in these regions. New-generation vaccines like Typbar-TCV are more potent and long-lasting than their predecessors, requiring only one dose, thereby offering a practical preventive health measure.

The Role of Hygiene and Clean Water

Treatment aside, prevention is always better than cure. It’s crucial to highlight the role of hygiene and access to clean water in preventing typhoid. Regular handwashing, safe food preparation practices, and consuming treated water are simple yet effective ways individuals and communities can reduce their risk of typhoid.

Impact of Clean Water Initiatives in Tanzania

In Tanzania, a nation where 40% of households grapple with the scarcity of safe drinking water, the impact of clean water initiatives extends far beyond just quenching thirst. These initiatives are pivotal in reshaping communities, reducing disease prevalence, nurturing the economy, and ultimately, fostering a healthier, more prosperous society. Here, we delve into the multifaceted benefits that clean water programs, such as those implemented by Maji Safi Group, have brought to Tanzanian communities.

Health: Curtailing Disease and Saving Lives

The most immediate and evident impact of clean water is the reduction of water-borne diseases, including typhoid fever, cholera, and leptospirosis. By providing access to clean, uncontaminated water, these initiatives dramatically decrease the incidence of these illnesses, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children under 15, who bear the brunt of morbidity and mortality from conditions like typhoid.

Moreover, clean water enhances general well-being. It means healthier children who can attend school regularly and adults who are fit to work. For instance, by integrating typhoid prevention into its sanitation and hygiene programs, Maji Safi Group has played a crucial role in illness prevention, further underscoring the health benefits of accessible clean water.

Economic Benefits: Fueling Community Development

The economic upliftment stemming from clean water initiatives is profound yet less discussed. When communities are healthy, adults can pursue their livelihoods uninterrupted by illness, and children can attain education without frequent health-related absences. This stability is foundational for economic development, as it fosters a robust workforce and cultivates future generations of skilled professionals.

Furthermore, water projects often create job opportunities within communities, from construction to maintenance roles, facilitating a direct infusion of economic resources into local households.

Women and Children: Changing Lives

In many Tanzanian communities, the task of water collection falls primarily to women and children, often involving long, perilous journeys that consume time which could be used for educational or economic activities. Clean water access within communities liberates them from this duty, empowering women to engage in more productive endeavors and allowing children more time to focus on their education.

Sustainability and Environment: Promoting Harmony with Nature

Clean water projects, when designed mindfully, also contribute to environmental sustainability. They prevent the depletion of local water sources, protect ecosystems, and promote harmony between communities and their environments. Educating communities on sustainable water use ensures that these resources are available for future generations.

Community Empowerment: The Foundation of Self-Sufficiency

Clean water initiatives are often coupled with educational programs that empower communities to maintain and manage these water resources independently. Knowledge of water safety, hygiene practices, and basic maintenance are invaluable for the sustainability of these projects, fostering a sense of ownership and pride within the community.

Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

Tanzania’s SWASH Guidelines play a crucial role in addressing the pressing challenge of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools across the country. These guidelines, introduced by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in 2016, provide a comprehensive framework for improving WASH facilities in primary and secondary schools.

In this article, we explore the key elements of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines and their significance in overcoming barriers to educational success. We delve into the importance of conducting assessments to identify areas for improvement, the role of hygiene education in promoting healthy behaviors, and the need for community involvement in sustaining WASH initiatives. By adhering to these guidelines and implementing sustainable WASH practices, we can create safe and conducive learning environments that contribute to the overall well-being and academic achievements of Tanzanian students. Join us as we delve into the transformative impact of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines in promoting a healthier and more successful educational system.

Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

The Importance of Tanzania SWASH Guidelines

In order to understand the significance of the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, it is essential to recognize the impact of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities on student health and educational outcomes. Here are key points highlighting the importance of these guidelines:

  • Health and Well-being: Insufficient access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene facilities can contribute to the spread of diseases and negatively impact the overall health and well-being of students. The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines aim to address these issues by providing a framework for the provision of safe and hygienic environments in schools.
  • Academic Performance: Poor WASH facilities in schools can have a detrimental effect on academic performance. Lack of access to clean water, functional toilets, and proper handwashing facilities can lead to increased absenteeism, reduced concentration, and lower cognitive abilities. By implementing the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, schools can create an environment that promotes better learning outcomes.
  • Gender Equality: Inadequate menstrual hygiene management facilities can disproportionately affect girls’ education. The guidelines emphasize the importance of separate and appropriate facilities for girls, ensuring they have equal opportunities to attend school and succeed academically.
  • Disease Prevention: Proper sanitation and hygiene practices are crucial for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, such as diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines provide guidelines for waste management, handwashing facilities, and cleanliness maintenance, promoting a healthier school environment and reducing the risk of disease transmission.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: The Tanzania SWASH Guidelines align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6, which aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. By adhering to these guidelines, Tanzania is making significant progress towards achieving SDG targets and improving the overall quality of education and life for its students.

By recognizing and implementing the Tanzania SWASH Guidelines, schools in Tanzania can make significant strides in improving student health, enhancing educational outcomes, promoting gender equality, and contributing to sustainable development goals. These guidelines provide a comprehensive framework for creating a safe, healthy, and conducive learning environment for all students.

The Problem

School is meant to help children and youths succeed and thrive. However, many Tanzanian students are fighting to stay healthy because it is difficult for their schools to provide acceptable levels of water, sanitation, and hygiene. In 2010, UNICEF, SNV, and WaterAid conducted a SWASH (School Water Sanitation and Hygiene) mapping survey in 2,697 schools located in 16 districts in Tanzania. As the statistics below indicate, the survey showed that the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in pre-, primary and secondary schools was lamentable. The situation especially results in reduced cognitive function and learning and a high number of absences due to WASH-related diseases and poor menstrual hygiene management. Issues, such as poor sanitation, a lack of doors on latrines, and a lack of access to menstrual products, lead to girls being denied an equal opportunity to succeed academically compared to their male peers.

Guidelines for Successful School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (SWASH)

To address these barriers to educational success, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology created a National Guideline for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Tanzania Schools in 2016 to implement improvements that would lead to efficient and adequate provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene in primary and secondary schools. Ensuring that students and teachers are educated about WASH and provided with proper WASH facilities that meet the defined guidelines leads to increased learning, attendance, and overall success of students.

Intervention and Assessment

A crucial first step towards changing SWASH is planning the appropriate interventions after conducting an assessment of the improvements needed at a school to provide adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities and thus guarantee a safe environment for learning. Assessments and intervention steps enable administrators, government partners, and other stakeholders to see a detailed outline of what the successful development of the facilities could look like. The development of such a SWASH plan involves analyzing the current challenges and creating a timeline for targeting the areas that specifically need improvement.

Education around Hygiene and Sanitation 

Constructive and sustainable interventions need to include a strong commitment to effective hygiene education to promote healthy behaviors and proper use of WASH facilities. This helps ensure that facilities are used correctly to maintain cleanliness and promote longevity. Just having a WASH facility has little impact on health outcomes unless the students, faculty, and surrounding community are educated about proper hygiene and sanitation. For younger children, it is helpful to educate them with games and stories, while keeping the information simple for them to understand. Older children will be able to have more complex and in-depth discussions about the importance of good hygiene practices. It is also important that teachers and community members help demonstrate the correct way to use facilities and encourage regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure the longevity and safety of facilities. If WASH facilities are not used properly, they can become a breeding ground for disease and pose severe safety hazards.

One way Maji Safi Group ensures sustainability in our SWASH programs is through organizing teachers and students to launch a School Health Club to lead their school towards healthier environments and habits. Members of the club maintain and clean the WASH equipment, replenish WASH supplies, and continue to teach future students about important health education. Through such peer-to-peer teaching, students become empowered as young leaders in their schools and community.

Hygiene Practices at Home are Equally Important as at School

Encouraging proper sanitary and hygienic behaviors for students at school is a big step for improving student health, but an enabling environment for practicing healthy habits at home must be established as well. This helps ensure that the positive effects on student health are protected in both their school and home life. Effective SWASH projects make sure that the schools, teachers, and students engage with the community to ensure that a ripple of change makes it into the homes. It has been found that parents are likely to embrace proper WASH practices that children bring home from school, and thus adopt them in their homes.

Community Involvement

An important aspect of holistic WASH intervention is getting the community involved in positive changes. This encourages the long-term use and support of SWASH facilities and also maximizes the overall health benefits realized by the community. It is always easier to make lifestyle changes when those surrounding you are also making those changes; therefore, community involvement catalyzes the interventions being made at schools. Getting the community actively involved can be accomplished in many ways, including meetings and events that give students the voice to lead their community in a healthier direction.

Requirements for a proper SWASH facilities include:

  • Adequate water supply from a protected water source that provides safe drinking water and water for personal and environmental cleaning.
  • Latrines and urinals that have washable floors and pits (or septic tanks) that ensure safely stored waste. Schools must have separate latrine blocks for boys and girls to ensure privacy and the necessities for girls to continue to attend schools during menstruation.
  • One hand-washing facility for every 100 pupils with clean water and soap in an accessible location for all (including at latrines).
  • Proper disposal of waste on a daily basis in a safe trash pit or incinerator and proper drainage for wastewater.
  • Proper maintenance of facilities and a high level of cleanliness at the school and in the surrounding areas. There should be a regular checklist that ensures that facilities are maintained, restocked, and repaired as needed.

Our mission

Maji Safi Group will continue to develop programs that provide WASH education and instill proper WASH practices in schools and communities. By preventing common and preventable diseases, we can help transform rural Tanzania. We walk alongside communities as they make behavioral changes and obtain WASH infrastructure, and we provide factual health education that catalyzes healthy habits among our participants.

MSG has always put extra focus on engaging with youths, so that they can bring change for generations to come. Through our School Health Clubs, we are committed to improving SWASH conditions and breaking the silence surrounding menstruation, so girls are not denied the necessities they need to safely stay in school during their cycle.

If we commit to assessing, educating, and implementing sustainable SWASH programs, we can positively impact the future of Tanzanians!

Public Health Practicum Experience In Tanzania

The Maji Safi Group (MSG) is a non-profit organization that promotes public health and prevents waterborne diseases through WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) education in Tanzania. Since its inception in 2013, MSG has championed a participatory development model that places local community members at the forefront of driving transformative changes in public health.

This article explores the invaluable Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania offered by MSG. This immersive program allows students and professionals in the field of public health to engage with communities and gain hands-on experience in tackling critical health challenges. Participants work closely with local community members, learning about their unique needs and co-designing sustainable interventions.

From conducting health assessments and implementing WASH education initiatives to monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes, this practicum experience equips individuals with practical skills and an in-depth understanding of the complex dynamics of public health in Tanzania. By placing communities at the heart of their approach, MSG and its Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania are fostering sustainable change and empowering communities to lead healthier lives.

Public Health Practicum Experience In Tanzania

The Participatory Development Model of MSG

Explanation of MSG’s participatory development approach

At the heart of Maji Safi Group’s (MSG) work in Tanzania lies a powerful approach known as participatory development. This model recognizes the inherent knowledge, resources, and strengths within local communities and empowers them to drive changes in public health. MSG firmly believes that sustainable solutions can only be achieved when community members are actively involved in the decision-making process.

Involvement of local community members in driving changes in public health

Unlike traditional top-down approaches, MSG prioritizes the inclusion and participation of local community members. Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration, MSG fosters a sense of ownership among the communities it serves. This involvement empowers individuals to take charge of their own health and well-being, leading to long-lasting changes that extend far beyond the duration of MSG’s programs.

Importance of community empowerment in sustainable health interventions

By placing communities at the center of its work, MSG recognizes the transformative power of community empowerment. It acknowledges that individuals living within a community possess deep insights into the challenges they face and the most effective strategies to overcome them. Through the participatory development model, MSG empowers communities to identify their own needs, co-design interventions, and take ownership of their implementation.

Through this approach, MSG ensures that its efforts align with the cultural norms, values, and aspirations of the communities it serves. By actively involving community members in decision-making processes, MSG ensures that interventions are not only effective but also sustainable, as they are designed and implemented with a deep understanding of the local context.

In summary, MSG’s participatory development model fosters collaboration, empowerment, and sustainability. By harnessing the knowledge and agency of local community members, MSG paves the way for transformative changes in public health in Tanzania.

The Participatory Development Model of MSG

Overview of the Public Health Practicum Experience

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania is a unique opportunity for students and professionals in the field of public health to gain practical skills and firsthand experience in tackling critical health challenges. This section provides an overview of the program, including its purpose, target audience, and structure.

Description of the program and its purpose

The Public Health Practicum Experience is designed to immerse participants in the realities of public health in Tanzania. It offers a comprehensive and hands-on learning experience that goes beyond theoretical knowledge. Participants have the chance to work directly with MSG and local communities, contributing to impactful interventions and gaining a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in public health.

Target audience: students and professionals in the field of public health

The program is open to both students pursuing degrees in public health and professionals seeking to enhance their practical skills and broaden their global health perspectives. It provides an ideal opportunity for individuals who are passionate about public health and eager to make a tangible difference in underserved communities.

Duration and structure of the practicum experience

  1. Duration: The Public Health Practicum Experience typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months, allowing participants to engage in meaningful and impactful work while accommodating different schedules and commitments.
  2. Structured learning: Participants are exposed to a structured learning environment that combines classroom instruction, fieldwork, and mentorship from experienced public health professionals. This multifaceted approach ensures a well-rounded and immersive experience.
  3. Fieldwork and community engagement: The program emphasizes hands-on fieldwork, giving participants the opportunity to collaborate with local communities, conduct health assessments, implement WASH education initiatives, and monitor progress.
  4. Reflective practice and evaluation: Participants engage in reflective practice, critically analyzing their experiences and evaluating the outcomes of their interventions. This process encourages continuous learning and improvement.

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by MSG provides a transformative experience for participants, equipping them with valuable skills, a deeper understanding of public health challenges, and the ability to contribute to sustainable change in Tanzania.

Impact and Benefits

Practical skills gained through hands-on experience

The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania provides participants with invaluable practical skills. By engaging in hands-on fieldwork, participants develop competencies in areas such as community engagement, needs assessment, program implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and intercultural communication. These skills equip participants with real-world experience and enhance their ability to address public health challenges effectively.

In-depth understanding of public health challenges in Tanzania

The practicum experience offers participants a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the complex public health challenges faced by communities in Tanzania. By working closely with local community members, participants witness firsthand the impact of waterborne diseases and other health disparities. This immersive experience fosters a deeper appreciation for the social, cultural, and environmental factors that influence public health outcomes in the region.

Empowering communities to lead healthier lives

One of the most significant benefits of the Public Health Practicum Experience is the empowerment of communities. By adopting a participatory development model, MSG and its participants actively involve community members in designing and implementing interventions. This collaborative approach builds trust, fosters community ownership, and empowers individuals to take charge of their own health. The experience instills a sense of agency and resilience among community members, enabling them to continue driving positive change long after the practicum concludes.

Through their contributions, participants in the Public Health Practicum Experience become catalysts for sustainable improvements in public health. Their efforts not only directly benefit the communities they work with but also have a ripple effect, inspiring others to embrace healthier behaviors and leading to systemic changes in public health practices.

In summary, the Public Health Practicum Experience offered by MSG in Tanzania yields multiple impacts and benefits. Participants acquire practical skills, develop a comprehensive understanding of public health challenges, and contribute to empowering communities for long-term health improvements. This transformative experience shapes participants into advocates for equity and drives positive change in public health both locally and globally.

Impact and Benefits


The Public Health Practicum Experience offered by Maji Safi Group (MSG) in Tanzania is a transformative journey that combines hands-on learning, community engagement, and the empowerment of individuals and communities. This section provides a concluding reflection on the importance and impact of the program, reaffirming MSG’s commitment to community empowerment and encouraging future participants to engage in this meaningful experience.

Recap of the importance of the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania

The Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania, facilitated by MSG, stands as a powerful platform for individuals passionate about public health to make a tangible difference. Through this program, participants engage with local communities, co-design interventions, and contribute to the prevention of waterborne diseases and the improvement of public health outcomes. The participatory development model adopted by MSG ensures that interventions are sustainable, community-driven, and culturally relevant, resulting in long-lasting impact.

Affirmation of MSG’s commitment to community empowerment

MSG’s commitment to community empowerment is at the core of its work. By involving local community members in all aspects of public health interventions, MSG acknowledges their expertise, values, and aspirations. This participatory approach not only amplifies the voices of the community but also ensures that interventions are contextually appropriate and sustainable. MSG remains steadfast in its dedication to empowering communities to lead healthier lives and fostering enduring changes in public health.

Encouragement for future participants to engage in the program

To all individuals passionate about public health and seeking to make a meaningful impact, the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania offered by MSG beckons as an incredible opportunity. By participating in this program, individuals gain practical skills, broaden their understanding of global health challenges, and contribute to sustainable change at the grassroots level. The experience shapes participants into advocates for equity, resilience, and community-driven interventions. By joining forces with MSG, participants can be part of a collective effort to improve public health outcomes and empower communities in Tanzania and beyond.

In conclusion, the Public Health Practicum Experience in Tanzania provided by MSG embodies the power of community engagement, participatory development, and hands-on learning. By embracing this experience, individuals have the potential to become change agents who positively impact public health and inspire others to join the journey towards healthier and more empowered communities.

Menstrual Hygiene Products in Tanzania

Menstrual hygiene is a critical aspect of women’s health and well-being. Yet, it is often overlooked or stigmatized in many parts of the world. In Tanzania, menstrual hygiene remains a taboo subject often met with silence and shame. In addition, the lack of access to affordable and reliable menstrual hygiene products is a significant barrier to women’s education, employment, and social mobility.

Maji Safi, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Tanzania, is working to change this narrative by providing access to menstrual hygiene products and education to girls and women in rural communities. This article explores the challenges women face in Tanzania with regard to menstrual hygiene and the impact of Maji Safi’s interventions on these women’s lives. It highlights the need for more investment in menstrual hygiene education and infrastructure in Tanzania and other low-income countries to ensure that all women have access to the essential resources to manage their periods with dignity and without shame.

Menstrual Hygiene Products

In many places, menstruation is a taboo subject. It is shrouded in silence and stigma, so people are not properly educated about menstrual hygiene health (MHH), reproductive rights, and respect for the other sex. In addition, a lack of access to feminine hygiene products keeps women and girls away from work and school, and the use of makeshift materials, such as old rags, hay, and mattress fillings, leads to serious health issues.

Maji Safi Group has built an innovative and much respected Male and Female Hygiene Program in the Mara Region of Tanzania. Through interactive school classes, community events, and radio shows, we have helped break the silence and educated thousands of people about menstruation and reproductive rights and given the girls in our school programs free access to different kinds of feminine hygiene products: disposable pads, reusable pads, tampons, and menstrual cups.

Fortunately, menstrual hygiene products are becoming increasingly accessible and affordable to females in Tanzania.

Below is a list of companies that are targeting this need, including a brief description of their products.

Anuflo Industries – Introduced affordable, safe, and eco-friendly menstrual cups to rural Tanzania and created an app and a website in Swahili to educate their users and provide a convenient way for girls and women to track their menstrual cycle.


AFRIpads – Started as a 3-person social enterprise and now delivers reusable menstrual pads to 37 countries. They are committed to providing cost-effective and eco-friendly MHH solutions that support local manufacturing and rural development. Their standard kit includes 2 Super Maxi pads, 3 Maxi pads, and a carrying pouch.


ReliefPad – Makes eco-friendly, reusable pads with a focus on chemical- and fragrance-free products with anti-microbial properties that kill off germs to protect from infections. They empower 10 million girls across the globe by breaking taboos, providing MHH education, and offering pads.

Luna Cups – Makes eco-friendly menstrual cups from soft, durable, and hypoallergenic medical grade silicone that eliminates the risk of toxic shock syndrome. The cups can be left in place for up to 12 hours, where after they should be emptied, rinsed with water, and reinserted. After each period, they must be sterilized and then stored.

Always – Is an American product manufactured in Canada and sold globally. Their menstrual hygiene products include disposable maxi pads, ultra-thin pads, panty liners, disposable underwear for nighttime wear, and vaginal wipes. They have run several campaigns, such as ‘Always Keeping Girls in School’ and ‘End Period Poverty’ where a pad was donated for each package sold.


Be Girl – Is a social enterprise committed to meeting the menstrual hygiene needs of 250 million girls with high-performance products, addressing gender equality, and giving girls choice, confidence, and courage. Be Girl also provides age-appropriate menstrual education for girls and boys. They are well-known for their period panties.


WomenChoice Industries– Is a social enterprise that manufactures and distributes low-cost reusable breast pads, diapers, and menstrual pads called ‘Salama Pads’. Their mission is to ensure that every woman and girl in Africa stops using unhygienic materials to manage her menstruation. Salama pads can withstand 100 washes and are manufactured in Tanzania.

Fahari Pads – Fahari reusable sanitary pads are fabricated in Dar es Salaam. They are eco-friendly, ultra-absorbent, natural, long-lasting, and made of high-performance textiles designed to keep the user safe, dry, and comfortable during menstruation. Each kit contains 4 reusable sanitary pads (1 maxi and 3 regular size pads) and costs approximately $5.


Elea Ambassadors – Produces affordable, eco-friendly sanitary pads made from high-performance textiles. The reusable pads provide protection for 12+ menstrual cycles. Elea Pads are distributed and sold by a woman-to-woman, micro-entrepreneurial sales force, whose members receive start-up kits, training, and marketing support. Elea Pads has a network that reaches more than 50,000 girls and women in rural areas.

Lunette Cups – This Finnish company’s mission is to change the attitude towards menstruation and provide education and period care solutions, so daily lives are not interrupted by lack of MHH. The design of reusable Lunette cups is rooted in safety, ease, and comfort and accommodates bodies of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Lunette cups are ecological, convenient, and economical.

PrincessD Menstrual Cups – Made from medical-grade silicone, this South African menstrual cup brand is reusable for 10 years and offers leak-free protection for up to 12 hours. One menstrual cup is equivalent to approximately 3,000-5,000 sanitary pads/tampons over a 10-year cycle and therefore ideal for girls in impoverished areas and environments with without proper waste management.

O.B Tampons – The idea for a tampon that could be inserted without a separate applicator was initiated in Germany in 1947 as the cardboard used for the applicator in the American product Tampax was unavailable in post-war Germany. The young gynecologist Judith Esser designed it, and by 2010, O.B. tampons were exported to over 30 countries. Although not reusable, tampons are preferable to disposable pads, as they are more affordable and create less waste.

U By Kotex® – U By Kotex® believes that nothing should get in the way of a woman’s life, especially not her period, nor the negative perceptions around menstruation. Kotex produces disposable tampons, pads, and liners. The company is a founding sponsor and supports the mission of the nonprofit Alliance for Period Supplies, which collects, warehouses, and distributes menstrual hygiene product in local communities.

Lavy Pads – Tanzanian entrepreneur, model, and beauty contest winner Flaviana Matata has launched these high-quality feminine sanitary pads that are safe, comfortable, and affordable. Her goal is to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation and help vulnerable girls get pads for free while in school in low-income areas. Ten percent of her profits go directly towards this goal.

Mother Nature Products – This South African company has launched Glory Pads. They are plastic- and chemical-free, 100% natural and fully biodegradable within six months. They are highly absorbent, super soft and light, odor-free, and equipped with a unique bamboo charcoal center for maximum absorption and antibacterial properties. Revenue from Glory Pads supports MHH campaigns and educational programs in schools and communities.



T-Marc Tanzania – This organization is an independent, locally managed, non-governmental organization committed to improving the well-being of Tanzanians through programs that provide accessible, affordable health services and products in both Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. In January 2020, they launched Flowless sanitary pads. They are a high-quality, ultra-thin, and cost-effective product. They offer an ultra-soft cotton top layer, a breathable back sheet, super-absorbent core, side leakage protection, and aloe vera extract for freshness and smoothness.

Maji Safi Group

Maji Safi Group is committed to helping girls and women in Tanzania grain access to affordable menstrual hygiene products, so they can stay in school and be successful in the workforce. We are delighted to see that so many options are available. So far, our strongest partners are Anuflo Industries, AFRIpads, and Be Girl.



WASH and Child Mortality

In 2015, the UN set the Sustainable Development Goal of having safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) worldwide by 2030.

This hope has brought the direct need for these improvements to the forefront. Some two billion people have gained access to improved water and sanitation sources. But the work to eliminate WASH issues is far from over – 700 hundred million people still do not have access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion do not use improved sanitation facilities, and 1 billion still practice open defecation.

Poor WASH impacts children in unique ways and specifically affects child mortality rates. Children are especially susceptible to health issues from unimproved water sources because of their developing body systems – digestive, respiratory, lymphatic, etc. Their survival rates from the disease are also much lower when basic sanitation and hygiene resources are compromised. Worldwide, 6,000 children die of water-related diseases every day.

Evidence supporting a connection between child health outcomes and WASH conditions has often been limited and inconsistent. Still, recently, the development world has pushed to reexamine this relationship. The findings indicate that people with access to safe water and proper sanitation facilities have much lower child mortality risks and diarrhea. Historically, the most profound data has been linked to how poor WASH impacts diarrhea-based diseases among children.

WASH and Child Mortality

Importance of WASH in Developing Countries

Access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical for improving health and well-being in developing countries.
Poor WASH conditions can spread waterborne diseases and increase the risk of death, particularly among children.

In addition to its impact on health, access to WASH is also essential for economic development. This is because it allows for improved productivity and reduces healthcare costs. However, the lack of WASH facilities can also lead to increased gender inequality, as women and girls are often tasked with collecting water and dealing with the lack of proper sanitation facilities.

Investing in WASH initiatives in developing countries is a crucial step toward improving health outcomes, promoting economic growth, and reducing inequality.

The Connection Between WASH and Child Mortality Rates

There is a strong connection between access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and child mortality rates. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health consequences of poor WASH conditions due to their developing immune systems and higher exposure to pathogens in their environment.

The lack of access to clean water sources and proper sanitation facilities can increase the risk of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, which is one of the leading causes of child mortality worldwide. Poor hygiene practices in healthcare facilities can also contribute to infections and increase child mortality rates. Therefore, improving WASH conditions has a significant impact on reducing child mortality and improving health outcomes for children.

Importance of WASH in Developing Countries

WASH and Diarrheal Episodes

Children living in rural places plagued by WASH issues experience an average of four to eight diarrheal episodes per year between birth and age two. This suggests that they are exposed to many pathogens during their first two years of life. Diarrhea globally accounts for 1.4 million child deaths per year. The World Health Organization suggests that 58% of these deaths are linked to unsafe water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

Children are at high risk of being exposed to these dangerous pathogens in public play areas. Child play often occurs when soil and surface water have been infected with pathogens that cause serious health issues when ingested. Human feces is also a major contributor to soil-transmitted bacteria that cause diarrhea and other similar issues in young children. With the continual practice of open defecation in many communities, there are rich opportunities for children to ingest fecal bacteria, which leads to illness and possibly death. Data indicate that safer fecal disposal reduces childhood diarrhea occurrences by 37%. There is much-needed work to end open defecation and install proper latrines and toilets for people to use in these communities.

WASH and Diarrheal Episodes

WASH and Child Health Care 

Another focus area in WASH that would improve overall child health and reduce mortality rates is improved sanitation in healthcare facilities. Having clean water and proper sanitation in delivery rooms and during health services for mothers and babies would help reduce childhood mortality. Fundamental hygiene during labor and delivery, such as cleaning hands and surfaces, reduces the risk of infections and death up to 25%.

There is a great need in Tanzania’s healthcare facilities for more WASH education. Workers must be taught the importance of proper WASH practices, and we must work to ensure the proper equipment is available for them to use.

Improving and Saving Lives

For children to thrive physically and cognitively in their communities, there must be better WASH practices. Fundamental education on things like handwashing, food preparation, and proper waste disposal saves and improves lives. For example, handwashing with soap can reduce diarrheal diseases by 42 to 47%.

Every year, close to 11 million children die worldwide before their 5th birthday, primarily from preventable diseases, and another 300 million suffer from illnesses caused by WASH issues. Maji Safi Group’s mission is to help these numbers drastically decrease in rural Tanzania. Would you join us in saving and improving the lives of these children?