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close this bookGeneral Hygiene: Exposing Witches - Kenya (UNESCO-DANIDA - UNESCO, 2000, 40 p.)
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A product of a UNESCO-DANIDA workshop for the preparation
of post-literacy materials and radio programmes
for women and girls in Africa

Adapted from the booklet written at the national workshop
organized by UNESCO Chair, University of Nairobi and the Kenyan National
Commission for UNESCO

Written by L.K. Kithome and Q. Mboroki

Illustrated by Harrison Tinga and Roseline Aluora

Revised by
Section of Literacy and Non-formal Education
Division of Basic Education, UNESCO

Edited by Cynthia Joerger

Graphic design and layout by Charupan Jayanandana

First published in January 2000 by
the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
7 Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris

Opinions expressed in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO

This material may be reproduced in total or in part with appropriate acknowledgement to the authors and publishers.

Some other titles in this series

· From Tears to Cheers (Zambia) Women’s financial self-reliance

· Yaba’s Dream (Cote d’Ivoire) Exploitation of young girls employed as maids

· The Witch or the Sickman (Mali) Superstitions about goiters and their prevention

· Me, You And AIDS (Kenya) HIV/AIDS and its prevention

· Give Girls A Break (Gambia) Child marriage

· From Blindness to Cash (Malawi) Vegetable gardening business

· Stop This Violence (Kenya) Domestic violence and alcoholism

· The Challenge of Youth (Senegal) Sexual behaviour among young people

· Parents Need to Go to School (Benin) Literacy and basic education for adults

· The Secret of Happiness (Togo) Birth spacing

· Tade, the Good Example (Cote d’Ivoire) The importance of girls’ education

· No More Worms (Niger) Filtered water for healthy living

· Women’s Rights to Education (South Africa) Literacy for women

· And the Women Had A Break (Kenya) Water carrying and sharing housework

· The Little House (Burkina Faso) Promoting the use of latrines

For free copies, contact: Namtip Aksornkool
Section of Literacy and Non-formal Education, Basic Education Division
UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris, France
Fax: (33-1) 45-68-56-26 or (33-1)45-68-56-27


Political leaders and development specialists around the world have recognised that illiteracy - particularly among women - seriously undermines their education and development efforts. Many believe that literacy programmes need revision to render them relevant to women’s lives in today’s Africa. Relevant programmes determine whether women will stay in the programmes long enough to benefit fully from the information and skills they offer.

This post-literacy booklet is one of an ever-growing series of learning materials produced under UNESCO-DANIDA’s Special Project for Women and Girls in Africa. The series presents some sample of the products of the UNESCO Regional and their follow-up National Workshops which took place between 1997 and 2000 in Africa.

During these two-week workshops, African women and men involved in literacy work were introduced to the concept of gender sensitivity and to addressing gender equity issues through basic education. They had, before the workshops began, selected their target communities and carried out needs assessments. The analyses of these assessments at the workshops served as the basis for identifying the priority issues to be addressed in the booklets. Each writer worked on their chosen topic with the support and advice from the entire group and resource persons. The texts were also illustrated with simple line drawings by local illustrators.

The Literacy and Non-formal Education Section, Division of Basic Education of UNESCO edited the text and prepared the design-layout for the final product which will be distributed world-wide.

Though the booklets are intended for use with neo-literate women and out-of-school girls, the messages in the stories and the radio programme scripts that accompany them are also relevant for use as supplementary reading materials in formal schools for readers of both sexes.

The subjects of the booklets, based on the needs assessments, reflect a wide range of needs and conditions of African women - from Senegal to Kenya, from Mali to South Africa, from Niger to Malawi. A list of common concerns has emerged. These include: HIV-AIDS, domestic violence, the exploitation of girls employed as domestic servants, the lack of positive role models for women and girls, the economic potential of women through small business development, the negative consequences of child marriage, and the need for a more equal division of labour between men and women in the home.

Each booklet describes one way of treating a subject of high priority to African women. In the process, the authors have attempted to render the material gender-sensitive. They have tried to present African women and girls and their families in the African context and view the issues and problems from their perspective.

We hope these booklets will inspire readers, as they did their authors, to reflect on some of life’s common situations, problems and issues that ordinary women and men face every day. The questions accompanying each booklet will help readers ask questions and find answers to some of the issues which also touch their own lives. How the characters in these booklets cope with specific situations, their trials and tribulations, can serve as lessons for women and men living together in 21st Century Africa.

General Hygiene: Exposing Witches - Kenya

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1. Why did the villagers believe that witches were causing the illness and death in their village? What does a Diviner do?

2. Where do flies pick up the germs that cause diseases?

3. How do people get malaria? Can anything be done to prevent this disease?

4. What did the butcher do wrong?

5. Why is it dangerous to eat food without cooking it first?

6. Do people bathe and wash in the river in the village where you live? Should they do this?

7. What is the proper way to throw away garbage? What is recycling? What kinds of things can be recycled?

8. How can you tell if water contains germs that cause disease? How can you make it safe to drink?

9. Who are the real witches in this village?

10. What does the Health Officer mean when she tells the villagers they have the solutions to their problems? Do you have solutions to your own problems, too?

11. What do you think of the villagers’ decision to boycott people who do not obey the new rules about hygiene? Would something like this work in your village?

Back Cover

Written by Africans for Africans, this booklet is part of a growing series of booklets prepared during training workshops to produce gender-sensitive materials organized in the context of the DANIDA-UNESCO Special Project for Education of Girls And Women in Africa.

The workshops have been hailed as a great success by organizers and participants alike. They are an effort to respond to urgent issues and problems facing African women and men today. These booklets reflect the language, images, customs, social norms, attitudes and beliefs of real people whether they be nomads or villagers. They particularly try to help readers raise issues and find their own answers to their pressing needs.