In any post-disaster environment, the risks of disease spreading and infections increase. The massive earthquake which hit the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal in May 2015 destroyed much of the local infrastructure, including toilets, washing and clean drinking water systems, returning parts of the district to open defecation zones (Sindhupalchok already suffered a lot of damage through the earthquake of April 2015 with epicentre in Gorkha). PHASE Nepal has worked quickly and effectively with six village development committees (Baramchi, Selang, Hagam, Jalbire, Fulpinkot and Pantang) to rebuild and rehabilitate water assets, putting the district back on track to become open defecation free (ODF) once again. Some of these projects are completed, some are ongoing.
Our staff ran a three day ToT – training of trainers – programme (July14-16 2016) in Sukute, Sindhupalchok to raise awareness of the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH), working with 18 local social mobilizers, technical skilled workers and six interns. The training programme focused on problems frequently encountered in the community and which, once effectively tackled, would significantly improve health, hygiene and sanitation.
Walk of shame and combating taboos
Community Lead Total Sanitation (CLTS) teaches the basic principles of eliminating open defecation; keeping toilets clean, the importance of sanitation and making community members face their own actions via a village ‘walk of shame’ around the open defecation zones.
Communicating these messages sensitively is a challenge which has made many previous WASH programmes redundant. In this district, we found a number of initiated projects, which had not continued once the organisations had left. PHASE Nepal’s training to educate and promote hygiene in rural area builds on traditional beliefs, practices and taboos to improve hygiene. Soap and water is not always available for washing and ashes and water for example, are offered as an alternative; this can also be used to wash clothes. Questions such as why should I wash my hands, when and how may arise when field staff are training community members. The course emphasised cleanliness as an individual responsibility and how children can promote hygiene and safe sanitation.
To support the clean drinking water process, local community workers learned how test water for the presence of coli, other properties and minerals. By giving local community members the tools and knowledge to manage their own water assets, PHASE Nepal is providing the foundations for improved health in the region.
“By raising the local capacity to promote hygiene a sanitation in the community, we help to create a sustainable system for reducing the spread of communicable diseases, safe water consumption and access to clean drinking water,” PHASE Nepal project leaders reported.
This project is funded by Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe and will run until December 2016.