The Ofirha Hand Washing and Hygiene Promotion Project was designed by Robert Ntalo, implemented by the Diocese of Torit and funded by HCSS. Church leaders, community elders and teachers were involved and they took responsibility to promote proper hygiene and sanitation within the project areas. They had a project implementation team that made sure the activities were launched and conducted correctly, and they raised awareness in the communities about sanitation. After the initial preparatory phase, setting up the project took about two months.
The project implementation team was created, work-plans developed and the team was taught how to run the activities. CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) facilitators from the Red Cross trained the project implementation team. Red Cross also implements sanitation projects in other areas of the state. Their staff were provided with transport and food during the training period. Once explanations are provided about the link between poor hygiene / sanitation and poor health, people become very interested. They were always eager to participate in the project activities and they tried to ensure that what has been learned is put into action.
Like many other rural areas in South Sudan, Ofirha has a problem of lack of safe and adequate water supply. This of course makes finding enough drinking water and washing hands difficult. And the communities in Ofirha will understandably tend to prioritise drinking over washing when there is insufficient water. More resources are needed to construct new water sources or repair broken down boreholes. They were provided with some soap but were instructed to continue to buy more of their own, and it is not always affordable.
This project, within the context of chronic conflicts and war in South Sudan, has been challenging. It was difficult to set it up, and there are complications with monitoring and sustaining the project activities.
The project locations are often inaccessible, and this meant that it was not possible to provide technical support to the project implementation team, to supervise the activities and monitor progress or to produce field reports. At one time, the people that were targeted by the project had to move out and structures such as hand washing facilities and latrines that were set up by the community were destroyed. External supervision had been planned but this also was not possible because of the on-going conflicts and instability within the project location.
However, they are currently in a period of relative stability and peace, so this would be a good opportunity to build new boreholes and make water more accessible, so that sanitation does not have to be pushed off their list of priorities.
Because of the community sensitisation meetings and health promotion activities to schools and market places, people will continue to have the information and knowledge that was shared. The project can be set up in other areas if there is peace and stability there. It is easy to mobilise the population and conduct sensitisations so that they can work together to improve their sanitation and hygiene status.