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news | June 04, 2018 | Somalia | Emergency

Confronting sanitation issues to create improved health in camps

Fatima Moalim washing her hands at the hand washing facility after using the latrine, ACTED 2018

When a drought ravaged Fatima Moalim’s village, she left her farmland and home behind. Now, she lives in Sarman camp for internally displaced people in the outskirts of Baidoa. Poor hygiene practices, lack of clean water and absence of proper sanitation all pose a great challenge to many displaced communities in Somalia. Good hygiene and sanitation is critical to keep diseases such as diarrhea and cholera from spreading.

For Fatima and other community members, going to relieve themselves meant a walk into the nearby bushes, neighboring camps latrines or open spaces around the camp. Open defecation, which is often practiced throughout rural communities in Somalia, can have dramatic impacts on community health and wellness. Fatima radiates with pride over the newly constructed solar fitted latrines because this means progress for health and protection in the camp. She has seen people in the camp suffer from sanitation-related diseases and protection risks for a very long time now.

With funding from USAID-OFDA, ACTED built 300 latrines in 23 camps that will see an end to open defecation and promote good health and sanitation. In addition to that, the camps have been supplied with piped water, 75 handwashing facilities to promote good hygiene practices and solar lighting inside and outside the latrines to enhance security during use. The solar lighting not only provides light to the latrine but gives enough lighting to the whole camp due to the high voltage output of the solar system. It is hoped that the use of latrines in this region will curb deaths and create a healthier environment for communities to live in.

Women and children in the camp who were subjected to high risks of gender based violence are now provided with more comfort and safety with the latrines, especially at night. ACTED rehabilitated the Sarman Shallow well to increase access to clean water for the communities. Hygiene kits were distributed and hygiene promotion activities carried out to curb the rising number of hygiene-related diseases in the camps. This has greatly addressed the water contamination risks and cases of waterborne diseases have dwindled.

“I know the importance of having a latrine with solar lighting; it provides security for the women, girls and children while guaranteeing our privacy and dignity. We will use it and stop open defecation in our IDP camp”, said Fatima.

“The days of agonizing over the effects of open defecation and darkness at night are over!” Fatima concludes with a smile on her face.