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UNICEF Community Volunteers sensitize population on lifesaving sanitation and hygiene practices

UNICEF Yemen/2018/Rasheed
© UNICEF Yemen/2018/Rasheed
Mohammed, a C4D Community Volunteer during a sensitization session with children on sanitation and hygiene practices in Markha Al-Sufla.

By Ansar Rasheed, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Aden Field Office, Yemen

Aden, Yemen, 26 August 2018 - Fatima rushes the harsh stony narrow path to catch up with her team. The determined woman is a UNICEF Communication For Development (C4D) Volunteer in Makrha Al-Sufla district, Shabwa Governorate in Yemen. In her district, she leads a team of 15 male and female community volunteers. Fatima is also the only woman in her village who finished high school.

Now a mother of three, Fatima happily recalls: “My father was always proud of me for being the first girl to have completed high school in our village. I always wanted to help my community and I was hoping to become a nurse, but I couldn’t go to nursing school. Nevertheless, my dream came true when I became a Community Volunteer for UNICEF four years ago”.

“Together with my team, we use different approaches to sensitize the communities on lifesaving sanitation and hygiene practices and to eliminate contagious illnesses. The “Stop Open Defecation” project is one of them. Through active community engagement and involvement of religious leaders, we have seen a significant change in community behavior and the quality of water sources has improved,” Fatima explains.

Although Markah Al-Sufla is one of the hardest places to reach in Shabwa governorate, that never stopped Fatima and the other community volunteers from driving long hours to meet and engage with communities. “Fatima is a role model. She really cares about her community. We always open our houses to her and other community volunteers because we trust them”, says Sheikh Said Abdulrab, community leader of Sharkha village. “Fatima and her team established a donation box in our village to fund small heath projects and thanks to these donations, many cases of cholera have been referred and treated on time,” adds Sheikh Said Abdulrab.

UNICEF Yemen/2018/Rasheed
© UNICEF Yemen/2018/Rasheed
Puppet theater shows, as one of the C4D approaches used by Fatima and her colleagues, are organized to promote hygiene practices to the communities so they can better protect themselves from contagious illnesses.

Religious leaders also recognize the importance of the Community Volunteers’ work to promote lifesaving practices. “C4D community volunteers do not only aim at promoting lifesaving practices, they also engage with us to identify what kind of existing health services, such as immunization campaigns, mobile clinics, maternal and prenatal care, we could enhance to keep our community members healthy,” says Hajj Mohsen, the Imam of Shakrah village masjid.

The C4D activities in Shabwa governorate are supported by DFID, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, which is a key partner of UNICEF in Yemen. The current intervention funded by the UK aims at enhancing the nutrition response for vulnerable children under five years of age and for pregnant and lactating women in seven districts within Abyan, Al-Dhale’e and Shabwa governorates in Yemen, in line with C4D to improve the knowledge and practices of the targeted communities on hygiene promotion, disease prevention and proper child feeding and caring practice.

Thanks to DFID support, 300 Community Volunteers have been trained to engage with communities in five hard to reach districts of Abyan, Dhale and Shabwa. In addition, 24 Outpatient Therapeutic Programs (OTPs) in targeted health facilities and five mobile clinics have been implemented in the three governorates, with another crucial objective to prevent and respond to epidemic outbreaks such as cholera and Acute Water Diarrhoea (AWD) in affected spots.



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