Raising awareness through collaboration: FLUSH and WISE
In carrying out its goals, WISE continuously collaborates with various movements that share the same vision to work towards universal access to the basic needs of sanitation and hygiene and subsequently raise awareness via shared learning and capacity building. As a matter of reference, the 2017 UN-GLAAS Report indicates that only 3.8% of all aid funding in the world goes to water and sanitation programs, of which 42% goes to sanitation-focused initiatives. The cause for lack of funding can be traced to a limited public interest in the matters of sanitation, which usually circles around its despondent or otherwise mundane realities that the public generally grows indifferent to. Bearing this in mind, WISE teamed up in 2018 with New York-based organisation Facilitated Learning for Universal Sanitation and Hygiene (FLUSH) in endeavouring to effectively communicate to a broader audience the pressing issue of prioritising knowledge about sanitary health.
As a water and sanitation specialist in the international development industry, FLUSH’s founder Kimberly Worsham shares through its website, “The mission of FLUSH is to be a sanitation superhero. We intend to raise awareness of sanitation and hygiene in developed countries in order to create change around the world.” Since 2016, FLUSH has revitalised the learning of the history of sanitation by giving entertaining classes such as “The Long and Fascinating History of Toilets” to both a local and an international audience composed of students, professionals, volunteers, etc.
Together, WISE and FLUSH share the common goal to allow for greater public insight into the matters of sanitation and health, opening possibilities that will eventually lead to action by advocacy, donation or volunteering. Given the opportunity to concretely mobilise this shared goal, the joint objectives of these two organisations include facilitating local classes on the history of toilets in the context of Southeast Asia (namely Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia) and thus providing a regional platform for continuing education on sanitation work and supporting this work. While the project plans to start with toilet history, it will include further explorations into related topics such as environmental impact, climate change, toilet access and social equality and even human-centred toilet design; simultaneously, its hope is for more classes to be given in more cities, thus maximising its reach of influence.
Both organisations believe in the potential of word-of-mouth, as, according to FLUSH’s experience, people who have joined previous classes shared the newfound knowledge to a varied network of friends and family; in holding at least four classes in three countries in Southeast Asia, for example, the impact hopes to reach approximately five hundred people. Through this endeavour, more people are made to grasp the importance of sanitation and how it affects hygiene, health and lifestyle, and the realities of sanitation problems in developing countries. To raise awareness doubly means to change the perceptions of people towards sanitation and encourage discourse more actively in a wider, public setting. WISE and FLUSH are collaborating to make this happen.
Carla Cruz is a writer who was mobilised through UNV’s Online Volunteering Service.