Waghimra zone is promoting hygiene and sanitation to prevent Acute Watery Diarrhea.
In Waghimra zone of Amhara region, out of a total of 122 kebeles in six rural project woredas, 95 kebeles equivalent to 2,411 villages, became open defecation free through the implementation of Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) Results Programme. However, non-Open defecation free kebeles have been experiencing a threat of communicable diseases resulted from lack of hygiene and sanitation.
Recently, one of the districts of the Waghimra zone has experienced Acute Watery Diarrhea. In Abergele Woreda/district, one of the implementation woredas of Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) Results Programme, a total of 65 cases have been reported as of 03 September 2016. Alemayehu Desta, Head of Abergele Woreda Health Office, said that before it was controlled, on average, three to four cases were reported per day.
“The cases reported were from kebeles which are not open defecation free. Based on this finding, we have started to mobilise households to construct and use toilets, wash their hands during critical times, and improve their water management practice at household level” added Alemayehu.
As a result of the commitment, the toilet coverage of the Woreda has reached to 94%. “Toilets have very critical role for preventing communicable diseases such as Acute Water Diarrhea. Applying the lesson from SSH4A project, we have raised the awareness of the community to construct toilets, if possible improve their toilets” said Yilema Worku, Waghimra zone Administrator.
In addition to the efforts made to construct household toilets in rural villages, the administration with its local government structure not only enforced the owners of the households in the emerging towns to construct and use toilets but also encouraged religious institutions, schools and government offices to construct improved toilets. As a result the demand for concrete toilet slab has increased.
Sanitation marketing centers are working to address slab demand and supply gap
To address the imbalance of demand and supply for the slabs, the woreda government took the responsibility to strengthen the sanitation marketing centre. If the centre is unable to deliver the required services on time, the administration will transfer additional members of the center from adjacent woredas.
This commitment has helped the administration to control the disease before it gets out of control. “We will keep promoting the construction of toilets; work hard to take the toilets to an improved level so that we have an open defecation free zone and healthy community” added Yilema.
The incident was considered as a blessing in disguise. Zewdu Aynadis, Community Hygiene and Sanitation Expert of the project, said “the incident of AWD in the Woreda is a good lesson for the zone, the region and the country since it has enhanced the commitment of all hygiene and sanitation stakeholders, particularly, the government in promoting handwashing behaviours and the construction of improved toilets, and increase demand for slabs”.