icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Students Hygiene Clubs Sustain a Positive Change in Yemen’s Schools

A group of boys posing for a photo, smiling and holding brooms.

The hygiene club members launch a cleaning campaign in their school. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen. *Names have been changed to protect identities.

The hygiene club members launch a cleaning campaign in their school. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen. *Names have been changed to protect identities.

Equipped with brooms, buckets of soapy water, and broad smiles, hygiene club members begin to clean up their school in Lahj Governorate in Yemen. “The hygiene club always keeps the bathroom in my school clean. They even hung colorful hygiene posters in the bathroom. It looks beautiful,” says 8-year-old Sonia*, a primary school student.

“The bathroom used to be dirty and closed most of the time. My sister Sala*, six years old, and I had to walk back home during break time to use the bathroom and return to school to finish our classes. It was tiring,” adds Sonia.

two girls wearing headscarves posing for a picture
Sonia, 8, and her sister Sala, 6, use the bathroom in their school after it was cleaned by members of the hygiene club. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen

Over the past eight years, conflict-related damage and disruption have significantly impacted Yemeni children. More than 2.2 million school-age children in Yemen are out of school, while 5.9 million children in schools are not receiving quality education. This leaves over 8.6 million girls and boys in need of educational assistance, whether in or out of school. More than 2,700 schools have been destroyed, partially damaged, or utilized for non-educational purposes.

Like the education sector, the health sector in Yemen has also fallen into a state of decay, with only half of the hospitals in the country fully functional. Reports indicate that 2.2 million children in Yemen suffer from acute malnutrition, of which 540,000 children are at direct risk of death and life-threatening complications due to severe acute malnutrition. Children in Yemen continue to suffer from preventable deadly diseases, such as pneumonia and acute watery diarrhea.

A group of people sweeping the floor
Hygiene club members clean classrooms. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen.

CARE works to promote improved hygiene in schools and surrounding communities. To achieve this goal, CARE provided 2,000 basic hygiene kits and 1,000 consumable hygiene kits to displaced populations and vulnerable communities hosting them, in addition to promoting and maintaining behavioral change regarding good hygiene practices.

As part of hygiene promotion activities in Lahj Governorate, CARE staff launched several awareness campaigns for communities and school students, establishing seven hygiene clubs to encourage hygiene across schools, homes, and the broader community. The selected schools were also provided with stocks of materials and tools, such as brooms, water buckets, soap bars, detergents, rubbish bins, and educational posters, to keep the schools clean, support the appropriate use of sanitation facilities in schools, and ensure a healthy learning environment for children.

A small boy holding a soap on a running tap water
A student washes his hands in the school toilet after cleaning it. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Children can be changemakers in their schools, homes, and communities. If healthy hygiene and sanitation habits are formed as children, entire communities can be changed in a generation. Hygiene clubs are developed and managed voluntarily by students and teachers to promote good health practices and behavior change in their schools and the surrounding communities. These clubs are an excellent way to let students have hands-on experience carrying out critical hygiene practices, such as correct handwashing, proper use of latrines, and consuming safe water and food. Introducing children to these healthy habits should stay with them into adulthood, potentially reducing the spread of hygiene-related diseases.

Saeed Ali, a school principal, and hygiene club members use the provided cleaning materials and tools to keep their school clean. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen

“Before the intervention, our school didn’t have clean bathrooms due to the lack of hygiene materials and tools. As a result, students couldn’t use the school bathroom and had to go out to relieve themselves. Girls and students who live far away from the school are most likely to miss classes or drop out because of this,” says Saeed Ali, a school principal from Lahj Governorate. “Clean bathrooms and interesting health awareness activities in schools improve students’ attendance and performance.”

“The ongoing construction of latrines and handwashing facilities will further improve the environment, especially for primary and female students, and reduce drop-out rates,” he concludes.

Before and after pictures of a handwashing station
School handwashing station before (left) and after the intervention (right). Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen
A group of people in a classroom
Hygiene awareness activities in one of the selected schools in Al-Masamsir area, Lahj Governorate. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE Yemen
Back to Top