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University’s e-learning course helping to save lives in developing world

A new e-learning course designed by Loughborough University is helping to tackle one of the biggest killers of children in the developing world.

More than 2.6 billion people still live without access to adequate sanitation facilities and safe drinking-water, resulting in 1.7 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year.  This is the main cause of malnutrition in children, and kills more under-fives than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

To try and raise awareness of the importance of good hygiene in the developing world, the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank has been developing ways of implementing sanitation projects at country scale.  As this would involve working with local and national governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and low-income communities, the WSP recognised the need to roll out their approach and recommendations through an effective, global training course.

The University’s Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) is a world-leading education and research institute. Part of the School of Civil and Building Engineering, the centre specialises in developing knowledge and capacity in water supply and sanitation in developing countries.  Given its expertise in international course design and delivery, it was approached by WSP to help.

The WEDC team created a short e-learning course delivered using a variety of media, including slide presentations, film clips, animations, photography and graphics that takes only a few hours to complete.  Since its launch in February it has attracted more than 900 participants from over 100 countries.

WEDC’s Rod Shaw, designer of the course, said: "We had hoped that the course would do well but the numbers and the reach we have achieved has exceeded our expectations.  Originally we suspected that it would only be suitable for countries with fast broadband connections, but we have participants studying in remote corners of the globe with few reported access problems.  It is fantastic to know that this course is ultimately helping to save lives.”

A French version of the course is currently being developed and is due for release later this year.