Somalia: Improving access to water and hygiene against waterborne diseases

Since April 2020, Covid-19 has been spreading through the country, with a total of 4,662 registered cases and 124 deaths by 21 December 2020 – numbers likely to be far below the real numbers due to poor reporting and lack of testing capacities throughout the country. The spread of the virus is further exacerbated by cultural practices encouraging its spread, compounded by a lack of trust in governmental health infrastructure.

Baidoa, the Interim capital of South West State, is home to approximately 517 IDPs concentrated sites. The communities in the congested IDP settlements suffer from extremely poor hygiene conditions such as poor fecal waste handling, improper use of latrines, drinking un-safe water, lack of knowledge of handwashing practices at critical moments, improper handling of food and inadequate sanitation facilities amongst others.

ACTED conducted a hygiene promotion awareness session in the camp, visiting households and schools, and attending community gatherings in order to help prevent the spread and transmission of diarrheal and COVID-19 diseases.

People forced to flee their homes become the most vulnerable and lack access to basic services

The number of arrivals of IDPs into Baidoa from South West State and the neighboring regions due to severe drought coupled with insecurity threats has drastically increased throughout the past year. The communities in the congested IDP settlements are at risk of COVID-19, and suffer from poor hygiene practices due to insufficient water and sanitation hygiene facilities, and a lack of adequate hygiene promotion.

ACTED, funded by BHA, bet on the positive impact of promotion campaigns and education. It trained a community hygiene promoter in the IDP camps to promote positive practices among communities, build resilience against disease outbreaks and raise awareness to ensure the hygiene and sanitation messages create a long-lasting impact to the community. Households were provided with information on good hygiene practices tailored to specific diseases.

Participatory hygiene promotion campaigns are essential in reducing hygiene-related illnesses in the camp. Hygiene awareness activities have helped the communities understand the diarrhea transmission routes and the ways of interrupting the spread, thus reducing the prevalence rate. Overall, it has helped with the mitigation of COVID-19 transmission in the high-risk, over-crowded  parts of the camps.