Bringing Sanitation and dignity to a healthcare facility in East Darfur state

Clean water & Sanitation are necessities for life

Khamisa Mohamed
28 September 2021

Amina Ibrahim is a nurse at Maali Healthcare Facility in Assalaya locality in East Darfur state which provides primary healthcare services to 3,500 people from surrounding communities. The center offers out-patient treatment and has a clinic catering to an average of 100 patients daily. Until recently, this clinic had inadequate water and sanitation facilities. The patients were accessing drinking water from an open source and practiced open defecation (OD) making it difficult for clinic staff to maintain good sanitation practices. When asked about the impact on hygiene and sanitation, Ibrahim recalls how these conditions, “compromised health standards at the clinic and negatively impacted health outcomes in our community.”

The lack of adequate WASH facilities made Ibrahim’s work as a nurse difficult and risky.  She couldn’t deliver quality and safe healthcare services while putting the lives of patients especially vulnerable mothers and babies in danger.

After treating a patient, she needs to wash her hands properly with soap and treated water. Most of the time, this wasn’t possible because there was no water available

Amina Ibrahim

To mitigate this concerning situation, UNICEF’s WASH sector in East Darfur state conducted an assessment of WASH services in 6 healthcare facilities in two localities, Assalaya locality and El-Daein locality, to assess the consequences of poor sanitation and a lack of clean and regular water supply for both patients and health workers. As handwashing was flagged as one of the most important ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the assessment focused on lapses in WASH facilities that have ripple effects on health outcomes & health-seeking behavior of the community members. Cases of illness are caused by the poor condition of water supplies and sanitation. 

UNICEF successfully rehabilitated the existing water systems in the facility and as a result, improved basic sanitation for rural communities benefiting from Maali healthcare facility. Sanitation infrastructure including the toilets were improved, a hand-washing station was constructed to serve the community in response to the state-level COVID-19 prevention initiative and soap for handwashing and chlorine for disinfection and water treatment was made available. The community members were also sensitized through targeted community social mobilization while reinforcing adherence to WASH guidelines.

For nurses such as Amina Ibrahim who work directly with the community, the installation of accessible and reliable water and sanitation facilities is lifesaving.  When describing her life now, Amina said, ‘’ I am so happy. When health-care facilities are equipped with safe WASH services, members of the community are likely to visit them, and health workers can model good sanitation and hygiene practices. This is the story of a small community health facility making giants steps to advance their WASH status.”

We thank our partners at the Government of the Netherlands who offered their financial to help us work towards achieving the Key Results for Children.