Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services
When Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti’s southern peninsula in October 2016, it also damaged or destroyed much of the new WASH infrastructure at the 60 schools IMA World Health supports through the Healthy Schools, Successful Children Project. Through this project, IMA and member agency Episcopal Relief & Development work together to encourage healthy WASH behaviors and to build latrines, clean water reservoirs and handwashing stations.
IMA acted quickly to help the schools repair and rebuild. IMA also responded to a rapid increase in cholera by distributing WASH materials and water filters in schools. In a true display of resiliency, all of the project schools were open and educating children again by mid-January, less than four months after the hurricane.
Our WASH work supports our larger efforts in Haiti to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, which disproportionately affect those who lack access to clean water and sanitation. These, plus healthy hygiene practices like proper hand washing, can prevent the spread of some NTDs like soil transmitted helminths or intestinal worms. Healthy WASH behaviors also correlate with healthy growth and development, school attendance and educational success for children.
A young man uses the newly built rain catchment system to wash his hands in Bassa, Nord Ubangi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Crystal Stafford
The Nord Ubangi WASH team puts the finishing touches on the new Cistern in Bassa, Nord Ubangi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Crystal Stafford
WASH is also a notable component of the Access to Primary Health Care Project, or ASSP, which aims to increase access to basic health care to a population of 8.9 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With funding from the U.K.’s Department for International Development, ASSP works within communities to support the national Healthy Villages and Schools program. IMA provided safe drinking water to 296,961 people this year, exceeding its target by 10 percent, primarily by installing spring caps, water pumps and rainwater collection cisterns. ASSP also builds public latrines at health facilities and distributes concrete sanitation platforms within VEA communities to improve sanitation, increasing access for 235,489 persons this year. Other hygiene practices promoted include regular hand washing with soap and proper waste disposal.
people in the Democratic Republic of Congo received clean drinking water this year
ASSP also responded to a growing Ebola outbreak in a neighboring health zone that threatened to spread to one of our project areas. Preparing for a possible epidemic, ASSP funding helped to train medical staff and community health workers in epidemic-related hygiene practices. The project also provided Ebola kits and 2,500 liters of disinfectant and developed a WASH-related contingency plan to contain the spread of the disease. To date, the Ebola outbreak has been contained, and no case has been recorded in an ASSP project zone.
Myriad factors affect health and well-being, and IMA continues to demonstrate the importance of WASH as a critical supporting player in our mission to build healthier communities.