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Hygiene promoters boost sanitation and hygiene in South Sudanese refugee settlements

© UNICEF Uganda
A hygiene promoter teaches a young refugee boy how to wash hands with soap in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement.

By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi

Silvano Abure, 50 year old welcomes us into a clean waiting shade he has constructed as part of his home in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district. In his visibly swept compound, there is a drying rack and a chain for drying clothes. Meters away, he has constructed a latrine with a handwashing facility, locally known as tippy tap. The small jerry cans and soap used to promote hand washing have been provided by UNICEF, thanks to UKaid.

“When we arrived here. The sanitation was not good. People were defecating everywhere. These people have done a good job to teach us proper hygiene,” says Abure while referring to a representative from Danish Refugee Council (DRC) who was with us. DRC is a UNICEF implementing partner in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene.

With funding from UKaid, UNICEF through DRC is sensitising the refugees about sanitation and hygiene with a greater focus on household latrine construction.  The sanitation campaign carried out through hygiene promoters also includes messages on malaria prevention, safe excreta disposal, hand washing practices ad safe water usage.

Abure explains that after the sensitisation, he has also constructed a small latrine for his children since they cannot utilise the one for adults. “DRC did an assessment in the settlement after which they supported us to construct the toilets by giving us logs and slabs. They have also given us poles, nails to fence off the facility,” he added.

Buckets were also provided to ensure that latrines are washed regularly. Demonstrating to us how the tippy tap works, Abure said he has also trained his family to always wash their hands and keep the home clean. As a result of the hygiene promotion, Abure says none of his family member has fallen sick due to poor hygiene or even suffered from diarrhoea. He adds that DRC has also trained them to construct rubbish pits to dispose of the garbage. Abure is not alone. He is among 109,600 South Sudanese refugees who have benefited from hand washing facilities.

The average household latrine coverage in Bidi Bidi stands at 11 per cent while communal latrine coverage is at 44 per cent. .

Peter Ogotre WASH officer DRC said communal latrines are being decommissioned as a way of preventing diseases. DRC is continuously encouraging households to construct individual latrines and is providing brick moulds to enable the refugees make bricks.

Regarding access to water in the settlement, Ogotre said the refugees access it through bore holes, tanks and taps. Tunda Edward, 36 says his house is just a stone throw away from the motorised water system. “UNICEF is playing a big role to provide us with water. Water is life. The good thing is there is a team of people selected to take care of these facilities so that they are not misused,” he explains with a smile. At the time of the visit, Tunda’s wife had fetched three jerry cans plus two small ones.

Through Water Mission Uganda, UNICEF has90 per cent completed the installation of a motorised water system in Zone 1 in Bidi Bidi. Water quality monitoring continues across the settlements with over 90 per cent positive results at household level.

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