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Youth media group in Benin helps combat malaria

Women in Benin collect water from a well. Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
Women in Benin collect water from a well.

Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
April 6, 2010

Plan Benin’s Cobly Media Club has been helping clean up their local environment and prevent malaria by targeting 3 main water sources in the area.

Introduced in all Atacora secondary schools by Plan Benin in partnership with the Departmental Management of Secondary Education, the Media Club’s main mission is to produce media (both press and audiovisual) on what children, youth and their communities do to actively participate in their community’s development.

Children are vulnerable

During the rainy season in Benin, malaria is rife, and children under 5 years are particularly vulnerable. The children had noticed that the 3 main water sources in the area were surrounded by mosquitoes because they had not been cleaned.

So the Cobly Media Club children, together with other children from the village, organized a ‘healthy environment’ campaign that targeted the water sources – the school center’s large-diameter well, the manual pump in front of the youth center, and the well at the health center. They also decided to raise awareness about keeping the areas clean.

The importance of cleanliness

At the first well, everything was clean within 30 minutes. The group then moved on to the next well outside the youth center. This time, the team had backup from other children.

At the last pump at the health center, the children noticed that everything was dirty where it should have been clean, and as a result there were swarms of mosquitoes. As with the other sites, the children took time after cleaning to talk to the people who use the well to talk about the importance of cleanliness.

Preventing the spread of malaria

The children wrote a report on what they did and will present it to the community to help encourage similar behavior. They also took all the photos featured in this article themselves.

Beatrice, a 16 year-old member of the Media Club, said: “What we’ve done here needs to be systematic and encouraged by authorities…this sort of activity is helping to prevent the spread of malaria and other microbial diseases.”

Fati, a 13 year-old girl, added: “I’d like to say thanks to my friends in the Media Club for this good initiative. I promise to take part whenever they do activities like this.”

 

Learn more about Plan's malaria prevention and control programs