Central to our project here has been the construction of two latrines for the maternity ward and two new toilet blocks at the dispensary. Therefore, hospital patients and staff now have a hygienic and safe place to use the toilet, which will help prevent the spread of diseases. Additionally, pregnant women will no longer have to go outside to use the toilets. This will give them more privacy. The girls from the secondary school also have access to complete pregnancy tests at the dispensary, termly; we have now provided them with a clean and private place to do this. With the help of the community, we have built tippy taps outside the toilets, thereby providing hand washing facilities for those who use the latrines.
School Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene (SWASH) lessons at the primary and secondary schools have also contributed to improving good health in Iyembela and the surrounding sub-villages. We have taught the children about topics including nutrition, hand washing and treating drinking water, as well as running practical sessions such as a litter pick. The importance of this is that by teaching the children, we are providing them with education for life which will change the habits of a generation in Iyembela.
Furthermore, the children can pass this information on to their families at home, meaning the knowledge we teach will spread across the village. As part of our sessions at the secondary school, we have also taught the girls about the Global Development Goals, and hopefully inspired them to work towards achieving them in the future.
Raising awareness through action days and mobile awareness has made the biggest difference to improving health in the community, as we have been able to target a broader group of people. In particular, our first action day on hand washing has caused a clear change in habits in Iyembela, which is essential to improving health. Washing hands with soap regularly is the best way to prevent the spread of diseases, especially diarrhoea – an illness that 4000 people die from every day.
Ultimately, our work for the past 8 weeks has benefitted the community and improved living standards. Feedback from villagers about the WASH project has been hugely positive. They can see the difference that our work has made to health both in Iyembela and the sub-villages. The fact that we have been able to improve health here through construction and education proves that it is possible to achieve good health by 2030.