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UNICEF and religious leaders join efforts to increase community awareness about cholera

A female religious leader (Morshydat) during the training on cholera outreach and awareness raising organized by the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Guidance of Yemen on 6-7 November 2018, with support of UNICEF

By Abdulkhaliq Zainah, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Sana'a Sub-Office

Sana’a, Yemen, 12 November 2018 – Since the beginning of this year, there have been 242,849 suspected cholera cases reported, with 346 associated deaths in Yemen, with a total of 90 districts which never stopped reporting suspected cases since the beginning of the outbreak in October 2016. These latest figures signal the possibility of a third wave of the epidemic in one of the world’s most water-scarce countries where access to drinking water is extremely costly for the most vulnerable people.

In some efforts to help the population of Yemen to protect themselves against cholera and to reinforce community engagement, UNICEF Communication for Development team and the Ministry of Religious Endowments strengthened their partnership, deploying religious leaders in high priority districts to support community engagement through Friday prayers and community outreach activities to promote cholera preventive hygiene practices.

More recently, a training for 50 religious leaders has been held on 6-7 November in Sana’a, so that they can support cholera prevention interventions in 18 high-risk districts of Amran, Amanat Al-Asimah, Al Bayda, Dhamar and Sana’a governorates. This training will be later on completed by a mobile public awareness campaign conducting in 3 high-risk districts of Amanat Al-Asimah.

Religious leaders play a crucial role within their communities, actively disseminating cholera prevention messages and engaging communities on positive hygiene and sanitation practices.

During the two-day training, the present religious leaders were trained on cholera prevention and health risks for communities, Communication with Communities approaches and behavioral change strategies so that they can actively engage with their own communities once back in the respective areas. This training is complemented by a mobile public awareness campaign conducted in 3 high-risk districts of Amanat Al-Asimah governorate.

UNICEF mobile information and awareness campaign conducted in Amanat Al-Asimah governorate, with the support of the local authorities and the religious leaders.

UNICEF, with its partners on the ground, have scaled up their cholera preparedness and response plan, including WASH and health interventions and communication for behavioral change activities. About 3,500 community volunteers and religious leaders have been trained and deployed in cholera-affected areas in priority districts in the last months to deliver awareness messages to communities on cholera prevention and share best practices on handwashing, safe household water storage, safe cooking, proper waste disposal and care for a family member with suspected cholera.

Thanks to the help of UNICEF partners, in September alone, more than 830,000 people were reached through various cholera prevention communication activities conducted by 7,000 community mobilizers, including 2,000 religious leaders (1,470 Imams and 530 Morshydats, female religious leaders).

This activity is being implemented with the support of the Kuwait Fund, among other donors, to support the ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Endowments on engaging religious leaders to support cholera prevention interventions in all the high-risk districts.



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