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Improving community wellbeing through WASH

 

Shiromeda is a small neighbourhood located some six miles north of Addis Ababa. The area has a growing population and a recent construction of an Amref Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) facility is improving the health and wellbeing of the community. Before this, a lack of clean water and basic sanitation had a visible effect on hygiene practices and health.

Amref recently built a WASH complex in Shiromeda to improve community health as well as to reduce frequent outbreak of disease which had been rampant beforehand. In the past, there had been no toilet and water in the community and this brought untold suffering including frequent outbreak of diseases like cholera. Education was also disrupted because children could not go to school in time because they had to fetch water from distance neighbourhoods or nearby villages. 

Thanks to water facility, Shiromeda and neighbouring communities are now protected from current outbreak of cholera as well as the burden of diseases to many families. In addition, it has actually changed the health and economic situation of the community with improvements in hygiene and sanitation practices and a reduction of other waterborne diseases.

The facility is made up of six toilets: three for men and three for women, two showers and running water. An elected local WASH committee manage the facility on day to day basis on behalf of the community. They also liaise with relevant government services and support their community in improving and implementing better hygiene and sanitation practices. Aside from the health benefits, the WASH facility has also brought about some economic and social benefits and development in this neighbourhood. 

WASH facility Chairperson Mr Berhanu Pawlos, said: “we charge community members a small fee if they want to use more water than what is normally required or if they wish to spend more time for using our showers”. This money is used for maintenance and any excess is saved in the bank.  “In the future, if we have enough money in the bank, we can loan it to members at low interest rate or use it to expand community services,” he explained.

Even though Amref Ethiopia continues to provide capacity building and monitoring the use of these facilities, the main challenge facing this community is how to convince members to use them regularly. According to the facility chairperson, some people still practice open defecation and are not yet used to the modern facility provided by Amref.  But, hopefully, continuous sensitisation and behavioural change campaign will address the issue he said. There is a penalty in place for defaulters and this money is used to maintain and improve the facilities.

Commenting on the improvement to the community, Mr Pawlos said: “I would like to thank Amref for providing this facility to this neighbourhood. We are very happy with the numerous benefits this WASH facility has brought to Shiromeda and we hope Amref has the ability to extend their help to other communities in Addis and Ethiopia.”