Good hygiene in Darfur cuts disease, improves education and builds peace
In general, unclean water and poor sanitation are a leading cause of child mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 5,000 children die daily from severe diarrhoea, which is spread through poor sanitation and hygiene.1
Girls lead the way on good hygiene practice in Darfur
Within the Darfur context, with over 2.5 million people displaced, living in crowded IDP camps, the threats associated with poor water and sanitation are significantly multiplied.
Yet, according to recent mortality and morbidity reports, no outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea or generally water borne diseases were recorded in the immediate past despite the overpopulation in the camps of Zalingie.
Particularly vulnerable, girls and women in Darfur continue to endure many hardships in their daily lives.
Despite these challenges women have accumulated an impressive store of health wisdom, being the ones to find water, to educate children in hygiene matters and to understand the impact of poor sanitation on health.
Caritas partners NCA focus on women and girls to promote better hygiene as they are most likely to share the message with the entire household.
Water point committees are also made up of women representatives who are trained to assert their specific needs and rights. The project also trains community leaders on gender in particular targeting improving the sharing of health and hygiene roles.
Access to clean water and the reduction to water-related diseases increases educational opportunities for young girls in Darfur. According to a recent UNICEF study, girls are 12 percent more likely to attend school if water is available within 15 minutes from home versus a one hour walk.
At any water point visited you can see children collecting water, interacting with each other regardless of their tribe or social strata. All children are free to come and collect water from either the host community or the IDPs camps and thereby friendships are formed that transcend tribal divides.
This small but noteworthy action is important step in fostering peaceful coexistence; as children can be the key to a future without hostilities.
1One Water and Sanitation (2004). Fast Facts – Evidence for Action, Advocacy paper No. 17. Accessed on May 27th, 2009 at www.one.org/campus/issues/water.pdf
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