LETTERS

HAND WASHING
I am writing in response to John Budge’s review of Astier Almedom’s article ‘Recent developments in hygiene behaviour research’ which appeared in Tanzanian Affairs No 56. John Budge comments “one cannot help being surprised ….. by the naivete and glibness of experts, who, sitting in a room in London, with no doubt an adjoining toilet, discuss the importance of teaching African children to wash their hands … ”

I was based in Dodoma myself for three years and worked on the WaterAid programme as the Community Involvement and Hygiene Education Co-ordinator. I was responsible for liaising with Astier Almedom whilst she conducted her field trials, and can assure you that she was not discussing the importance of hand washing with other experts but with Tanzanian villagers and government field staff. WaterAid staff and those of our partners, the Tanzanian Government, work extremely hard. They are in the field, visiting and staying in villages, five-six days a week, most weeks of the year. All of the work they do is based on the full participation of the people who will benefit, and they employ a range of community development techniques to ensure the involvement of the whole community (some of which are mentioned in Dr Almedom’s article. The hygiene education component of the work is a prime example. The villagers are involved in assessing and prioritising the hygiene behaviours that should be targeted for change. Sanitation improvements are also discussed with villagers using a sanitation ladder, an exercise which stimulates discussion about the usefulness of making incremental improvements to latrines. This means that villagers can make changes at their own pace. WaterAid carries out hygiene education activities at the same time as providing clean water to a community. Whilst not the same level of service as ‘an adjoining toilet’, clean water is an invaluable resource for hand washing.

I am not writing purely in a professional capacity, but also as a member of the Britain-Tanzania Society since 1989. May I add that I find ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ an essential lifeline to events in Tanzania.
Julie Jarman
Advocacy Manager, WaterAid

Tanzanian Affairs’s review of my paper on recent developments in hygiene behaviour research was brought to my attention by Ms Julie Jarman of WaterAid with whom I had collaborated in 1994.

My paper describes the development of a field handbook ‘Hygiene Evaluation Procedure’ which has been published by the International Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC), Boston, 1996. Among the field studies which contributed to the handbook was the Dodoma Hygiene Evaluation Study. The results of that study are mentioned in my paper as examples of the value of involving rural women and children in discussions of health and hygiene as part of good planning and implementation of hygiene education projects. Looking at John Budge’s ‘review’ I am not sure that he has read my paper. This is the first task of any reviewer, to actually read and then comment. As it is I do not know which experts ‘sitting in London’ he is referring to. As an African woman with young children, I have no problems in emphasising the need to wash hands at ‘critical times’ with African children (or any other children) because it is a simple and effective way to prevent diarrhoeal disease which claims the lives of too many of our children. Where clean water is not available WaterAid and other agencies try to make it available as much as possible.

Your readers may be interested to know that the hygiene evaluation procedures handbook is already being used by WaterAid and its partners in the field as part of its ‘good practice’ package. In addition, UNICEF is disseminating it more widely by funding a French and Spanish translation of it.
Dr. Astier M Almedom
Medical Anthropologist

THE LANGI LANGUAGE
…… We have been invited by the Anglican Church, Diocese of Central Tanzania, to work on the language development, literacy and Bible translation project for the Langi (also known as kiRangi) language … .if any of your readers knows something about the Langi, be it from own experience or from other people’s writings we would be only too happy to hear from them …. Oliver and Dorothea Stegen, P 0 Box 1369, Dodoma

‘DYNAMITE DAN’
I am writing to ask whether there is anyone out there who knows anything at all about ‘Dynamite Dan’ – one of East Africa’s most colourful personalities. There may be a reader of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ who remembers him or a least can add to my very meagre but vividly clear memory of him. I know he was a big game hunter in Tanganyika after the first World War. I was told he was a remittance man, that he came from a ‘good’ family, had been educated at Winchester College and that his surname was Eldridge. I was six years old at the time and clearly remember Dan leading his game scouts and porters to Songea, where my father was then D. O. The procession was enormous, with men, sometimes two to a tusk, carrying a vast amount of ivory which was taken to the Boma for storage. Dynamite Dan was a wiry weather beaten man with a huge felt hat, a bushjacket with many pockets and a sort of khaki kilt which came to the top of his snake-crusher boots. He was as fascinated by the small fair haired child as she was by him. My parents found him an interesting guest though my father complained that his stock of sundowner whisky was depleted very rapidly. I can’t remember if they ever caught any escaping would-be German spies or what had happened to all that ivory or even what became of Dan but I’d love to find out.
Mrs Fiona Marsland
contact editor for contact details

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