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Sesame Workshop India and Planet Water Foundation join hands to promote sustainable hand hygiene

In the backdrop of the existing Covid-19 pandemic, Sesame Workshop India (SWI) has its water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives to the next level. SWI has partnered with Planet Water Foundation and is targeting the diarrheal season (Diarrhoea death’s peak in the month of January) to renew and reinforce the need for washing hands and maintaining hygiene as a sure-shot means of avoiding the disease which is the 8th-highest cause of deaths globally. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and was responsible for the deaths of 370,000 children in 2019 (WHO data).

Safe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene are crucial to children’s health and well-being. With the growth in digital communication techniques, SWI has focused on technology and story-telling to bridge the communication gap, and reach out to the children and their families to catalyse a paradigm shift in the habits of the masses.

With support from Planet Water Foundation, SWI recently launched a special handwashing song – Chhapa Chhap (available here – youtu.be/3AQwLslNHqg) featuring children’s favourite muppets Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby, giving out the message of washing hands using soap to safeguard them against the life-threatening diseases. Additionally, to promote hand hygiene habits amongst children, Sesame Workshop India has been amplifying the message via engaging videos, e-books, and posters that were developed as part of its global initiative – ‘Caring for Each Other’, through various social media platforms.

Sesame Workshop India has always focused on visual modes of communication, which create entertainment, virality, enjoyment, recall and bridges the language divide. Its mass-market initiatives – television shows, community radio initiatives focus on building communities of change.

To help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder and create a world of possibilities for them, SWI has been engaging with 216 million children in India below the age of 8 across homes, classrooms and communities with content and programs on early literacy and numeracy, WASH and hygiene, nutrition, and gender equality. Providing home based education to over ninety thousand children across nine states, SWI is helping children catch up and be ready for school in the next academic year. Sesame Workshop India develops and distributes high-quality and engaging content through television, radio, community radio (CR), digital and on ground outreach initiatives.

Radio over Telephone has been a very effective technique to ensure that complete households can consume the messages together in communities which have no access to any other form of communication and outreach mediums, making it a unique initiative to influence hitherto unserved rural population.

Planet Water Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on bringing clean water to the world’s most impoverished communities through the installation of community-based water filtration systems and the deployment of hygiene education programs. Its projects are focused on schools, children, and rural communities. Since 2009, Planet Water has deployed more than 1,500 projects that provide clean water access to more than two million people across 15 countries.

Kristen Steele, Vice President, Education and creator of Planet Water Foundation’s water-health and hygiene education materials and school implementation platform said that “Handwashing is a cost-effective, healthy hygiene habit that can prevent many diseases amongst people and save lives. While the pandemic has led to an increase in the levels of awareness about handwashing, we aim to continue to emphasize upon the sustenance of this hygiene behaviour with Sesame Workshop India.

Supporting the health and hygiene needs of young children of India, Sonali Khan, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop India said that “Via our partnership with Planet Water Foundation, we aim to further boost messages on handwashing with Elmo and Chamki to children who are at a higher risk of suffering from the preventable diseases like Diarrhoea, any kind of flu, etc., and achieve positive health and hygiene outcomes to meet their developmental needs.”

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