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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>

1.8 Public education (Topic h)

Much public education and creation of awareness is needed both for the decision makers and the public at large in order to achieve sustainable wastewater and stormwater management, because the human elements can make the difference between success or failure in adapting technological innovations. It is vitally important to give public education on the health implications of sanitary disposal of wastes and stormwater, and the role that the people are required to play. For some time now, a number of African countries have tried to incorporate environmental education into the school curriculum in order to prepare their citizens for healthier lives in the next millennium.

In Uganda, only 50% of the established posts for extension staff is filled. The unfilled vacancies are due to poor conditions of service - basic salaries, fuel and other allowances for field work. As a result, necessary field surveys are not carried out, hence no hygiene and public education and follow-up support to bring about desired behaviour change.

The willingness-to-pay surveys conducted by consultants and NGOs in urban areas of many countries of Africa revealed that many urban householders were unaware that health and sanitation problems were often caused by their own poorly functioning and overflowing septic tanks. Jigui's Mobilisation and public education in Bamako, Mali (see Section 1.11.3) focuses on Cleanliness and sanitation.

In some countries the approach to public education is integrated for the water sector as a whole, including water saving, impact of wastewater collection and disposal. Some jingles are used on electronic media in public education. In Nigeria certain days of the week or month are fixed for sanitation activities.

School curricula are increasingly reflecting environmental education from primary to the university levels. UNESCO’s initiative in this area has been introduced in a number of countries. Table 1.17 shows that some East African countries, particularly Ethiopia recognize the importance of education through awareness building campaigns and advocacy for improved sanitation. The World Bank’s Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) accomplishes both public education and participatory action almost simultaneously in southern, eastern and to some extent western regions of Africa.

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