LOMÉ, Togo, 10 October 2011 - In October 2010, Togo experienced heavy seasonal rains which caused flooding in most parts of the country. Affecting more than 82, 000 people, the southern region of Maritime was amongst the hardest hit, as floods severely damaged agricultural land and water systems in the areas surrounding the capital city of Lomé.
|VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Anja Baron reports on preventative measures taken by local communities in Togo to protect against future waterborne diseases. Watch in RealPlayer|
Dr. Tagba Pellei, director of the health district n.5 in Lomé, discussed the ensuing problem of waterborne disease caused by last year’s floods.
“In 2010, we recorded many cases of diarrhoea because of floods,” he said. “Here, water comes mainly from boreholes. Children develop severe watery diarrhea and recurrent vomiting; those who are not treated properly die”
In order to prevent such prevalence of waterborne diseases, especially in times of flooding, UNICEF is providing water purification tablets, and sensitization activities which aim to promote safe sanitation and hygiene practices. The project, which was funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), has reached out to over 500,000 people in the Maritime Region.
|© UNICEF Togo 2011|
|With support from UNICEF, hygiene promoters from the Togolese Red Cross are visiting households to train families on how to treat water with chlorine tablets and explain basic hygiene practices.|
Abla Aziadouvo, lives in the quarter of Totsi in northern Maritime, a mother to five children, she recalled how her 12-month-old baby, Gladis, fell ill during the floods.
“When my child started suffering from diarrhoea I thought it was due to his teeth that were coming out,” she said. “We stayed in the health unit for one week, after that we went back home. After two days, health promoters came at our door and left us some chlorine tablets...to prevent my children from getting diarrheoa.”
A community effort
With support from UNICEF, hygiene promoters from the Togolese Red Cross visit households such as Abla’s to train families on how to treat water with chlorine tablets and on basic hygiene practices. All household members engage in the training, aided by flyers and posters which illustrate proper hygiene practices such as hand washing, water boiling and safe water storage. Training and the distribution of chlorine tablets are also held in front of private and communal water points and boreholes where promoters can access a larger part of the community.