Last year, we shared a story of a partnership between Grochem and Unicef NZ to support a ‘water, sanitation and hygiene in schools’ (WASH) project in the Penama province, in Vanuatu starting back in 2017.

The WASH in Schools project aims to reduce sickness and arm children with safe hygiene practices which they can carry from school into their homes, with a flow-on effect that will benefit the community for generations to come. It means installing safe water and sanitation equipment in schools across the Penama province of Vanuatu, and instilling a culture of hygiene and sanitation practices, so that children can stay healthy while going through school and complete their education.

Last year Grochem raised $111,000 for the project with some additional contributions from the Norway based company Nordox, and the NZ government. To date it brings the project fundraising efforts over the last two years to $213,000. This year marks the third year that Grochem will be fundraising for this initiative, and thanks to growers in the industry purchasing Nordox, a disease control solution, they are confident that it will be their most successful year yet.

So why did Grochem decide to team up with Unicef NZ?

With hundreds of Recognised Seasonal Employees (RSEs) coming from Vanuatu every year to assist NZ growers with their harvest periods, Grochem recognised the value they provide the industry. These RSEs are leaving their families for long periods of time every year to help our horticulture sector get through one of the most challenging times of the year, and so Grochem wanted to support their communities back home.

One thing that really struck the Grochem team, was that many of the children of the communities where the Vanuatu RSE workers came from, did not have some of the basic things we take for granted every day, namely access to fresh water and flushing toilets at school. When Grochem found out about the 5-year water, hygiene and sanitation Unicef NZ programme for schools in the Penama province, they knew that this was the project that Grochem should be involved in.

In this past year, it’s been especially rewarding for the team at Grochem to see that their fundraising efforts, and the support from growers, have allowed for a lot of progress to be made in the WASH in Schools programme. Just some of the developments include:

  • Solid and safe ablution blocks have been built in many schools in the Penama province. This of course is a great improvement to the hole in the ground and a flushing bucket that many children are used to, and it means fewer children will be off school from illness due to poor sanitation.
  • Some schools have been provided with basic facilities, which will be eventually replaced by proper ablution blocks. The new basic facilities allow children to get used to a new way of doing things while providing an immediate improvement in their way of life.
  • Teachers, caregivers and students are being trained on how to improve their sanitation and hygiene practises through activities such as handwashing sessions and menstrual hygiene management awareness.

Grochem are pleased to work with UNICEF this year with the project to see what further improvements can be made to the lives of the Vanuatu children and their families.

If you’d like to support Grochem and the work that Unicef NZ is doing in Vanuatu, you can contribute through the purchase of Nordox, the best choice in quality copper, in the months of May and June from leading retailers. In doing so, $10 will go directly to the WASH in Schools programme, with the promise that many more school children will be able to benefit from having clean water and bathroom facilities, have greater attendance at school, and with an education, children are offered a way out of poverty.