UN-Habitat in collaboration with UNESCO this week held an advocacy seminar on 'Healthy Schools-Healthy Settlements' to encourage healthy hygiene practices among school children.
The objective of the event was to empower informal settlements and strengthen the capacity of schools in promoting behavioral change. The seminar focused on empowering children and schools as actors of behavioral change and focused their attention towards total sanitation, health and hygiene practices and other environment behavioral change activities within their settlements.
UN-Habitat initiated an extensive project "Water, Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Education in Urban Schools through Environment Clubs Project" in March, 2011 in the urban areas of Karachi and Quetta. Implemented with support from UNESCO and the government of Pakistan, the outcome of the project is to help transition informal settlements into healthy settlements.
Kamran Naeem, Basic Services Manager, UN-Habitat Pakistan spoke about the Hyster model for total sanitation which is a new approach that UN-Habitat uses and the role of schools in sustaining improved behaviors through this approach.
The chief guest, Pir Mazharul Haq, Senior Minister, Education and Literacy Department, Sindh appreciated the efforts of UN-Habitat and UNESCO in involving schools in promoting hygienic behavior changes. He identified the problems that exist currently and the need to address them for a better more productive Pakistan.
UNESCO Country Director, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata stressed on the importance of a safety school plan which is critical to Disaster Risk Reduction at a school level in order to create preparedness and increase an individuals and community's mitigation of disasters. She gave several tips on how children could make real change in their lives to contribute to collective change.
Representatives from the Government, Ministries, UN officials, academia and the media attended the conference and showed their support during the event.