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70 per cent of refugees in Imvepi Settlement have latrines

UNICEF supports proper sanitation for refugees in Uganda
© UGDA/2018/Sibiloni
A locally made handwashing facility also known as 'tippy-tap', is installed in a household compound in a refugee settlement.
By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi

“When we had just arrived in Uganda, we did not know anything about hygiene. We would go and defecate in the bush because that was the only available option,” says Idoru Arike, chairperson of hygiene promoters in Imvepi Refugee Settlement in Arua district.

Arike adds that children and adults would regularly suffer from diarrhea and dysentery resulting from poor hygiene habits like handwashing practice and lack of latrines.

“Now we know how to wash our hands. We also use the latrines which means fewer people get diarrhea,” he explains.

The situation in three villages of Imvepi is much better following hygiene promotion activities by Samaritan Purse on behalf of UNICEF. With funding from the Government of Japan, similar services were extended to three villages in Bidibidi refugee settlements in Yumbe district. In addition, communities have been trained to construct individual latrines as one of the way to promote the use of latrines.

Arike reveals that 70% of the villages they have worked in now have latrines and hand washing facilities.

Charles Driliga, a hygiene promoter calls for the expansion of the services and activities to other villages to realize the remaining 30% that does not have latrines.

“Our villages are role models. We should expand these services to the nearby villages,” Driliga further says. He is grateful to the Japanese government for the materials given to the communities to construct latrines and install hand washing facilities, adding that this has created impact and “people are yearning to have clean environments at all times.” Some of the materials given out according to Carl Peters Agen of Samaritan Purse are digging kits, logs, slabs, tarpaulins among others.

6,300 households in Arua and Yumbe districts were supported with access to latrines, sanitation and hygiene promotion as result of a grant from the Japanese Government. In addition, UNICEF supported the continuous set up of household and institutional infrastructure at community and institutional level.

Agen says improving sanitation and hygiene is a behavior change process which takes times but adds that they have achieved great success through awareness and hygiene promotion sessions.

He narrates that the project has identified role models who are extending the good practices to other refugees and host communities.

Working with Norwegian Refugee Council, the project also saw the construction of 10 latrine blocks in schools benefiting 2000 pupils and reducing latrine stance ratio from 1:150 to 1:20 in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Yumbe district.
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