Anyway, I spoke with my colleague Kenny Rae, an engineer who works in our humanitarian response department, and he gave me a quick lesson on a of the few ways that Oxfam helps communities improve water quality in the hand-dug wells (usually less than one meter in diameter) commonly found in rural Senegal.
1: Protect the top
This hand dug well offers little protection from surface water run-off and contamination. Photo by Kenny Rae/Oxfam America.
Build a wall around the top of the well, with a reinforced concrete drainage apron around it. This will prevent surface water running into the well; particularly important where there are animal droppings around.
When I met Danfakha in Senegal last October, she said she had been working closely with Wally Cissokho of AKAD, who is in charge of promoting good hygiene practices as a means to avoid diseases. “We teach people how to use the hygiene kits, and sometime I show them how to use the kits when Wally is not there.”
Danfakha says that when people starting using the tippy-taps and treated water there were fewer cases of diarrhea in her village, Biatilaye. “We now wash our hands before eating, and we wash our clothes more now. Before, it was hard to get soap to wash our hands, but then Wally came and it is now easier to get soap.”
She says she decided to help promote better hygiene in her village as a volunteer. “I have been going with Wally to distribute the hygiene kits. I do it just to help, because we are all neighbors, and I like to help others.”
“It was not a long time ago that my husband passed away. So I am taking the opportunity to help other people instead of sitting home all alone in the house.”
Stevens recently returned from the Kolda region of Senegal which – like much of the western Sahel region of Africa – is experiencing a severe food crisis. This is the fourth of four blogs from the trip.
As photographer Holly Pickett and I traveled around the region of Kolda, Senegal, we noticed a powerful force at work in this emergency: the bond between mothers and children.
Fatoumata Dioum, the mother of two sons and two daughters, expressed the way that connection amplifies the pain of privation: “My only concern is how to buy food for my children. All the time, I’m worrying about food. When I go to bed, I worry about food. When I get up in the morning, I worry about food.”
But Holly and her camera captured something more: for many of the families caught in this crisis, the mother-child relationship also looks like one of the places where hope resides.
Stevens recently returned from the Kolda region of Senegal which – like much of the western Sahel region of Africa – is experiencing a severe food crisis. This is the third of four blogs from the trip.
Penda Balde and her husband Djibril Sylla are living in the grip of the Sahel food crisis. Their home, which they share with their children and grandchildren, is in Fafacourou, one of countless villages in Senegal where farmers lost their last harvest to the erratic rains of 2011. Their stocks of food ran out many months ago.
Residents of Fafacourou carry home hygiene kits—a collection of materials designed to help them protect their families' health. Photo: Holly Pickett/Oxfam
Which is why they welcomed a recent distribution of soap, bleach, and scrub brushes.
If you live in a place where clean drinking water and soap are everywhere, and where a case of waterborne disease is merely an inconvenience—easily treated and cured—it may be hard to wrap your mind around why people experiencing hunger and malnutrition would see hygiene activities as a matter of urgency. But for Balde, it is obvious. “If you don’t respect hygiene, you can get diarrhea. If you have diarrhea, you become weak.”
Adults have to watch their heads as they walk from sandy school yard into classrooms at the Thiaroye Primary School in Pikine. Photo by Jeff Deutsch/Oxfam America.
Talk about a bad first day at a new job: Labisse Diop, head teacher at a primary school outside Dakar, Senegal, has a story few could top. At the beginning of the school year last fall, he showed up for work to find his school completely flooded. “I was really surprised…I said ‘this water can’t be removed, it’s too deep…’ and I asked myself why others who worked here before had not addressed the situation.”
Staff at the Thiaroye Primary School, in the city of Pikine, were already at work, pumping the water out of the school and into a drainage channel and away from the neighborhood. But they needed fuel to run the pumps – and they got it from an organization called Eau-Vie-Environnement (Water-Life-Environment, EVE for short). “Thanks to EVE, they made it easier by bringing fuel,” Diop says. Read the rest of this entry »
Last month I met a young man named Sady Civil in Port-au-Prince at a camp called Delmas 3 where he is an assistant public health promoter. His job is to teach people the importance of good hygiene as a means to avoid major disease outbreaks, which can kill just as many people as any earthquake.
When he first arrived, there were about 7,000 people living in Delmas 3. “It was very dirty, there were feces everywhere,” he says, walking along the main road next to the camp. On the day we visited workers were digging several large pits to install 16 new permanent latrines. This would make roughly one latrine for every 110 camp residents, still not enough, but an improvement.
Oxfam America is a member of Oxfam, an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in 94 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.
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