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Community engagement is key to contain ongoing cholera outbreak in Yemen

Story by Faten Shaem, Communication for Development Officer and Gabriel Galuak Kuiynin, Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF Sa’ada Field Office
Photography by Nabil Musfer, Communication for Development Consultant, UNICEF Sa’ada Field Office

Sa’ada, Yemen, 14 November 2018 - Saqayn district in Sa’ada governorate is one of the areas affected by the ongoing cholera outbreak in Yemen and one of the priority districts targeted by UNICEF cholera response plan. The district faces many issues, such as poorly maintained road infrastructure, insufficient access to clean drinking water and lack of water and sanitation systems. As a result, people are suffering from diarrhoeal diseases, with a total of 4,791 suspected cholera cases and 5,379 acute watery diarrhoea cases in the governorate since the beginning of the year.

Hygiene promoters delivering key messages on diarrhoeal diseases in Saqayn district, Sa’ada.

UNICEF continues to support all cholera-affected people with a comprehensive integrated package, including WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) lifesaving interventions and preventive activities. In Sa’ada, UNICEF WASH program recently rehabilitated a water point reaching 45,000 households and will soon install a water pipe network for all families to be able to have access to clean water.

Community engagement, through community volunteers and hygiene promoters, is also one of the ways UNICEF adopted to prevent epidemic diseases such as AWD/cholera from spreading further, as part of the scaled-up cholera response in Yemen. In Saqayn, UNICEF hygiene promoters and community volunteers use various approaches to reach out to the community members with lifesaving messages on hygiene and sanitation best practices. Their objective is to improve the understanding of basic hygiene practices and facilitate community engagement. To do so, the hygiene promoters and volunteers attend public gatherings or hold sensitization sessions in populated areas, such as market places.

Last month, they also met with the communities at the UNICEF cash transfer center where more than 100 beneficiaries received cash assistance to help them cope with the deteriorating economic situation. Amina Ali was one of the women beneficiating from UNICEF cash assistance. “We don’t have good sanitation infrastructure and we need more support. The efforts of the community volunteers are appreciated by the entire community and this is important for us to learn how to prevent and protect ourselves from diarrhoeal diseases,” she said.

Hygiene promoters holding awareness session during cash distribution in Saqayn.

In Sa’ada, UNICEF community volunteers are facing many challenges to reach out to their community members in remote locations, especially because of the poor road network and the recent increase in the number of displaced persons in the area. Nevertheless, they keep working hard, together with local partners, to engage with the population, through posters and brochures containing key messages on diarrhoeal diseases prevention and control and hygiene promotion activities.

One of UNICEF Communication for Development (C4D) partners in Sa’ada governorate is Building Foundation Development (BFD), a local community-based NGO. Since the beginning of the year, the 45 female hygiene promoters deployed by BFD reached out to 44,500 people (23,200 women and 21,300 men) in Saqayn.

Children receiving brochures with key messages on hygiene promotion.

UNICEF C4D cholera prevention activities are implemented thanks to the generous support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSRelief) and the United Arab Emirates, two committed partners in the fight against cholera in Yemen.



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