Two decades of conflict in South Sudan have devastated people’s access and knowledge of basic healthcare and hygiene. UNICEF has reported that only 13 per cent of people in South Sudan have access to adequate sanitation facilities and a third of all children under the age of five suffer from diarrhoea, something that is often life threatening but can also be easily prevented. The generosity of our donors has enabled Health Care South Sudan to support grassroots projects that drastically improve sanitation making a real and lasting difference.
Located 35km west of the town of Torit in Eastern Equatoria, the six villages of Ofirha are relatively isolated from developed centres in the region. The Diocese of Torit had identified a need in the area for support with basic healthcare, education and food security.
Many people within Ofirha share their accommodation and drinking water sources with animals. Prior to the projects implementation the community had no latrines with untreated waste often making its way into drinking water sources. Cholera has always been prevalent in the county.
The Handwashing and Hygiene Project that Health Care South Sudan have been supporting has been designed to deliver grassroots training to promote preventative measures against cholera and other waterborne diseases with a target to reduce diarrheal diseases in the community by 10% over the 12-month implementation of the project.
The project has provided training on basic hygiene, water related diseases, prevention of water and hygiene related diseases including information about the transmission of diseases and the importance sanitation through sweeping compounds and keeping animals in a separate place. This has been delivered through workshops and practical application in the community, for example the digging of pit latrines and construction of simple handwashing facilities.
The project has strengthened local knowledge about the importance of handwashing and hygiene training more people to effectively and efficiently oversee these activities. Alongside the ongoing training handwashing materials have been distributed amongst the local community.
The generous support of our donors has enabled us to help make this grassroots project a success:
• Local reports that hand washing is now routine amongst the community
• People are digging pit latrines and rubbish pits in all of the six villages of Ofirha
• A recent outbreak of cholera in a neighbouring community did not affect Ofirha evidencing results from the training we have supported
• Community evaluation has recognised the project’s benefits and recommended that hygiene practices and training continue
• Many of those who received initial training are now acting as trainers within the community ensuring lasting benefits from the project
Our continued work
We want to continue our successful support for the people of South Sudan and indeed there is much more that we want to look at helping the Ofirha community with. They have highlighted the following barriers to better hygiene in the community:
• Lack of access to construction materials for toilets
• No access to running water sources during the dry season with many people forced to collect water from pools where they still have to share water with animals
• Two broken bore wells and an identified need for four new bore wells to provide access to drinking water for the community