How Hygiene Kits Allow Displaced Yemenis to Buy More Food
Nearly 16 million people in Yemen urgently need assistance to access water and sanitation (WASH) services
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Nearly 16 million people in Yemen urgently need assistance to access water and sanitation (WASH) services. Though access to clean and safe drinking water is crucial, it has been compounded by an ongoing war, mass displacement, sustained epidemics, and natural disasters. In fact, just one third of Yemenis are connected to a piped water network.
“Hygiene is essential to prevent diseases nowadays, but soap is expensive,” says sixty-year-old Abdullah Ahmed Hasan lives in Al Alili Camp.
Abdullah has one daughter, and spent many years working on a farm before he contracted tuberculosis.
“Our living conditions are harsh,” he explains. “Even though hygiene is essential to prevent diseases, soap is expensive. Before I was displaced, I had a job and could afford detergent and jerrycans, but now I can’t.”
Twenty-two-year-old Fatima Ahmed is living in a displacement camp with her husband and one-year-old son, and has grown “tired of the situation and the conflict.”
After four years in the camp, and with the soaring prices of soap, she was left choosing between nutritious meals for her family or their hygiene. At times, they simply “could not afford the cost of hand soap or laundry detergent.”
Now, thanks to a UNICEF project – in partnership with Taybah Foundation – supported by USAID, 300,000 people like Abdullah and Fatima have received basic hygiene kits that include: bars of hypoallergenic soap, concentrated laundry detergent, plastic combs with a mirror, cotton towels, a plastic jug for the toilet, a plastic bowl for washing clothes (20-liter capacity) and jerrycans made of BPA-free plastic.
“Now instead of buying soap, I can buy flour, potatoes, and other nutritious products,” Fatima says with a smile.
To promote household hygiene, UNICEF targets caregivers and educates them on the importance of washing their hands with soap at critical times to remove pathogens, e.g., before eating or feeding a child, prior to preparing food or cooking, and after changing diapers.
In addition, UNICEF trains community volunteers and mother groups on participatory methods for hygiene promotion (through in-house visits) and leads focus group discussions. Information, education, and communications materials are distributed to facilitate hygiene promotion activities.
With respect to household water treatment and safe storage activities, the focus is on water safety to avoid contamination during collection, transportation, and storage. Community volunteers and mother groups also focus on promoting the use of clean containers with a lid and a narrow neck to collect, transport, and store water and prevent contamination.
Radwan Abduljalil Ali Abdullah, assistant project officer for water and environmental sanitation in Al Khawkhah District, helps to distribute hygiene kits to displaced families.
“People are grateful and happy to have this support, as this issue has been a challenging obstacle for them to overcome on their own,” he says. “These kits make a tremendous difference in people’s lives since they could not afford these necessities. Being able to maintain proper hygiene has even significantly improved their livelihoods,” he concludes.