Ali Ahmed, 36, is a father of eight children (4 males and 4 females). He lives in Afa Genaro kebele, Bambasi woreda of Benishangul-Gumuz region, where Amref Health Africa through Coca-Cola Africa Foundation funded RAIN project implements water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) intervention.
The Afa Genaro kebele where Ali lives in had very poor hygiene and sanitation, as a rampant practice of open defecation wouldn’t stop. Locals kept on relieving themselves in bushes and it was common to see children and even adults’ feces in open spaces nearby households. Proper handwashing after defecation was a rare practice and solid waste was thrown out to neighboring open spaces. This harmful behavior, causing community members (children in particular) suffer from recurrent attacks of diarrheal disease.
“We often fell sick as diarrheal disease was very common among children and adults. We would have to spend a large amount of money to pay for medication and transportation to and from the nearest health centers. We didn’t even recognize that the main reasons for the diarrheal diseases we suffered from was related to the lack of toilets and poor sanitation,” Ali said.
The onset of the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), the Coca-Cola Foundation funded WASH and socioeconomic empowerment project, has greatly changed this grim situation. As part of its Community Lead Total Sanitation and Hygiene (CLTSH) approach, the project has been raising the awareness of community members in Afa Genaro, which helped the kebele achieve open defecation free (ODF) status. “Following the hygiene and sanitation promotion activities carried out by Amref Health Africa and the continuous technical support at community level, we can now see positive changes happening in our locality. Keeping the momentum, we push to improve our kebele to a better place for our communities to live in,” said Arashid Hisan, an administrator in the Kebele
The knowledge, attitude and practice of community members towards sanitation and hygiene has shifted just months after Amref Health Africa started implementing the RAIN project. The positive outcomes have been felt at household level in all areas where this project was implemented. According to Ali, “We are now well aware that constructing our own toilets and using it properly is an effective means to curve our vulnerability to diseases”. He adds, “Now, there is no open defecation practice in our area. Proper hand washing has become our daily routine. As the result, diarrheal cases are decreasing. Thanks to Amref Health Africa”.
Ali and his wife Fatuma are determined to sustain the positive changes they are currently enjoying. They built their own toilet, painted it well and kept it clean. “We will never go back to our previous dire situation,” Fatuma affirmed. They even want to construct a better toilet with concrete slab floor and iron sheet roof.
Beyond educating the community, the RAIN project supported construction and rehabilitation of 140 toilets in three months after it implemented CLTSH.
Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia delivers all its WASH projects implementation in close collaboration with national and regional government counterparts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and most importantly with the communities.
Amref Health Africa teams up with African communities to create lasting health change.