Posts

Sanitation in SomaliaLack of access to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is inextricably linked to extreme poverty around the globe. Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, has long faced issues relating to the provision of adequate sanitation services for its citizens. Though Somalia struggles with WASH, several organizations have vastly improved sanitation in the country, positively impacting education and health. The following are seven facts about sanitation in Somalia.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Somalia

  1. Improved water sources make education accessible. Currently, only 45 percent of Somalia’s population has access to improved water sources. Lack of access to clean water prevents children from attending school because they are forced to spend much of their day collecting water. Mercy-USA is working to tackle this water crisis and give children the chance to have the education they deserve. Since 1997, the organization has dug and repaired about 670 wells, benefiting more than 750,000 people in Somalia.
  2. Waterborne diseases result in numerous deaths per year. Waterborne illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea are the primary cause of 23 percent of deaths in children under 5 and are strongly correlated with child malnutrition. UNICEF is working to improve access to sanitation facilities and provide integrated interventions that reduce incidences of diarrhea.
  3. Improving health through hygiene education. Diseases often spread due to inadequate knowledge surrounding hygienic practices. Action Against Hunger launched a cholera prevention program in Somalia, which provided communities with hygiene education sessions. These sessions helped people understand the importance of handwashing, properly disposing of trash, and how to keep latrines clean.
  4. Drought kills cattle and leads to contaminated water sources, but UNICEF is helping. Recently, Somalia experienced a drought that had extremely adverse effects on much of the population. For many, farming is vital to their existence. The drought forced many farmers to migrate with their animals in search of water, but many animals died in travel. With so many animal carcasses littering Somalia, rainfall posed a threat of contamination to their water sources. In Somaliland and Puntland, UNICEF and WFP responded to the drought to provide food and water vouchers to about 76,000 people, saving those with compromised livelihoods.
  5. Reducing open defecation can improve health. The prevalence of open defecation in rural areas is estimated at 56 percent, leading to a vicious cycle of illness as it pollutes water that people use for cooking, cleaning and drinking. While many parts of Somalia experienced a massive outbreak of cholera after a severe drought (affecting more than 80,000 people), there were no cases in the village of Luqgodey where a UNICEF-supported program put an end to open defecation.
  6. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits are improving women’s health. In Somalia, there continues to be taboo surrounding menstruation. In addition, some women only have access to cloth rags that restrict movement and are unsanitary because they have a limited source of water. The ELRHA sent 2,000 MHM kits to various countries, including Somalia, to help tackle this issue.
  7. Recent periods of drought have displaced over 1 million people. A severe drought in 2017 displaced 1.5 million people in Somalia and almost led to a famine. Thankfully, UNICEF provided safe drinking water to 1.8 million people, along with other critical interventions to meet the basic needs of Somali children and women affected by this drought.

While Somalia is still far from achieving proper sanitation for all who inhabit the country, these seven facts about sanitation in Somalia prove that hope is not lost and that, with help from philanthropic organizations around the world, sanitation can become accessible for all.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Rwanda
Rwanda is a developing country located in central Africa. After a genocide left Rwanda in extreme poverty, the country is fighting to improve living conditions and life expectancy. Here are seven facts about sanitation in Rwanda.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Rwanda

  1. There are not enough wells in rural areas of Rwanda. Millions of women and children choose to walk over three miles a day to collect water for their families in order to sustain themselves. Most nearby water sources have experienced contamination. In the year 2000, 45 percent of the population had access to safely managed and basic drinking water. The number has now risen to 58 percent with the help of organizations like The Water Project and Charity Water to build wells.
  2. Waste management solutions can be simple and effective. Rwanda is turning the fecal waste from latrine pits into fertilizer and selling it to farmers. This is preventing the collection of the waste in ponds that later flood back into the communities during the rainy season.
  3. In 2000, just over 1 percent of the Rwandan population had proper handwashing facilities. Organizations like UNICEF have been working on educating communities about the importance of handwashing with soap. Its tactics include media campaigns and outreach programs. It increased the number of Rwandan’s with proper handwashing facilities to 5 percent of the population in 2017.
  4. Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to fight diseases that poor sanitation causes. One of the leading causes of death in Rwanda is diarrheal diseases, which is responsible for 8 percent of all deaths among those under 5 years old. This is easily preventable in any country when its citizens receive proper WASH education.
  5. Rwanda’s government signed agreements in 2019 with the African Development Bank to receive a loan of $115 million to support water infrastructure within the country. This has been one of the latest steps since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for a focus on water and sanitation. The United Nations adopted this agenda in 2015 with its sixth goal being to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
  6. Young girls miss school every month while menstruating. This is due to many Rwandans considering menstruation taboo, leading to a lack of resources and education. The Sustainable Health Enterprise (SHE) is offering programs that distribute eco-friendly pads and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) training after school. Additionally, SHE’s campaign for menstrual hygiene awareness reached nearly 1,000 students in eight schools in 2013. Moreover, it reached 4.3 million people throughout the country in 2019.
  7. Sanitation in Rwanda is improving. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Rwanda continues to provide new ways of sanitation for its people. In March 2020, the country began installing hand-washing stations at bus stops in the capital of Kigali to prevent the spread of the virus.

Proper sanitation is necessary for economic development. Access to clean water and education on basic hygienic practices directly affects the rest of a country’s ability to thrive. Many cost-benefit analysis studies show that poor sanitation leads to a larger economic loss. As a result, developing countries should put preventative measures in place.

Molly Moline
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa that lies between the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers with a population of 14.86 million. In the 20th century, Zimbabwe’s sanitation infrastructure was quite stable, but due to economic collapse resulting from the loss of public sector and donor investments in the early 2000s, the country’s sanitation development came to a halt and it began to degrade. Thousands of people living in Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas lost access to not only clean drinking water, but also proper sanitation. Zimbabwe’s constitution states that every person has the right to “safe, clean, and potable water,” but the country still has a lot of work to do to make that statement come true. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Zimbabwe.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Zimbabwe

  1. Water coverage has been increasing since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Water coverage has increased from 32 percent to 56 percent in the 20 years after the nation gained independence. This increase in coverage has also directly improved overall sanitation access, from 28 percent to 56 percent. Two main elements propelled the growth of the country’s sanitation infrastructure: interest in urban and commercial farming and implementation of innovative technologies by the Integrated Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (IRWSSP). Both endeavors helped drive urban sanitation coverage to 90 percent up until the late 1990s when the economic crisis caused the coverage to decline.
  2. The rural sanitation infrastructure is still vastly underdeveloped. When comparing the rural system to the urban infrastructure of sanitation in Zimbabwe, flushing toilets, running water and access to clean drinking water is uncommon in rural areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 66 percent of the population in more affluent areas of Zimbabwe has access to basic sanitation, while only 13 percent of the population in poor areas has basic sanitation access. Further, while Zimbabwe’s population does receive a small number of subsidies from the government to improve sanitation, 80 percent goes to the urban, more wealthy areas.
  3. Studies prove sanitation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas is significantly worse. According to a 2017 report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), 91.5 percent of urban households have properly flushing toilets, while just 36.8 percent of households in rural areas are without toilets. These rural areas do not have reliable access to water pipelines, and therefore, most of the population relies on open defecation. A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey study estimated that 42 percent of the rural population in Zimbabwe still uses open defecation. In order to bring the rural areas up to the standards of the urban areas, the government would need to spend $90 million per year on sanitation hardware.
  4. In 2010, the Zimbabwe National Action Committee created its Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector. WASH has helped to combine Zimbabwe’s urban and rural sanitization efforts to gain a more organized action plan on how to improve sanitation, restore leadership throughout urban and rural areas, institutionalize government responsibilities and support sector development. So far, WASH has aided in the doubling of water production in 14 small towns, worked with UNICEF to drill boreholes, creating access to more water. The WASH program has also worked on the Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (PHHE) initiative, supporting 432 sanitation action groups and 388 health clubs.
  5. Sanitation in Zimbabwe currently aims to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The government recently approved a gender-sensitive Sanitation and Hygiene Policy that aims to ensure Zimbabwe is defecation free by 2030. To achieve this goal, the Sanitation Focused on Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (SafPHHE) has been implemented throughout 45 rural districts in Zimbabwe. SafPHHE will produce a framework to improve sustainable and reliable sanitation services. By spreading awareness of good hygiene behavior and increasing sanitation coverage, open defecation rates should reduce in accordance with the SDGs.
  6. Australian aid has been supporting efforts to improve sanitation in Zimbabwe. CARE, an Australian-based international aid organization, works around the world but is also helping communities in Zimbabwe to build toilets and hand-washing facilities. About 6,671 students now have access to 2,870 new toilets with handwashing facilities in schools and villages in Zimbabwe.
  7. Feminine hygiene and sanitation in Zimbabwe are sub-par. Many girls and women in Zimbabwe, ages 15 to 29 years old, do not have access to proper sanitary wear, or Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). This lack of feminine hygiene poses health risks not only to women but also to their communities. Girls miss four to five days of school because of menstrual cycles, according to CARE. According to an article published by Jamba, MHM is clouded in cultural taboos, constraints and unhygienic practices that further cause health-related dangers for women and girls. 
  8. Households in Zimbabwe rely on donor-drilled boreholes for the water supply. While these boreholes do supply water, they are typically highly unsanitary. Specifically, cholera broke out in 2018, killing 30 people. Further, people sometimes use the boreholes as extortion for financial gain, or otherwise access the water.
  9. Local and national corruption further exacerbate the issue of sanitation in Zimbabwe. In the capital city of Harare, the water management system charges residents for water even though the water does not run properly and is contaminated. Further, the government admits that it does not use the revenue to maintain and improve the quality of the water. The Export-Import Bank of China provided Zimbabwe’s government a $144 million loan with no results in sanitation improvements. According to the Human Rights Watch, solutions include the government using a sliding-scale for the residents’ water supply cost and investing in sanitation and water strategies, such as building toilets, pit latrines and uncontaminated boreholes.
  10. In 2014, Zimbabwe’s government made a public pledge to create and sustain a sanitation and hygiene policy. The government anticipates improvements aligned with the SDGs by keeping rural water supply functioning long-term, improving the reliability of the urban water supply, rehabilitating public latrines, emptying the latrines when they are full and reusing wastewater. It was the plan to achieve the goals by 2015, but with clear corruption and without proper funding, it may take some time for Zimbabwe to reach its goals.

Zimbabwe has an intense need for sanitation improvements in both urban and rural areas of the country. These 10 facts outline the current reality of sanitation in Zimbabwe. In aiming to achieve the SDGs and more, the country can change in a way to allow people to lead healthy and safe lives.

– Marlee Septak
Photo: Unsplash

Menstrual Health in AfricaMenstruation is a process that every woman must go through, making it a relatively normal topic of discussion in the U.S. However, this is not the case in developing areas, including Africa. Due to a lack of education, proper hygiene and sanitation practices, menstrual health in Africa struggles to improve. Fortunately, several organizations are working to improve the conditions of menstrual hygiene management.

 

Menstrual Health in Africa

Menstrual hygiene management, also known as MHM, encompasses puberty education and awareness, MHM product solutions (such as pads or tampons) and sanitation. These things, combined with the community and its influencers, shape young girls’ journeys through puberty.

Kenya, for example, offers the following statistics on menstrual health:

  • 50 percent of girls openly discuss menstruation at home.
  • 32 percent of rural schools have a private place for girls to change their menstrual product.
  • 12 percent of girls feel comfortable discussing menstruation with their mothers.
  • Two out of three pad users received them from sexual partners.
  • One in four girls does not associate menstruation with pregnancy.

From these facts, it is clear that there is a disconnect between the awareness of menstrual health and the tools these girls are provided with to deal with menstruation. Menstruation health enablers include education and awareness, access to products, access to sanitation and policy. These four categories determine how certain areas or countries prioritize menstrual health.

In Africa, one of the largest reasons girls miss school is because of menstruation. When young girls don’t have access to sanitary pads, they often choose to miss school or leave early. Many organizations are working to help mend this disconnect.

 

Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT)

SAT works to improve universal systems for sexual and reproductive health and rights for women in eastern and southern Africa. It does this by pushing for gender equality, community ownership and the agency and aspiration of young girls. For the last twenty years, SAT has worked with local communities, helping to strengthen them enough to improve their response to the HIV epidemic and improve their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Its approach helps:

  • Identify its communities better by identifying access to equitable and inclusive health systems.
  • Understand how to invest for impact by identifying low-cost, high-impact solutions.
  • Know how to mobilize for change by mobilizing stakeholders.
  • Learn, monitor and evaluate by promoting a continuous learning process.

Femme International

Femme International believes in empowering women through education by breaking global, menstrual taboos. It also attacks gender disparity by addressing menstrual health and hygienic concerns. It believes that a lack of knowledge is the reason behind the circulation of menstrual myths that continue to shame women globally.

Its most recent success has been with the Twaweza Program, which translates to “we can” in Swahili, that is working in Kenya and Tanzania. The program is taking an education-based approach to tackle menstrual health in Africa.

The program contains the following educational aims and objectives:

  1. Increasing the knowledge of feminine health and hygiene, which is done through interactive activities and discussions and providing accurate answers to people’s questions.
  2. Reducing the rate of girls missing school, which is done through boosting girls’ confidence and providing students with its Femme kits.
  3. Breaking down reproductive taboos, which is done through debunking myths, creating a comfortable conversational environment and opening up conversations with men about women’s health.

Globally, some cultures have developed negative mindsets about menstrual health. With the help of the above organizations and the distribution of proper resources, menstrual health in Africa will continue to improve.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr